One of the fundamental lessons when dealing with customers is that every individual is unique. They don't have the same temperament, patience, and knowledge; hence, you can't deal with them all the same way.
However, you can't devise procedures to deal with each customer individually. But you can divide them into groups based on buying behavior and patterns. These will help you formulate effective strategies to satisfy and keep them loyal to the business.
Importance of Understanding Customer Types
Customers are the pillars of every business. They eventually leave if you fail to understand their needs, requirements, and buying behaviors. To retain them, you must do much more than just satisfy them.
So, successful businesses follow this practice to divide the customers into certain segments. They can deal with them better and plan out SOPs for each segment. This simple step saves a lot of time, and resources and, not to forget, makes the life of the sales rep a whole lot easier.
If you ignore this step or fail to do target marketing for your product or service, things will not work out. With increasing competition, technological advances, and new products, it's much easier for customers to switch.
Moreover, with one bad experience, 33% of the customers leave without second thoughts, and your sales target and bottom line goes with them. So, you need to equip your sales team with the knowledge about the types of customers they'll meet and how to deal with them.
Types of Customers
Customers exhibit distinct characteristics and personas, so they think and act differently. Dealing with them all the same way may work for a while, but you have to take a different approach when a crisis strikes.
This approach has to be tailored as much as possible to the specific type of customer. So let's look at the common types of customers you'll come across today.
For thorough understanding, we have segmented the customers along two tiers: before the purchase and post-purchase
Before the Purchase
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash
These are your potential customers or leads. Since they are right at the beginning of their buying journey, this is an opportunity to tell them about your brand and product. Make them aware of what you offer and how it stands out from the other products or services in the market.
The more relevant your approach, the more personalized and in-depth the intro, and the more they'll be inclined to make the purchase.
Now there will be six kinds of customers you'll be dealing with at this stage:
As the name implies, these are the lookers or shoppers just going through your products. They may not be interested in buying at this point, but something must have caught their interest, hence the look-through.
Now how do we deal with them?
There are different ways to build on your relationship at this point.
Be kind, courteous and offer them help and respond to their queries
Try customer engagement strategies at this point with the lookers
Your focus should be to give them excellent service at this stage.
2. Discount Customers
There are always a few - at times annoying - customers on the hunt for discounts. They are not loyal to the product or brand but are only interested due to the discount. So it can be a bit challenging to address them.
However, you can always try a few strategies to make them feel valued and build their trust in your brand. For instance,
Tell them the value they are getting from the product at a discount.
Stay in touch with them and inform them about upcoming sales or deals.
3. The Researchers
Next, we have the thorough ones; these people have done their homework. They know the ins and outs of the offering. They may have also done a comparative analysis when they land upon you.
How you handle them could make them your loyal customers or send them away for good. So now you need to have a solid strategy in place to deal with them.
Don't offer discounts or tell them how your product stands out. They already know that or are least interested in details.
What you can do is, give them a real feel of the product. Then, show them real-life reviews, statistics, facts, or documented comparisons that rank your product higher than the market.
4. Impulsive Buyers
The most tricky customers, perhaps, are those who make it or break it to become your customers at the spur of the moment. These people are impulsive. They do not come with research or any plans to buy your product.
But if impulsivity strikes or something catches their interest, they'll instantly make the purchase.
You can offer them deals or discounts that are time bound or position your products at eye level near the counter, where they are more likely to notice and make the purchase.
These customers are never too sure about what they want to do. They may be confused or uncertain about their buying decision. You can turn these into your customers by leading them in the right direction.
Talk to them, or make all contact points available so they can ask for help and decide.
The level of service too plays an important role here; guide them well and offer them the best customer support possible, and they are likely to get more inclined towards your brand.
These unloyal customers are looking to switch when they get a better offering or product. They may be getting the same service from a competitor but would be looking for a better offer from anyone else.
So when they come to you, you are their alternative. Now what you need is some solid convincing. Tell them how your product is unique and how it offers a better and more significant benefit to them than the competitors.
To tap this category of customers, you need to do your market research. First, find out what the competitors are offering to the market and whether it's better or worse than your offer.
Then try to provide better service than them and improve your value proposition.
When the customer enters looking to switch, seize the opportunity and communicate your offer and let them know loud and clear how your offer is better than the one they are getting.
