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12 types of customers + how to support them

Customer service isn’t one-size-fits-all. Understanding the different types of customers can help you optimize the customer experience and hit your business goals.

Von Hannah Wren, Staff Writer

Zuletzt aktualisiert: March 14, 2024

Customers are individuals who buy a product or service from a brand, and while that definition is simple, meeting your customer experience (CX) goals in today’s marketplace isn’t. Businesses will encounter many different types of customers, each with their own motivations and goals, at various stages in the buyer’s journey.

To hit your acquisition and retention goals, prepare your team to interact with any kind of customer. This article details the 12 types of customers and how businesses can support them with acquisition and CX methods.

More in this guide:

1. Prospective customers

Prospective customers are individuals who’ve shown interest in your product or service but haven’t made a buying decision yet.

Prospective customers exist anywhere in the buyer’s journey: They may be in the awareness phase, just discovering their problem, or in the decision phase, ready to commit to a purchase.

How to support prospective customers

The best way to connect with prospects depends on which stage they’re in. While methods vary, providing customers with the proper information and guidance will keep them moving through the sales funnel.

The three stages of the buyer’s journey are awareness, consideration, and decision. Here’s how you can support prospects in each of these stages:

  • Awareness: Support prospects in the awareness stage with informative content, such as articles and ebooks, that address their pain points.
  • Consideration: In the consideration stage, lean further into delivering informative content, like case studies and whitepapers, but ensure it includes your unique selling proposition (USP).
  • Decision: Support individuals in the decision phase with assets such as webinars and product demos or schedule one-on-one meetings that overcome sales objections and other common concerns.

2. Window shopping customers

Window shopping customers enjoy browsing through your products or services but may not intend to purchase.

Window shoppers are very noncommittal. Your brand likely isn’t the only one they’re considering, and they might be shopping for fun the same way someone may watch television. They may not have a specific need for a product and might not even be in the sales funnel.

How to support window shopping customers

An image of a woman looking out the window on an airplane is accompanied by a description of how to support window shopping customers.

The name of the game with these consumers is capturing their attention. You can do so in several ways:

  • Remarketing: If these consumers leave your website without making a purchase, remarketing through email campaigns, paid advertising, and social outreach can entice them to return.
  • Proactive messages: Increase sales and conversion rates with targeted messages based on user events and past interactions. For example, you can send someone a discount code if they spend too much time on your checkout page.
  • Streamlined website CX: These individuals may have questions about your products or services while browsing, so make sure customer support is easy to reach.

3. Determined customers

Determined customers are highly informed individuals who clearly intend to buy.

Determined customers have typically done quite a bit of research on similar products or services and are now searching for a seamless purchasing experience. It’s up to you to ensure your team has the proper customer service skills to make their transition from a prospect to a customer as easy as possible.

How to support determined customers

When dealing with determined customers, provide a streamlined experience while emphasizing why your business is the best fit for them. You can achieve this with the following:

  • Bottom-of-the-funnel content: This type of content exists at the bottom of the sales funnel and communicates why your business is a better choice than the competition. Access to this kind of material can help reinforce the prospect’s decision.
  • Streamlined checkout process: Because prospects are determined to purchase, ensure the buying experience is as simple as possible so they don’t get frustrated and switch to a competitor.
  • Responsive customer service: Determined customers may have some last-minute questions or immediate inquiries after the sale. Make sure your customer service team is responsive and can address these concerns promptly.

4. Promotion-driven customers

Promotion-driven customers typically only buy during a sales promotion.

Promotion-driven customers are motivated by price reductions. How you communicate with them during and after the sale is important to facilitate long-term retention. After all, they aren’t necessarily motivated by the product but by how much they’re paying—or not paying.

How to support promotion-driven customers

An image of a woman walking on a beach looking at her phone is accompanied by a description of how to support promotion-driven customers.

The best way to support these consumers is to educate and entice them after the initial purchase. Here are a few ways you can do that:

  • Effective onboarding: Customer onboarding involves teaching new customers the value of your product or service. Comprehensive support allows them to get the most out of your offering.
  • Continued product support:Considering these consumers may not have been motivated by product features, it’s important to keep in contact with them after onboarding to ensure satisfaction.
  • Loyalty programs: Rewarding a continued relationship with your business with discounts and loyalty programs is a good customer service tip to retain these customers long-term.

5. Churned customers

Churned customers are individuals who once had a relationship with your business but have since moved on.

There are several reasons why a customer may terminate their relationship with a brand, including improper onboarding, budgetary concerns, or poor customer retention policies. Whatever the reason, you can reacquire churned customers with the proper techniques.

How to support churned customers

There is one goal when interacting with churned customers: Get them back into the sales pipeline. You can do so with different different methods:

  • Surveys and feedback: Ask churned customers for feedback on why they left so you can address any concerns and review your customer service objectives.
  • Personalized outreach: Craft personalized emails or other messages to remind them of your previous relationship. If you find out why they left, use this as an opportunity to say you resolved their previous concerns.
  • Reactivation incentives: Offer exclusive discounts or promotions to entice these individuals to give your brand another chance.

Discover the most important CX trends

No matter the type of customers you deal with, they all deserve quality service. Read the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2024 to learn about the most important trends for optimizing your CX now and in the future.

6. New customers

New customers are exactly what they sound like—individuals who’ve recently purchased your product or service.

Newcomers will likely have a few questions about how things work but may not always know how to ask. Therefore, onboarding and customer-first initiatives must be seamless to make a good impression.

How to support new customers

An image of a person looking through a circular hole while waving is accompanied by a description of how to support new customers.

If new customers experience good customer service after the first purchase, there’s an opportunity to make them loyal customers—and even brand advocates. You can achieve it with:

  • Good first impressions: Sending a personalized welcome email or message can make the new customer feel special while providing an opportunity to formally introduce your brand.
  • Impeccable onboarding: New customers need a seamless onboarding experience that addresses common questions and builds user confidence.
  • Dedicated support: New customers will likely have basic questions about how your product works. Be sure to provide timely assistance when they have inquiries.

7. Impulse customers

Impulse customers are individuals who make spontaneous purchases.

This type of customer is quick to buy when something catches their eye but isn’t always the best at reading the fine print. As such, these individuals may need more information than traditional consumers, but they can be nurtured and retained with the proper support.

How to support impulse customers

These customers may need more post-purchase support than others to get them caught up with your product. Therefore, it’s important to have clear communication and offer a seamless CX.

Here are a few ways you can do this:

  • Build a comprehensive help center: These individuals will likely have more questions after becoming customers, so having a detailed help center—or comprehensive client portal software—is vital for addressing simple issues they may face.
  • Optimize your website CX: Impulse customers are driven by spontaneity, so having an optimized website CX—such as making it easy to find your top and featured products—can guide them to their initial and future purchases.
  • Provide technical support: These customers tend to contact support centers with questions about product use cases, warranties, and similar product-specific queries. It’s good practice to have technical support team members available to address any questions.

8. Angry customers

Angry customers have encountered an issue or are dissatisfied with your business.

Unfortunately, there will be times when customers are not pleased with your operations, so you must know how to deal with angry customers. Bad customer service can make a situation with an angry customer worse, so it’s essential to be supportive and empathetic to these individuals.

How to support angry customers

An image of a woman walking through a desert while scrolling on her phone is accompanied by a description of how to support angry customers.

As difficult as these individuals can be, it’s important to remember that they’re angry for a reason. Instruct your team to maintain a calming presence when interacting with unhappy customers, and follow these tips:

  • Show empathy: Whether the individual has a right to be angry or not, be apologetic and empathetic as soon as possible to diffuse the situation. A customer service voice with proper tone and delivery is key.
  • Respond promptly: An upset individual may reach out to your business via email or messaging platforms, and it’s crucial to provide timely responses.
  • Find an effective resolution: Angry customers want a solution now. Ensure you train your support team to be versatile and capable of resolving all types of situations.

9. Loyal customers

Loyal customers have a longstanding relationship with your brand.

Loyal customers are the backbone of any successful business and are typically every brand’s best customers. They tend to make frequent purchases and are less expensive to retain than acquiring new customers. That said, these individuals always expect a great CX—just because they’ve stuck around this long doesn’t mean they’ll continue to do so.

How to support loyal customers

It helps to be supportive and proactive with loyal customers to ensure their continued satisfaction. Here are several ways your team can achieve this:

  • Personalize communication: Sending personalized emails for birthdays, customer anniversaries, or other significant dates can make these individuals feel valued.
  • Deliver exceptional support: While you want your support team to provide exceptional help to every customer, pay special attention to loyal customers. There can be a tendency to overlook them because they are loyal—but don’t let your CX slip just because they’re long-standing customers.
  • Offer exclusive rewards: Send exclusive discounts, early access to new products, loyalty programs, and other special offers to reward customer loyalty.

10. Brand advocates

Brand advocates act as champions for your brand, products, or services.

These customers are one step beyond loyal customers. They aren’t just a long-term relationship but individuals who actively share their experience with your brand with others. Customer advocacy is crucial to successful businesses, so brands should build and nurture these relationships as effectively as possible.

How to support brand advocates

An image of a man working on a laptop is accompanied by a description of how to support brand advocate customers.

Because they’re typically excited about your business, customer advocates can come to you naturally or be nurtured from loyal customers. No matter how you acquire them, you should offer these customers:

  • Surveys and feedback: Asking brand advocates for their feedback or testimonials can be vital in determining what your business does well and how to improve your CX. Add this information to customer service training programs.
  • Referral programs: Establishing exclusive referral programs for your advocates can show your appreciation while furthering their motivation to support your brand.
  • Exceptional support: Just as with loyal customers, take special care of advocates to ensure an excellent CX time after time.

11. Referred customers

Referred customers learn about your products or services after another customer makes a recommendation.

If you’re excelling in your CX efforts, you’ll likely start to see referrals roll in. Referred customers come to your business from the recommendations of your loyal customers and brand advocates. These individuals may not know much about your business but are willing to begin a relationship with you because someone they trust advised them to do so.

How to support referred customers

These customers have heard good things about your brand, so you must provide an excellent experience from the beginning. Here are a few ways to support them:

  • Personalize onboarding: Provide a personalized onboarding experience so your referred customers can get up to speed with your product’s benefits as soon as possible.
  • Engage in dedicated support: Ensure you meet their expectations at every turn with a dedicated contact point for any support questions.
  • Check in regularly: Once they have time with your product, check in to see if you can better serve them. The referred customer will likely talk to the recommender about their experience, so providing a comprehensive CX is vital.

12. International customers

International customers are consumers who live outside of the country in which you primarily do business.

In today’s increasingly globalized marketplace, consumers can find your website from anywhere on the Internet. While increased consumer access benefits a business, cultural and geographical differences can pose challenges for customer support strategies.

How to support international customers

This type of consumer requires a bit more thought when evaluating your business’s CX and support structure. You can support them by offering:

  • Multilingual customer support: Providing multilingual customer support can foster clear communication and effectively resolve queries with different cultural groups.
  • Localized content: You can customize the copy on your website, social media pages, and more to suit your international audience’s language and cultural preferences.
  • Global payment options: Various payment options better ensure international customers can pay for your product or service.

Frequently asked questions

Cater to your customers with Zendesk

Consumer needs vary depending on the type of customer and their relationship with your company. That said, all customers expect fast answers to issues, friendly support agents, assistance over the channels of their choice, and an outstanding CX—Zendesk can help with all that and more.

Start a free trial today to see how Zendesk can revolutionize your CX for any type of customer you interact with.

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