Five kinds of customers and how to read their minds

Wouldn’t it be nice to be a psychic, just for one day? To have the opportunity to peer inside the mind of employees, prospects and clients.

January 21, 2014

By Aneesh Reddy, CEO of Capillary Technologies

Here’s a question for all small business owners:

Wouldn’t it be nice to be a psychic, just for one day? To have the opportunity to peer inside the mind of employees, prospects and clients so you could exactly how to grow your customer base?

Good news: you almost can. As long as you know what kind of customer you are addressing, you can determine what is most valuable to them and use that knowledge to your advantage.
And the “kind of customer you are addressing” isn’t just some abstract idea about the general attitudes of customers. It’s an exact set of divisions among the customers who buy from you, complete with an exact strategy to match each division. Simply put, there are five core customer types. Let’s get to know them.

1. New Customers

New customers are the people who have just discovered your business. They are open to potential acquisition as customers, but you must sell them on the idea first. New customers must be sold on the idea of your business.

What New Customers Want: New customers, like all customers, want to be treated well. While all businesses are different, a new customer must be incentivized to become involved with your business. Use either a strong value proposition or a basic incentive to bring new customers to your doorstep.

2. Active Customers

Active customers have undergone the acquisition phase. They buy from you on some semi-regular basis. If you have a brick and mortar store, you or your employees may even begin to recognize them by face.

What Active Customers Want: Aside from continued good service, active customers want to be given a reason to stay with the company. Active customers may be willing to switch to your competitors if they are given the opportunity. Make no mistake; they are at an active part of your sales funnel and are open to either upgrade or lapse. Fortunately for you, every customer wants to be loyal to someone. Win their trust. Romance them. Find a way to turn your active customers into loyal ones who buy from you and only you, at least when they have the chance.

3. Loyal Customers

Loyal customers are the customers who have been upgraded from active to evangelical. You must have done a great job with these folks, because they serve as a big chunk of your yearly revenue.

What Loyal Customers Want: If you have loyal customers, then you already know what they want: great service and the opportunity to have their desires met by your business. Reward and nurture these customers with excellent arrangements to keep them in your camp. Incentivize them. Offer them deals. Think about interesting ways to get them involved with your company.

4. Lapsed Customers

Lapsed customers have left your camp for one reason or another. It could be that they just don’t have enough time to go to your movie theater or that the last haircut you gave them didn’t turn out right. Whatever the reason, they aren’t actively buying your stuff.

What Lapsed Customers Want: Lapsed customers want to be swept of their feet. They need to be wooed back, and everything about how you approach them- from your message to your channel to timing and more- should be arranged to reflect that. At the same time, you want to prevent them from becoming dormant customers. Win back lapsed customers before they stop purchasing.

5. Dormant Customers

What did you do?!? Dormant customers once bought from you, but no longer do. They are non-factors in future forecasts because it has been so long since they purchased your product. You must have upset them, right? Dormant customers may be the ones who had such a bad experience such a long time ago that they may not want to return. Or perhaps they just no longer have a need for your product because of a change in life circumstances. Whatever the case, it’s your job to win back as many as you can.

What Dormant Customers Want: They want a reason to return to your company that surpasses something negative that REALLY happened a long time ago. Sometimes, you have to go to extreme lengths to get them back. But other times, if you are really lucky, you will notice there is something you can change about your sales process that will bring them back to your camp without breaking your back.

Have you considered the differentiating needs of your customers lately? It’s time to stop treating every customer the same… and start reading their minds.