Different types of Potential Customers: How to Attract and Retain Them

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All customers, including your potential customers, are different. You get customers who know exactly what they want. Potential customers who only browse your products and leave without buying. Customers who come back again and again. And those who aren’t exactly happy with their experience.

Based on the behaviour of your customers, there are a few categories you can divide them into. Different categories are at different stages of the sales funnel. That means that the way you treat them and the actions you take to convince them to buy from you also have to be different.

So let’s have a look at different types of potential customers that come through your door and how to please them!

image representing different types of potential customers in the shops - some are browsing, looking around, others are talking to sales assistants
Photographer: Charisse Kenion | Source: Unsplash


The lookers are those potential customers who need or want something or are only looking for some inspiration.

They browse your products or services but have no intention of buying anything yet. They look at your business as well as at your competitors to find out which one serves their needs best.

The lookers are at the very top of the sales funnel. It’s very important not to push for a sale at this stage. Instead, you need to make a good first impression. Make yourself memorable and show “the looker” that your product or service provides the best solution to their problem.

How to attract these potential customers and make sure they come back to buy from you after doing research?

These days, most people do this type of research online. With that in mind, even if you have a beautiful physical store or newly furbished office, it’s also important to invest time, money and effort into your online presence.

Professional design, easy navigation and relevant information are the essentials you should start with. Your website should answer all the questions your potential customers might have. This includes prices, detailed descriptions of your products or services and an explanation of how they will benefit your customer.

You can also include a live chat and send a welcome message when someone visits your website. Let them know you can answer any questions they have! If the visitor is only browsing, they’ll probably skip this option. But when it comes to making the final decision, the fact that it’s so easy to contact your customer service team can make a big impact.

Moreover, it’s best to avoid things like pop-ups or ads on your website. If you have an ad that takes up most of the screen, “the looker” will see it as an obstacle and will likely leave your website without even looking at what you offer.

Need-based potential customers

Photographer: rupixen.com | Source: Unsplash

The need-based customers, as the name suggests, are those potential customers who are looking to buy something because they need it. Another great way to describe need-based customers is that they are “the lookers” who have done the research and are now ready to buy. They already have knowledge about the product or service they are about to purchase and don’t really need any assistance.

At this point, the prospect is only a step away from becoming your customer. However, they might be choosing from a few other options, which means you’re still competing with others for this customer.

Is there anything else you can do to make need-based potential customers choose your business instead of any other?

Of course!

Firstly, make the buying process as easy as possible. If you have an online store, make sure it doesn’t take longer than a few minutes to place the order. Features such as guest checkout or auto-filling information can really speed up the process. The more steps your checkout process includes the more likely you are to lose that potential customer who is so close to pressing that “buy now” button.

Secondly, provide excellent customer service. Customer service plays an important role both before and after someone makes a purchase. Make sure you can answer any last-minute questions, resolve any issues quickly and are able to communicate effectively even with the most difficult customers. If your prospects visit you in person, show enthusiasm and make them feel welcome. Customers want to be treated as individuals. Address them by their name, actively listen to what they have to say and sympathise with them.

If you treat need-based customers well, they’ll not only make the decision to buy from you but will also be likely to become loyal customers.

Impulse buyers

These potential customers make a buying decision instantly – without doing any research. And they don’t actually need a specific product when they make that decision. The reason they buy something is simply that they saw it and they liked it! This could be after receiving a recommendation, seeing an eye-catching advert or discovering something interesting on social media.

As you can imagine, impulse buyers aren’t the most loyal ones. After buying from you once, no matter how much they liked your product, they are likely to discover something new, something more exciting and buy that product instead.

A few things you can do to try and convert these potential customers into loyal ones:

  • Don’t let them forget about you. If they sign up for your marketing materials, make sure you keep them engaged and don’t forget to send emails about any new launches or special offers! Make those emails memorable – include images or videos and create an aesthetic design. Again, if they like what they see, you will get another sale.
  • Create urgency. “Only 5 left”, “Today only” and “Discount is declining every hour” – are just a few examples that make impulse customers want to buy as they are afraid of missing a great offer.
  • Provide great customer aftercare. After making an impulsive decision to buy something, some people might realise that they don’t actually need that product, it’s not what they expected or they don’t know how to use it correctly. Make sure these people can find answers to their questions online or it’s easy to contact you. Also, create an easy returns process. When you care about customers not only before but also after they make a purchase, it builds trust and improves your reputation.

Now let’s have a look at how to retain your existing customers!