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash
Next, you have the existing customers. These, too, can be divided based on certain buyer traits and behaviors. Again, knowing these will help you retain them in the future and foster a positive relationship with them.
Let's take a look at the types of customer - post-purchase
7. The New Customers
These are your first-time customers. They have made the purchase but are still new in getting to know your brand and business. So you can make a good impression here and build lasting relations with them.
Begin by guiding them about your brand and product. Tell them about the USP and how it adds value to them. Show concern and empathy and resolve any questions or troubles they may have with the product or service.
Remember, these are your leads who'll bring in new customers, too, so whatever experience they take with them out your door will speak more than your marketing efforts.
8. Active Customers
Then we have the active customers. These are those who use your product or avail of your service but have not yet reached the loyalty stage. So things can get dicey if they get a better offer from anywhere else.
Take control at this stage, and do what you must to keep them hanging around. Offer the best customer service after-sales support possible at this stage. Stay in touch with them and gauge their response and suggestions for improvement.
The more importance you give to them, the more they are likely to stick around.
9. Exited Customers
These are the customers who've left. It may be due to no fault of yours, but somehow things didn't work, and they have looked the other way.
However, all is still not lost. You can still fix things and get them back.
The key is to be proactive and take matters into your hands before it gets too late. What gives you an edge here is that you have already interacted with these customers. So, they know you better than your competitors.
Chances are, instead of going to a new place, they may prefer returning to a familiar face or place, so it is your job to convince them. To do that, think of why they left in the first place.
Was it the product or the service? Were the competitors offering a better product or rate?
Whatever the issue was, get down to it and then try to improvise things to their level of expectations. Apologize if you must, and win them back.
10. Unsatisfied Customers
The most fragile of relations in customer services are with those who were previously mishandled or left unsatisfied in some way.
These customers may be sighted as those with regular complaints, spreading the bad word about you on social media or canceling their subscriptions.
Ignoring these customers is not correct. In this information age, it is downright suicidal to let them be. Since people trust reviews and feedback agitated customers leave on social media, it's important to erase any negativity they have inside them or have spread about you.
Talk to them, resolve their complaints, work out a middle ground for any disputes and try to fix things as soon as possible.
11. Customers At Risk
This can also be considered a subcategory of unsatisfied customers. Customers at risk are those who have opted out of your services. The reason may be anything from losing interest to getting a better competitor offer, etc.
Sometimes they may need a nudge to remind them of your service and tell them how it's better than the one they are availing of.
Get in touch with them. Give them timely offers and subscriptions while trying your best not to pester them into leaving.
When customers bring in other customers, they are called 'referrals.' Since the customers' word is better than yours, these customers place their trust in those who bring them in. They may not know about you or your product at all.
One aspect to consider is that these customers have a very high level of expectation from your product. Since they have heard so much, they will at the very least expect the same service from you that their friend or relative got.
Make sure you thoroughly guide these customers and help them onboard. Talk to them, see what they expect from you and try to provide them the best you can.
13. The Loyals
These customers are loyal to your brand and business. But, never make the mistake of leaving them be.
You still need to put in a lot of work and effort to keep them happy and retain them. If your level of service goes down at any point, they may lose their loyalty and switch to other brands.
So, always make them feel valued and important.
14. Lifetime Customers
This is a step above the loyal customers. These customers often make subscription purchases for a lifetime. It is natural to place your efforts on getting new leads for business, but if you want to stay stable, you need to focus on these customers too.
The lifetime customers bring in more customers easily since they are very happy with your services. So always create value for them, give them time and stay connected with them even after the purchase.
15. The Advocates
These are the brand ambassadors and the type of customers most likely to help you achieve your bottom line. This is because they always buy from you and convince their friends and family to do the same.
The more you tell them about your new products or brand, the more they will likely spread the word for you, and that too for free!
Try to give them importance at any point, event, or possible. The more you make them feel important, the more they will likely endorse your brand and carry your name forward.
Knowing the person you are dealing with, whether it's a few basic attributes only, will significantly ensure satisfaction. Once you pinpoint the need, you can devise better methods and plans to meet those needs.
Knowing the type of customers, you are likely to deal with is very important to serve them. We hope the article gave you some perspective to think about and better provide your customers with excellent service.
Cover Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash