Article | 7 min read

The 11 types of customers + how to support them

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

By Hannah Wren, Staff Writer

Last updated October 13, 2023

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 and at various stages in the buyer’s journey.

To hit your acquisition and retention goals, prepare for any kind of customer your team could interact with. This article details the 11 types of customers and how businesses can support them with acquisition and CX methods.

1. Prospective customers

Prospective customers are individuals who have 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 they may be in the decision phase, ready to commit to a purchase.

How to support prospective customers

The best way to connect with prospects depends on their stage in the buying process. While methods vary, a general theme is to provide customers with the proper information and guidance to keep them moving down 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 like 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 have no intention of making a purchase.

Window shoppers are very non-committal. Your brand likely isn’t the only one they’re looking at, 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

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

  • Remarketing: If these consumers leave your website without making a purchase, remarketing can help you target them later through email campaigns, paid advertising, and social outreach to entice them to return. Make sure your marketing systems are connected to your customer support solution, so if these customers respond to an email or a social media post with a question, your agents are ready to engage.
  • Proactive messages: Increase sales and conversion rates with targeted messages based on user events and past interactions. For example, a bot can send these customers a discount code if they are spending too much time on your check out page.
  • Streamlined website CX: Since these individuals may have questions about your products or services while browsing, ensure customer support is easy to reach.

Window shopping customers

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, it’s crucial to provide a streamlined experience while also showing why your business is the best fit for them. You can achieve that with actions like:

  • 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: Since prospects are determined to make a purchase, ensure the buying experience is as easy 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. To facilitate long-term retention, how you communicate with them during and after the sale is important. 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

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: Since 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 programs is a good customer service tip to help retain these customers long-term.

Promotion-driven customers

5. Churned customers

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

There are different reasons why a customer would terminate their relationship with a brand: improper onboarding, budgetary concerns, or poor customer retention policies can all contribute. Whatever the reason, churned customers can be reacquired 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 a few different methods:

  • Surveys and feedback: Asked 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 trends in customer service

No matter the type of customers you deal with, they all deserve quality service. Read our Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2023 to learn the most important trends for optimizing your CX now and beyond.

6. New customers

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

Newcomers are likely going to have a few questions about how things work but might 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

If new customers experience good customer service after the first purchase, there’s an excellent opportunity to make them loyal customers—and even brand advocates. Here are a few ways you can achieve that:

  • Good first impression: 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.

New customers

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 after-the-sale 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 for impulse customers:

  • 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.
  • Optimized 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.
  • 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 support team members available for impulse customers.

8. Angry customers

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

Unfortunately, there will be times when customers are not too pleased with your operations—and it’s important that you 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

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

  • Empathetic communication: Whether the individual has a right to be angry or not, be apologetic and empathic as soon as possible to diffuse the situation. A customer service voice with proper tone and delivery is key.
  • Timely responses: An upset individual may reach out to your business via email or messaging platforms, and it’s crucial to provide timely responses.
  • 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.

Angry customers

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. That said, these individuals always expect a great CX—just because they’ve stuck around this long doesn’t mean they will 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 a few ways your team can achieve this:

  • Personalized communication: Sending personalized emails for birthdays, customer anniversaries, or other significant dates can make these individuals feel valued.
  • 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 with these individuals just because they’re long-standing customers.
  • Exclusive rewards: Offer 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, which is why brands should build and nurture these relationships as effectively as possible.

How to support brand advocates

Because they are typically excited about your business, customer advocates can come to you naturally or they can be nurtured from loyal customers. No matter how they are acquired, these customers require the following support:

  • 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.

Brand advocates

11. International customers

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

In today’s increasingly globalized marketplace, consumers can find your website from anywhere with internet access. While increased access to consumers is beneficial for 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. Here are a few ways you can support them:

  • Multilingual customer support: Offering multilingual customer support can foster clear communication and resolve queries effectively 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: Providing various payment options can ensure international customers have the facilities to pay for your product or service
  • .

What every type of customer needs

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

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

Discover the most important trends in customer service

No matter the type of customers you deal with, they all deserve quality service. Read our Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2023 to learn the most important trends for optimizing your CX now and beyond.

Discover the most important trends in customer service

No matter the type of customers you deal with, they all deserve quality service. Read our Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2023 to learn the most important trends for optimizing your CX now and beyond.

Download the report