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How to create customer profiles and reach the right people

Last updated

25 May 2023

Author

Chloe Garnham

Reviewed by

Jean Kaluza

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Creating better products and services for your customers is one of the most critical ways to boost revenue and stay competitive. To attract and maintain customers, it’s essential to deeply understand your target market—their wants, needs, and pain points. 

Customer profiles are one critical way to do this. Creating the right profiles can lead to a better understanding of your ideal customers—all so you can better solve for them.  

This guide will show you how customer profiles can help, the best practices for creating profiles, and how to use them for real results.

What is a customer profile?

A customer profile is a set of information about your core customer. This information is typically held in a one-page document that you can share across your organization. 

The profile includes all the relevant information the business can discover about its target customer. That includes their demographic information, work and income details, challenges, and pain points. It can even include other information like purchasing history, hobbies, and preferences. 

A customer profile typically includes:

  • Age 

  • Geographical location 

  • Work/job title 

  • Annual income 

  • Personal goals  

  • Pain points/challenges 

  • Purchasing habits 

  • Hobbies 

  • Products and services used

When it comes to B2B offerings, customer profiles differ somewhat. A B2B profile will usually include information about the business such as company type, size, annual turnover, and the overall company vision.  

The core benefits of customer profiles 

It’s important not to overlook the importance of developing customer profiles. Customer profiles ensure that the business is consistent when speaking to its customers. That applies to developing products, offering services, messaging through advertising, or helping customers resolve support issues. 

Profiles also enable stakeholders to deeply understand their customers and empathize with the pain points they face. And having detailed profiles can make it simpler to attract new customers in your target market. 

The process of creating customer profiles is something marketers see as critically important. One survey, for example, found that 99% of respondents believed the ability to create and use profiles was important for improving marketing results. 

Some of the core benefits of customer profiles include: 

Keeping consistency across business departments

Having a document you can share with different stakeholders makes it much simpler to maintain consistency as a business. That means whether it's the marketing department, product, or management, all departments are clear on who your customers are and what they need from your company.  

A deep understanding of customers to better serve their needs

You cannot truly serve your customers unless you have a real understanding of their challenges, wants, and needs. A customer profile helps clarify those specific details so you can bake customer-centricity into all your business’s activities.  

Improved customer retention 

Customers who feel understood and whose needs are continually met are more likely to stick with the organization. Thus customer retention is likely to increase—something that’s a critical element for business success. It’s been found, for example, that just a 5% increase in customer retention in the business can result in a 25% increase in profit due to repeat customers buying more over time. 

Better identify the right tone for messaging 

Customer profiles also help to ensure all messaging, regardless of where it appears—on the website, in online ads, throughout an app, or within the product—relates back to the core customer. That way, you consider the customer and their needs at every touchpoint, and the communication tone remains consistent. 

Simpler customer onboarding and discoverability 

By understanding who your customers are—and approaching people similar to them—it’s much easier for the sales teams to find successful new leads. It’s also more effective to target ads to your specific demographic for greater interest and return on investment. 

Customer profiles vs. buyer personas

What is the difference between ideal customer profiles and buyer personas? Buyer personas and customer profiles are often confused, and many organizations will even use the terms interchangeably. 

While they’re both documents containing details about customers, there are some differences in application.

A buyer persona is a document of information typically based on assumptions made through data and research. A buyer persona relies on information gathered through research methods like focus groups, surveys, and interviews. 

A customer profile looks to bring customers into the value proposition. The information used within a customer profile is based on customer interactions, data, and information that’s been validated. The document is also a guide for the pain points and goals the customer may have. 

Six key steps: how to create customer profiles

Creating customer profiles is only useful if those profiles truly reflect your customers. To develop profiles that have an impact across the business, it’s helpful to follow best practice steps. 

These include diving into data, checking in with the sales team, getting customer feedback, conducting in-depth research, collating the information into a shareable document, and continually learning. 

1. Start with analytics 

As we’ve seen, customer profiles are not based on assumptions but on real data and information. To discover who your customers are, it's essential to first look at your analytics to spot trends and themes. 

These trends will appear across various parameters. For example: 

  • The age ranges your customers fall into 

  • Geographical trends (including urban, rural, country, or state-specific) 

  • The gender split 

  • Traffic sources (web search, reviews, word-of-mouth, advertising) 

Once you’ve identified those themes, it’s time to discover more information about who your customers are. 

2. Use team data 

Assessing experiences from your existing team and departments can give color to your analytical information. The sales team has a direct link with customers and is the most likely to understand them deeply. Another overlooked team is your customer service team which hears your company’s negative feedback. 

There are many ways to gain sales team data, whether by discussing with stakeholders or looking through chat conversations and call center notes. A great way to work with your customer service team may be to incorporate exit interviews or have members document concerns regularly for assessment.

While there will be plenty of information, the core aim is to identify common themes and data that are useful for discovering who your customers are, what their aims are, and their common challenges. 

3. Ask your customers for feedback 

Another way of gathering more information about your customers is simply by asking them. You can do this through surveys, customer interviews, or qualitative means such as voice of customers or focus groups. 

These feedback methods will help your team discover more about your customer’s demographics and backgrounds, how your customers think and feel, what their pain points are, and any other information you think may be helpful. 

By asking your customers, you offer them the opportunity to contribute and be a part of your business, enabling you to better serve them as a whole. This can be helpful for loyalty in the long run. 

