Different Customer Types: How to Identify and Manage Them

Customer with different personas.

I run a digital marketing agency and have come to the realization that there are three things in my life that I’m never going to get away from: death, taxes, and customers.

You write a will to deal with the first and get a really creative accountant to handle the second. With the third, you’re on your own, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

On the flip side, managing and communication with our internal and remote teams is a breeze (I’m so blessed to have an awesome group). But let’s get back to our love / hate relationshop with customers 🙂

Not all customers are created equal—some you’d love to replicate while with others, you hope the blueprint is lost forever. While each client has their own particular reason for doing business with you, most customers fall into one of a handful of categories. In this article, we’ll go through the ones you’re most likely to encounter, show you how to identify them, and give you some tips for managing the relationship.

Here are the customer types/personas that we’ll be covering:

  • Nice and easy customer
  • Customer who’s in the dark
  • Micromanaging customer
  • Poker playing customer
  • Enthusiastic customer
  • Happy perfectionist customer

Nice and Easy

These are the customers you love to work with. They’re easygoing, trust your judgment, and let you run their marketing campaigns and strategies as you see fit. They know they’re not an expert, which is why they hired you. When you deliver a status report, their typical response is “Great! Keep up the good work!”

While nice and easy customers are every marketer’s dream, they do have one significant shortcoming: if they’re unhappy with your work for any reason, they may not say anything. You won’t know there’s a problem until they don’t renew the contract.

To avoid losing an account because the customer was too kind to complain, ask them directly if there’s anything you can be doing better. By taking the initiative, you send the message that you won’t be offended by constructive criticism.

In the Dark

Like nice and easy customers, those who are in the dark will hire you but are totally unfamiliar with social media marketing for business. Some of them are outright technophobic, but acknowledge that if they want to be competitive, they have to get over that hurdle.

The best way to manage a customer who’s in the dark is to explain what you do while emphasizing the benefits for their brand. Encourage them to ask questions and be prepared to repeat yourself. These customers can be trying at first, but once you have their confidence, you’ll rocket to guru status. You’ll be their go-to person for all digital marketing services, making the earlier frustrations worth it.

Micromanagers

Micromanagers make terrible bosses, and they aren’t much better as customers. They scrutinize your every move and question all of your decisions to ensure that you’re earning every dollar they’ve paid you.

While there may be days when you want to mute their texts and divert their emails into a ‘deal with this later’ folder, resist the urge. Instead, find tactful ways to get more space, such as limiting strategy calls to once a week and directing them to online resources that validate your strategies. Hopefully, they’ll be so busy reading that they limit their check-ins.

Poker Players

As their name suggests, poker players have a card or two up their sleeve. When reviewing a business contract and price schedule, they will use a technique called nibbling to ask for more benefits that add up to a sweeter deal for them. For example:

  • A page or two of free content when you’re putting together a website for them.
  • Some free SEO services if they sign a one-year contract.

Poker players generally observe two rules:

  • They ask for smaller things, which are more likely to be granted than larger ones.
  • They make their requests after the contract is drawn up, and you’re so eager to seal the deal that you’re in a “Yes” frame of mind.

When you know you’re dealing with a poker player, you can foil their game by indicating in advance what concessions you’re willing to make to win their business and refusing to budge afterward. Understand that you have value, and it’s unfair (not to mention unsustainable) to sell yourself short.

Most times, a poker player customer will give in once they realize that the time for bargaining has passed. If they don’t, it’s better to terminate the relationship than be nibbled at nonstop.

Enthusiasts

Enthusiasts are loaded with positive energy. They’re approachable, chatty, and highly sociable. Like nice and easy customers, you love seeing them come through the door. When you propose a campaign that matches their vision, they’re so effusive and happy that your confidence soars.

You’ll love working with an enthusiast if you can manage their shortcomings. They tend to be dreamy, undisciplined, and can change their minds for no other reason than that the new direction “felt right.” The best approach is to let them release all that positive (or negative, if they have a complaint) energy before getting them to commit an action plan. If conflict arises, show empathy, and they’ll see you as an ally instead of an obstructor.

Happy Perfectionists

There’s a lot to love about perfectionist customers. They know what they want, which eliminates those guessing games that can go on forever. Since they don’t have the time or expertise to run their own marketing campaigns, they’re happy to pay you to do it.

Don’t confuse happy perfectionists with nitpickers, AKA micromanagers—they’re trusting you to produce results they want. To keep the relationship mutually rewarding, check in regularly so that they know you’re on the right track or, if you aren’t, can divert you in time.

Conclusion

As a new entrepreneur or a seasoned veteran, you’ll find yourself dealing with a lot of different personalities. Most of them, however, contain elements of the six client types profiled in this article.

Once you realize the type of client you’re dealing with, you can manage them accordingly and enjoy a mutually beneficial business relationship. If that proves impossible, though, do the right thing and move on. Perhaps we should amend what we said at the beginning: you can’t escape death or taxes (not legally, anyway), but you can choose the type of customer you work with.

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