Once you convert potential customers into those who not only know your brand but also buy from you and, hopefully, love your products or services, there’s still work to do!

Again, depending on the behaviours of your existing customers, there are a few different types of them which means that you need to take a different approach when trying to retain them.

New customers

Photographer: Clay Banks | Source: Unsplash

New customers are those who bought from you for the first time. They are testing out your product or service, trying to figure out how to use it or are already thinking about whether they will buy from you again.

As these customers already bought from you, they are familiar with your brand. This might sound like you have already done all the hard work – you gained yourself a new customer! However, work doesn’t end there. At this stage, your job is to retain them as long as possible.

To do so, you need to build trust and show that you care about every single customer.

Excellent post-purchase experience is essential when trying to retain new customers. After someone buys from you for the first time, if it’s suitable for your business, send them a series of emails with tutorials on how to use your product. After a few weeks, ask them how they are getting on and invite them to leave a review.

Another thing – you need to make it easy to contact you. These days many people prefer contacting customer services online. This includes social media channels.

You need to think about customers and what they expect from you and then exceed those expectations. Make them feel good about buying from your brand!

You might notice that the steps you need to take to retain new customers are very similar to retaining impulse buyers. That’s because both types of customers have bought something from you for the first time! The only difference, new customers are easier to retain as they made that decision to buy after careful consideration. Their decision wasn’t influenced by their feelings, unlike impulsive buyers’.

Loyal customers

These are probably your favourite customers!

They love your brand, buy from you all the time and spread the word about your business to their friends, family or colleagues.

However, loyal customers understand how much they do for your business. They generate most of your revenue and help you build awareness of your brand and that’s why they expect a lot back!

To continue a great relationship with your loyal customers, you need to take an extra step when providing customer service. If they have any complaints or suggestions, they are the people you need to listen to the most. After being your customers for a long time, they know what they love about your business and notice when something is not right.

Moreover, don’t forget to reward your loyal customers. Introduce customer loyalty schemes and provide discounts or options to collect points to get rewards. This will not only help you to retain your exciting loyal customers but will also help you convert more new and impulse customers. An attractive loyalty scheme can even be a reason the lookers or need-based customers choose your brand instead of your competitors!

Another thing you should do is shout out about your best customers. Share their stories of how your product or service helped them or their testimonials on your website and on your social media channels. Featuring your most loyal customers is not only a great way to show how much you appreciate them but also increases your business’s credibility.

Dissatisfied customers

Photographer: Icons8 Team | Source: Unsplash

From the best customers to the worst… Let’s have a look at how to handle those customers who aren’t fully satisfied.

But before we start, do you really think that complaining customers are the worst?

It really depends on your mindset and the way you handle complaints. If you take every negative feedback very personally or you believe that your business is perfect and has no place for improvement, then you definitely see dissatisfied customers as the worst ones.

But if you know how to speak to the customer who is expressing their frustration and understand that complaints let you find out about the issues that should be addressed immediately but you don’t even know about. This could be an online shop that doesn’t work properly or customer service that doesn’t their standards.

Listening and taking action after someone complains proves you value your customers and their opinion.

On the other hand, not handling complaints well can not only make you lose the customer who complained but can also damage your company’s reputation.

So let’s have a look at what you should do to avoid that.

  • Don’t let emotions take over. No matter how upset or angry your customer is, you need to stay calm and patient. You need to actively listen to what they have to say. This will help you understand why the customer is feeling that way and what exactly you need to say to show them that you care and want to resolve the issue.
  • React quickly. If someone complains in person, reassure them that you will work on a problem and fix things as soon as possible. If someone leaves a negative review online, don’t ignore them for days. Respond quickly – the longer you ignore it, the more damage it will do to your brand.
  • Don’t make excuses. If you can provide an explanation of why something happened – you should definitely do so. However, don’t make excuses or even worse – blame someone else. You need to take responsibility, apologise and take action.

If you ever receive negative feedback online, Adam has some great tips on how to deal with it!

Are you ready to take your business to the next level?

To do so, attracting more potential customers isn’t always enough!

To maximise your chances of increasing your profits and customer loyalty, join our Above & Beyond Customer Service Course.

This course will show you how to:

  • Turn a negative customer experience for one customer into a positive experience for another
  • Understand the importance of the first step of the customer journey with your company.
  • Deliver customer service to challenging customers
  • Upsell to existing customers to get more sales
  • Understand the value of converting customers compared to marketing and finding new customers