4. Conduct research on customers 

Keep in mind that it’s also essential to pay attention to customer behavior. While customers may say they will act in a certain way, evidence will often show otherwise. So while it’s important to ask them directly, it’s also critical to see how customers act.

For example, customers may say they prefer to have more options in an app, but in practice, those options lead to confusion, resulting in higher exit rates. 

To conduct behavioral research, it’s necessary to employ different feedback methods. These include practices like usability testing, AB testing, and field studies. You could also learn to structure your interviews and sessions with this in mind to not ask direct and leading questions. 

In addition to these adjustments in data collection, you may also want to do some hands-on investigating on your own. For example, investigating what other websites or paths your user takes to find you, what competitors they’re seeing, or generally absorbing the world they live in to help you better understand where they’re coming from.

These techniques force the team to observe what the user does rather than what they say they will do. You could think of it this way: what the customer says adds color to data and provides context and rationale. 

But what they actually do is what ought to be relied upon solely. And if it is, be sure to structure interviews and surveys with questions that strategically uncover truths, perhaps without the user even consciously telling you directly, by asking more about their actions than their opinions.

5. Put into one shareable document 

Once you’ve gathered analytical data, sales team information, customer feedback, and behavioral research, it’s important to collate and review the information. 

Typically this is the role of a researcher. They will gather the feedback into a shareable document that describes your ideal customer. That document should then be stored online and accessible to the entire team—including product development, sales, marketing, and customer support. If your team meets in an office, posters of the ideal customer profiles can serve as reminders and foster a culture around a common goal.

That way, the information isn’t just gained, but it can be continually acted upon throughout the business for a truly customer-centric offering.

6. Continuous learning 

Your customers are not static. Things change over time—in fact, in a rapidly evolving digital world, customer expectations, needs, and challenges are continually in a state of flux. 

To stay competitive in the marketplace, it’s critical to keep listening to customers. By doing so, your business has a much greater chance of continuing to delight customers and avoid losing them to the next new business.

Having continual listening as part of the business strategy ensures that the company doesn’t stagnate and continues evolving as the landscape does. 

Leaning into “The Five Abilities ®”

Another helpful way to identify your core customers is to lean into The Five Abilities® technique. 

It might come as a surprise, but studies show that sales representatives spend 65% of their time doing things that aren’t selling to customers. Coined by Rick Wong, The Five Abilities® is a methodology that helps solve the problem of reaching the wrong people. 

The method identifies the ideal customer who has the following attributes: 

  • A core problem exists and the customer is searching for a solution 

  • There is time to deploy the solution for the customer 

  • The customer has the experience to understand your solution 

  • The customer can afford your solution 

  • The solution will benefit all necessary parties 

By identifying these customers and continuing to reach those that fit this profile, leads are more likely to be successful. This information can also form part of your customer profiles.

Customer profile examples

Getting started with customer profiles can be tricky. We’re including these examples as inspiration and a starting point for creating your own customer profiles. 

Individual: busy parent 

In this example, a company offering an app to connect parents with safe and reliable childcare services may have a customer profile like the abridged version here: 

Jennifer 

Age: 33

Relationship: Married

Parent: Mother of two

Education: Bachelor of Laws 

Job title: Lawyer 

Location: New York City 

Pain points: Both Jennifer and her husband work full-time. They’ve struggled to find reliable and safe child care for their two children under five. 

Personal goals: To gain a promotion that will allow her to work more flexibly around her growing family and find child care backed by reviews that covers her busy schedule

B2B: tech startup 

In this example, a company offering B2B services for companies who want to efficiently track their projects and have one source of truth may have a customer profile like this: 

Company type: Startup 

Company size: 20 employees 

Company offering: Digital products 

Location: Austin, Texas 

People of contact: CEO and CMO

Pain points: Inability to organize product releases seamlessly, challenges with productivity to release products efficiently, no one source of truth for projects 

Business goals: To increase revenue by 25% 

Customer profiles to reach the right people 

Using customer profiles can not only help the business to nurture current customers—but to reach new ones too. 

Deeply understanding your customers while serving their needs can help boost revenue to keep the organization competitive. 

Custom profiles ensure you deeply understand your customers—all so you can better provide the best solutions for them.

FAQs

What are the five basic types of customers?

While customers vary considerably across a business, main customer types are categorized to help better deal with issues and queries. 

The five main types of customers are: 

New customers

These are customers who have recently onboarded or made a purchase. They’re still getting to know the business, so they’re more likely to need support and have questions. These customers are also in the process of making judgments about the company. 

Impulse customers

These are customers who make snap decisions when making a purchase. They may not be very familiar with the company or its products. These customers are more likely to be disappointed by their purchase and may need additional support.  

Unhappy customers

Unhappy or angry customers can be challenging to deal with. However, every business has them. You’ll need to show sincere empathy to deal with their issues or challenges. Listening to unhappy customers to see their point of view can avoid them spreading negative word of mouth. 

Informed customers 

Very well-informed customers have typically heavily researched both your offerings and those of your competitors. These customers can become unhappy if their needs aren’t met or they feel they’re not being listened to. 

Loyal customers

These are the customers who are the most loyal to the brand. These customers are more likely to leave good reviews and spread positive word of mouth. All businesses should nurture loyal customers, as they’re integral to customer retention and growth. 

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