4 Customers an Ecommerce Retailer Must Serve

Classifying a shopper’s personality and preferences may make it easier to provide good customer service and, ultimately, sell more.

Retail ecommerce businesses serve a variety of customers with different needs, wants, and preferences. Every individual shopper should be treated as though they are completely unique. There is nothing ordinary about any shopper’s questions or concerns.

The Benefit of Categorizing Customers

Nonetheless, from the perspective of a customer service representative who is chatting, emailing, messaging, or even speaking on the phone with a customer, it may be helpful to try to categorize the shopper and the shopper.

Categorizing a shopper should help the ecommerce customer service representative move more quickly to a solution that works well for both the store and the shopper. The idea is that if a retailer can find a resolution that makes a shopper happy, that shopper will return and make future purchases.

Here are four customer types an ecommerce retailer must serve.

The Brand Loyalist

Dr. Robert B. Cialdini, regents’ professor emeritus of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University, is famous in the marketing community for his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, which was first published more than 30 years ago.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion


In that book, Cialdini describes six key principles of influence or six ways to increase one’s chance of making a sale. One of these is the idea of commitment and consistency. Folks who say they are going to do something or that they believe in something will act in such a way as to make that thing true.

In retail ecommerce, brand loyalists are those customers who believe in your store. They have made several purchases — if you keep good customer data, you will know this even as you speak to them — and they tell others about just how great your store is.

If a brand loyalist has a problem, you need to take care of it.

According to Marc Compeau, the founder of the My Small Business 101 seminar series, “urban legend has it that Nordstrom had a policy that so favored the customer that a manager once gave a full refund for a set of tires — yet the store never sold tires.”

Treat brand loyalists like that.

The Passionate Proclaimer

Passionate proclaimers can be important customers. These are the folks who share positive tweets about your business, pin your products for friends to see, and share every purchase they make on Facebook.

But they are also the folks who will rant and rave in social media when things go wrong, so be careful dealing with this category of customer.

The passionate proclaimer is often a person who wants to be esteemed, if you will. These folks want to be accepted and valued.

From the customer service perspective, let this customer vent, listen carefully, validate his concerns, and seek a resolution.

The Trend Follower

Cialdini tells a story about the little notes or signs hotels put in their rooms asking guests to reuse towels in order to save water and electricity and, hopefully, help the environment.

Hotels, Cialdini said, generally used one of three kinds of messages to convince guests: (a) do this for the environment, (b) do this for future generations, or (c) co-operate with us for this common cause.

Cialdini experimented with a fourth message, saying that “the majority of guests who stay at our hotel do reuse their towels at least once.” This fourth message increased compliance by 28 percent. Folks have a tendency to follow the crowd.

These customers might show up with questions about shipping, trustworthiness, or even fashion trends. Here the customer service representative needs to help shoppers feel like everything is normal and that they are in the mainstream.

The Fact Finder

The Quant Method (TQM) is a personality-based marketing strategy that identifies four customer personality types. One of these is “the thinker.”

According to TQM, the thinker is a fact finder, hunting for specifications, details, examples, test data, and more. This customer wants to compare every aspect of a major purchase.

When a fact finder contacts an ecommerce retailer, it may be a sign the retailer is not providing enough product information on site, and it is when customer service representatives need to be especially resourceful, providing resources to help the fact finder on his mission.

It can be a good idea to maintain detailed data and specifications about a product, so that customer service reps can point the fact finder to everything he needs to make an informed buying decision.

Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
Bio   •   RSS Feed