Not to imply that there are necessarily bad customers (except ones who don’t pay, or smell bad. I guess those aren’t the greatest), but for any B2C small business, there are definitely certain kinds of customers who make doing business sustainable, enjoyable, or wonderfully challenging.
Here are our favorites:
1. The Extra Loyal Customer
They frequent your business so often, you’re starting to wonder if they actually need your services or if they just like hanging out with you, or if they’re in love with your assistant. Who knows? Who cares? Not only do they consistently bring their business, but working with them gets nothing but easier over time.
2. The Super Referral
No matter how excellent your services/products are, there are some customers who simply aren’t the sort who will open their mouth and actually tell someone else about it. It’s frustrating but the truth is, most people rarely refer. Which makes it even more exciting when you get one customer who goes crazy with telling people how amazing you are – they’re all over Yelp and social media, not to mention the number of new customers who have told you their heard your praises straight from that person’s mouth. Seriously, bless these people. They kinda make getting up in the morning worthwhile.
3. The “Why Don’t You” Person
Honestly, there are few things more annoying than people who think they know your business better than you do. We’ve all had that annoying uncle who, despite having been a truck driver for 30 years, thinks he has some “must follow” advice on how you improve your start-up. So this is a weird, fine line – customers who are constantly nit-picking your methods, policies, and services can be a tremendous pain. They are the people who challenge our ability to be civil and not tell certain people exactly where they can go because, frankly, we’re too busy for them. But on the other side of that line, closely adjacent, is that rare, super thoughtful customer who, because they are so observant and pay such close attention, are able to give you that irreplaceable customer perspective – and occasionally, they offer feedback on your business that really makes sense. Ask any business owner and chances are, they’ve had moments where customer feedback lead them to a new way of looking at some aspect of their company, and possibly to real, positive change.
4. The Customer With Benefits
In a world where business transactions are less personal than ever, and increasingly cold and removed from the fact that they’re still just humans having an exchange, this is the kind of customer who offers a refreshing reprieve. It could be the nice, older lady who insists on bringing fresh baked goods when she comes in, or the chatty barista who brings lattes for the whole staff, or the car wash manager who always leaves vouchers for free washes – not only do these people tend to be more pleasant than other customers (grouchy people rarely bring treats!), and not only will their goodies give an always welcome morale boost to you and your staff, but the added human dimension to your interactions will establish a kind of loyalty that lasts. (I do not, however, have any advice for dealing with the associated calorie guilt.)
5. The Customer In High Places
You don’t have to be among the 1% to enjoy the perks of scratching each other’s backs. Even if, say, you run a nail salon and one of your regular customers is the hostess at an amazing (and impossible to get into) restaurant – guess who will likely find themselves able to get a table? The key to getting the most out of customer relationships (other than your obvious first priority of delivering an awesome experience that builds their loyalty and wins their word-of-mouth) is not to suck up to the most overtly high-powered persons, but to identify and appreciate what every customer has to offer. We are all the masters of our own little universes – some of your most (admittedly a little selfishly) valued customers are the ones who happen to rule over the exact little kingdoms you want privileges in.