November 24, 2014

How to Deal With 4 Types of Customers

If you’re a consultant, you deal with all sorts of customers. Some you’d love to duplicate, while others, well, let’s just say you really earn your money working with them. Have you noticed how customers fall into a few categories?

carnival mask

Read these descriptions to determine which best describe your customers:

Laissez-Faire

You may tend to like this type of customer. They’re laid back and happy to let me run the show when it comes to their marketing. The laissez-faire customer knows you’re the expert, and trusts the decisions you make. For the most part, they’re happy with an occasional check-in from time to time.

  • How to Handle: One problem with this hands-off approach is that sometimes there’s a break in communication. If they’re unhappy with your services, they may not reach out to let you know before it’s too late. To circumvent this, make sure you check in via email and telephone every few weeks to make sure you’re on track to meet expectations on a given project.

Micromanagers

The opposite of the laissez-faire customer is the micro-manager. And just like those bosses you remember from your days in the corporate world, these customers breathe down your neck with every move. It is, after all, their money they’ve invested into your services, so they just want to ensure you’re doing what you’re supposed to do.

  • How to Handle: While you may want to lay down the law when it comes to micromanagers, you’re better off simply following their lead, at least within parameters. If you feel stifled with the amount of micromanaging a client is doing, tactfully find a way to ask for a little space (maybe limit your hour-long status calls to once a week rather than twice a day) to get your job done.

Utterly in the Dark

This type of client needs your guidance, though may be unwilling to relinquish what little control they have. For example, a client may come to you for social media services, though they know little about how to use Twitter for business. If they have bias against your services (i.e. is a technophobe), it may be a hard sell, but typically they will bend to your advice once they see the benefits for their brand.

  • How to Handle: Go back to basics. Don’t assume they know anything about your area of expertise.  Instead start from scratch and help them understand what you do and how it can grow their bottom line. Encourage them to ask more questions, and be patient!

Savvy and Perfect

Wouldn’t you love more of these types of clients? They know what they want, and either don’t have the time or knowledge to do it themselves. The good news is – they have the money to pay you to do it! You’ll spend less time selling them on your services, which is nice.

  • How to Handle: Don’t get complacent in your relationship by assuming everything’s kosher. Check in and maintain solid contact. Go out of your way to show you’re thinking of them; for example, send a link to an article you think they’d enjoy reading. This client will be loyal and refer other business to you, so it behooves you to nurture the relationship.

Remember that you can always fire your client! If one client type simply rubs you the wrong way, work to eliminate that type from your portfolio and work on drawing the ones you work more easily with to you.

Mask Photo via Shutterstock

8 Comments ▼

Susan Payton - Awards Communication Mgr.


Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

8 Reactions

  1. Mike Michalowicz has a new book coming out in June, “The Pumpkin Plan” in which he advises companies to fire problem clients to focus on A type clients. Personally, I think that’s good advice!

  2. I like the names and descriptions of these four customer types. I have definitely run across each in my career as well as my business. I never thought to categorize them, though. Thanks for the post.

  3. Wow. I loved that article. Way to put it all into perspective. Thanks!

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