Adapting CX to 5 common types of customers

6th Jan 2021

It’s no secret that delivering a five-star customer experience (CX) has direct and long-lasting positive effects on customer loyalty. However, not all customers are created the same. What one customer might prefer, another might reject. That’s why the key to CX excellence is a personalised approach to every customer.

But delivering this personalised experience isn’t easy. Organisations have hundreds, thousands or even millions of customers, and it’s challenging to not only understand each one of their personal preferences, but to then transform that understanding into CX action.

That’s where understanding different customer types comes in. While you’ll surely come across customers that fall outside of these buckets, here are the top five archetypes of customers that are most important for organisations to identify.  

1. The Vulnerable Customer

Perhaps the most critical persona to understand today is the vulnerable customer. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) recently reported that 24 million people in the UK displayed one or more characteristics of vulnerability, including mental, financial or physical hardship.

Recent research shows that most customers just want to be listened to and it’s more important than ever that customer service employees interact with a high level of empathy and sensitivity. Furthermore, there are very specific compliance mandates that require companies to treat vulnerable customers ethically and fairly.

There are also digitally vulnerable customers – people who lack the skills or resources needed to effectively navigate the increasingly digital world. According to the UK Office for National Statistics, 10% of the adult UK population could be categorised as “internet non-users.”  When creating channels for CX, it’s important to remember that not everyone has the skills or tools to access websites, apps or self-service options, and organisations must provide appropriate channels for every vulnerable customer.

2. The Chatty or Isolated Customer

Chatty or talkative customers often prolong interactions by telling personal or irrelevant stories that push the call or chat off-track. These types of customers may appear friendly and personable, but instead, it’s likely many are lonely or isolated and simply crave human interaction – a feeling that has been exacerbated during quarantines and lockdowns.

According to data, 77% of consumers chose to access customer service via phone during the pandemic despite warnings of longer wait times. While it’s important to meet the needs of chatty or isolated customers, if not properly managed it has the potential to affect wait times for other callers.

Empowering agents with next-best options and call resolution tactics in real time along with implementing post-call coaching on how best to engage with these customers can help avoid impacting other customers while still delivering positive CX.

3. The Advisory Customer

There are plenty of customers who, when speaking with customer service agents, make their opinions, feedback and recommendations known. These customers are calling in for a reason, but conversations are often a mix of immediate needs and recommendations for product or service improvements with phrases such as, “Have you thought about adding X,Y or Z to your service?” or “I’m curious why [INSERT FEATURE] hasn’t been offered yet.” These types of customers can often be misunderstood by agents, perceived as having ill-intent, but many may be genuinely interested in a particular service or product and have valuable suggestions for solutions.

To handle this customer, it’s important to make them feel understood. Agents should have access to contextual customer history and previous interactions, which they can use to understand past preferences, behaviour and resolutions. This type of contextual history support does more than just support agents during real-time interactions. When advisory customers feel valued and can openly share feedback, good or bad – organisations are able to build long-term trust and brand loyalty.  

4. The Emotional Customer

While almost every customer is bound to show some level of emotion during brand interactions, there are some that will fall on the extreme ends of the emotional spectrums – overly happy or grateful, to those that are overly frustrated or irate. Sentiment analysis capabilities makes it easier for organisations to gauge and score customer emotions – whether they’re frustrated, angry, satisfied or grateful.

By identifying characteristics like tone, pitch, or speed of voice, sentiment analysis provides agents with the information they need to determine best course of action. When dealing with a frustrated or angry customer, agents can focus on validating their concerns and work toward a fast, first call resolution. 

For happy customers that might come to a resolution relatively quickly, agents can take additional steps, such as offering exclusive deals or offers, to enhance the relationship and deepen loyalty.

5. The Busy Customer

Every customer that calls in has a question or issue they’re hoping to resolve. However, some are looking for more immediate assistance. Whether they are on the move, calling on their phone so that they can multitask while working, or are simply needs-based people, busy customers need a first-call resolution.

Depending on their situation, the busy customer might sound distracted, tense, have low sound quality, or only provide minimal or just the necessary information. When identifying these contextual clues, it’s crucial to get to the root of the issue as quickly as possible and keep call transfers to a minimum. For busy customers, ensuring that agents have the prior background and expertise to rapidly resolve issues with limited small talk or cordialities is key.

Identifying customer types with interaction analytics                                        

Being able to identify which archetype a customer best identifies with can help brands adjust their communication and behaviour to better accommodate different emotional and situational needs. With technology such as interaction analytics, organisations can effectively recognise customer cues and “read between the lines” in real time to get to the root of an issue or detect certain vulnerabilities that impact how an interaction is handled. Further, post-call analysis allows for improved agent training and performance with specific customer archetypes.

Every customer has a different set of needs, attitudes, preferences and abilities – interaction analytics makes identifying these customer types and taking the right CX approach easier than ever.

Whether it’s detecting key words and phrases like “job loss,” “illness” or “unemployed,” or identifying emotional levels, interaction analytics allows organisations to more effectively service each customer and evaluate progress in real time. By understanding and identifying customer behaviour through these five archetypes, brands can abandon the “one-size-fits-all" approach and adopt a more nuanced and personalised strategy to CX.

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