5 types of customers and what they need
Customer service isn’t one-size-fits-all, so being familiar with the types of customers you might have to help can give you a leg up.
Published August 1, 2019
Last updated September 21, 2021
As a customer support agent, you will interact with a variety of people, each with their own temperament.
Customer service isn’t one-size-fits-all, so being familiar with the various types of customers you might have to help can give you a leg up.
Here are just a few of the different types of customers you should be able to identify in order to adjust your approach to best deal with a specific need.
5 types of customers
1. New customers
Newcomers are always going to have a few questions about how things work but might not always know how to ask.
If they’re in your help-center already, they clearly liked something about your product and probably aren’t looking for you to upsell them.
New customer needs most likely involve looking for guidance through an issue that agents might find simplistic. However, just because these tickets aren’t always the most challenging, it is still important to serve them to the best of your ability.
If their first customer experience with support is a good one, there is a great opportunity to create brand loyalty and hopefully turn them into repeat customers.
Retained customers are easier to convert than first-time buyers because they already have a foundation of trust with a company they’ve bought from before.
That’s why patiently guiding new customers through their problems will set your company up for success by showing customers from the start that your business is one that cares about the people they serve. Rotating who deals with new customer tickets can also give your agents a break from more complicated work and help remind them that it’s not always about getting bogged down in the details.
What new customers need from customer service professionals:
- Guidance for more simple issues
- Help onboarding
- A good first impression
2. Impulse customers
This customer is quick to buy when something catches their eye, but aren’t always the best at reading the fine print. So in situations where these types of customers get a product that isn’t exactly what they thought it was, they might be impulsive in calling customer support as well.
The impulse customer does sometimes have a legitimate support concern and so initially they should be approached as you would any other ticket.
Yet if it becomes clear that they called your department a bit prematurely, then it’s time to get them redirected as soon as possible. Impulse customers tend to contact support centers with questions about product use cases, warranty, or return policy, so it can be helpful to have a short on-brand script prepared for these situations.
Utilizing macros that send automated responses when triggered by certain questions can also save your agents’ valuable time while keeping customers engaged.
If the customer is frustrated about being rerouted, sympathize with their position but be sure not to promise anything that is out of your purview as a support agent. Of course, retention should be the goal of most customer interactions but if someone truly bought something they didn’t know what was then helping a customer out of a bad situation should be your first priority.
What impulse customers need from customer service professionals:
- Help with product use cases, warranty, or return policies
- Empathy over making a sale
3. Angry customers
Whether they are just having a bad day or have encountered the same issue one too many times, you will have to deal with some customers that aren’t being very friendly.
As difficult as this category can be to handle, it is important to remember that they are frustrated for a reason.
Having a strategy in place for angry customers can have a huge impact, so you never want to seem unsure of the situation as this could frustrate the customer even more.
Speak clearly and calmly while explaining to the customer exactly what needs to be done for them to get out of their predicament.
If the customer is being rude or hurtful try not to take it to heart and remember that they probably see you as another cog in a machine that has caused them a lot of trouble.
Working to improve your empathy skills can be very effective in dealing with frustrated customers. Being able to see a situation from the customer’s point of view might allow you to reimagine the ways in which you could provide support.
Yet just because a customer is angry does not mean the rules do not apply to them. Don’t be afraid to ask if they would like to speak with a supervisor if your interaction is reaching a dead end.
Be sure to try and collect customer feedback from angry customers, as there was likely a part of their customer experience that could be improved for the next person.
What angry customers need from customer service professionals:
- An agent who is willing to listen and can speak clearly while putting their own emotions aside
4. Insistent customers
Here we have a case of the highly informed customer types.
These shoppers usually do quite a bit of research before finalizing any sales and so have probably tried a number of solutions before they contacted customer service.
When dealing with an insistent customer, it is important to provide proof that you have a more effective way of solving their issue. Easy access to a knowledge base or other informational content can greatly improve this process.
At the same time, it is crucial to be polite and accommodating with insistent customers to satisfy their need to feel influential.
These types of customers can easily be turned into angry customers if they feel the support your company provided was condescending.
One strategy that could provide a boost for marketing is to ask these customers to share their experience on your company’s FAQ page. This is a customer-focused way to let them feel heard while adding user-generated content to your knowledge base.
What insistent customers need from customer service professionals:
- Proof that you have a more effective way of solving their issue
- Informational content
- Someone who is willing to listen
5. Loyal customers
This should be one of your favorite types of customers, but they may also be expecting an even higher standard of service.
Having been a part of your customer base for years, the loyal customer is the joy of the sales department. Yet there is added pressure for the support team to be aware of and able to handle any specific needs this customer might have.
Since they already have a preference for your company, loyal customers can be a way to foster organic marketing if you can get them to share their story on social media.
Yet this requires that their support experience is a positive one. Your organization could benefit from having a way to identify loyal customers with relevant context such as their previous issues, purchase history, and contact information for personalized interactions.
It also helps to be proactive when it comes to loyal customers. That means getting ahead of an issue before it escalates or even happens.
And even if the issue they have isn’t completely your company’s fault, offering some discount or loyalty reward can be a great way to appease loyal customers and increase the likelihood that they will tell other potential customers about your business.
What loyal customers need from customer service professionals:
- Exceptional support
- Proactive service
- A personalized experience
What every type of customer needs
Customer needs often depend on the customer’s type of injury or problem, their attitude, and relationship they have with the company. But there are a few things all customers expect in a good customer service experience, according to our Customer Experience Trends Report:
- Fast answers to issues
- The ability to get help as soon as they need it
- Friendly support agents
- Help over the channels of their choice
- A personalized experience, where they don’t have to repeat themselves
Read the report to learn more.