Article | 15 min read

What are customer profiles? A complete guide, examples and free templates

Leverage data to build rich customer profiles so you can provide more relevant, personalised experiences.

By David Galic, Contributing writer

Last updated August 30, 2023

A personalised experience based on a customer profile: a music app that understands your listening habits and recommends similar artists or playlists you might like.

An exceptional personalised experience based on a customer profile: a music app that uses your data from the past year to create a (fictional) music festival lineup based on the artists you listen to the most, names the event after you and sends you a shareable festival poster.

The Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2023 shows that 59% of consumers want businesses to use the data they collect about them to personalise their experience. How can you use data to give your customers that extra little bit of customisation that takes their experience from good to great? By creating a data-rich customer profile of your target audience.

Follow our guide on how to develop customer profiles so you can start providing hyper-personalised experiences for your customers to both boost loyalty and retention

What is a customer profile?

A customer profile is a document that contains key information about your ideal customer. You can use it as a strategy guide to creating personalised experiences.

Each profile should contain customer pain points, interests, buying patterns, demographic data, motivations, interaction history and more. These details can help your business understand how consumers engage with your brand and products, so you can customise marketing campaigns, tailor messaging and conversations, and provide personalised support.

Remember to be transparent with customers about what data you gather as well as how you plan to use and store it. Always allow your customers to decide whether or not they want to share their information.

B2B vs B2C customer profiles

There are two business types of customer profiles: business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C). The data you collect for client profiles will vary depending on whether you’re a B2B or B2C company.

  • B2B customer profiles map the typical business that buys your goods or services, including the company’s size, industry, location, revenue and target audience. The profile may also include decision-makers at the company.
  • B2C customer profiles focus on individual customers and feature demographic data like age, gender and lifestyle preferences.

What is customer profiling?

Customer profiling is the process companies use to create customer profiles. The goal is to identify, describe and segment customers based on several characteristics and variables, including their personalities, buying habits and behaviour. Customer profiling mainly focuses on your ideal customer’s pain points and brand interactions.

Benefits of customer profiling

Benefits of customer profiling

With customer profiling, you’ll have the data you need to create the tailored experiences consumers want. The data allows you to see the customer’s motivations and deterrents behind their purchases and provides insights into what customers value most when interacting with brands. Here are some benefits your business can expect from customer profiling.

Improve efficiency by reducing silos

The road to accomplishing deeper personalisation often gets blocked by siloed data. Having a system that unifies data from across departments allows teams to find the customer data they need quickly and efficiently. With a single customer view, agents can get the context required to create a personalised experience without switching between systems.

Drive loyalty with personalised and proactive experiences

Offering proactive and personalised experiences is essential to building trust and fostering customer loyalty. According to our CX Trends Report, 60% of customers say they can tell when they receive personalised recommendations from a brand. What’s more, they find them valuable. When customers feel like a brand understands them, they’re more likely to stick around. Leverage relevant data to engage with your customers and form a deeper connection with them.

Increase cross-team collaboration

Every team within your business has valuable insights that can enhance your customer profiles. Increasing cross-team collaboration enables you to create targeted marketing campaigns and deliver personalised support for great customer experiences. A system like the Zendesk Agent Workspace helps improve collaboration across teams by consolidating real-time information into a single view that each department can see.

Boost sales

Customer profiling shows you which groups to target. This helps your sales team identify high-quality leads and customise their approach. As a result, they may close more deals.

Say a customer profile reveals there’s interest in a product feature that your company now offers. You can customise your messaging when reaching out to the customer and start the process of closing a sale.

Gather insights to make data-informed decisions

Collecting relevant data that may be scattered across systems and consolidating it – with help from a customer data platform (CDP) – can provide valuable insights to help you make informed decisions. Marketing teams may have crucial information that could help close a sale while customer support may have key data for a more personalised marketing campaign.

Types of customer profiling

The customer profile you want to create helps determine the types of data you need to collect. Here are some common ways to segment your customers to create the best customer profile possible.

Demographic

Demographic profiling defines your customers by who they are. This type of segmentation groups customers by personal characteristics like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Ethnicity
  • Income
  • Job title
  • Education

Marketing and support teams often use this information to create personalised messaging and to identify communication channel preferences.

Psychographic

Psychographic profiling defines why customers buy your products or services. This type of customer profiling segments customers by:

  • Personality traits
  • Attitudes
  • Opinions
  • Values and beliefs
  • Lifestyle
  • Religions
  • Political affiliation

Although this type of data is subjective and typically the most difficult to identify, it can be the most valuable information in the customer profile. It helps your business understand the thoughts and motivations behind purchases and how customers feel about your brand (also known as customer perception).

Behavioural

Behavioural profiling defines how your customers interact with your brand. This type of segmentation groups customers by behavioural tendencies like:

  • Buying patterns
  • Spending habits
  • Brand interactions
  • How they use your products or services
  • Types of feedback

Businesses can use behavioural data to identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities, improve the overall customer experience and make personalised recommendations.

Geographic

Geographic profiling defines your customers by their physical location and where they shop. This type of profiling separates customers by personal characteristics, such as:

  • Physical location
  • Language
  • Culture
  • Workplace

The factors of geographic data – like climate, cultural influences, delivery options and rural vs urban environmental needs and preferences – impact customer influences and shopping habits.

3 methods of customer profiling

Customer profiling will group customers with similar traits, characteristics, behaviour, motivations or decision-making styles. You can approach customer profiling in three ways: psychographic, typology and characteristic.

Psychographic method

The psychographic method uses the consumer’s qualities, traits and lifestyle to define market segments. It covers:

  • Demographics: age, location, gender, marital status, ethnicity, income, internet access, job title, homeownership and education level
  • Lifestyle: hobbies, activities, interests, values, attitudes, opinions and talking points (politics, religion, human rights, etc.)

Typology method

The typology method focuses on what drives the consumer to interact with you. It defines the customer by their motivation type:

  • Need-based: customers who only buy what they need
  • Deal-based: customers who look for discounts and care most about price points
  • Impulse-based: emotionally driven customers who spend based on feelings and impulses
  • Loyalty-based: customers who consistently buy from you and promote you to people in their network

Brand characteristics method

The characteristics method focuses on the traits that influence purchases. Some common traits for this approach include:

  • Convenience: you make it fast and easy for buyers to do business with you.
  • Personalisation: you’re able to appeal to consumers on a personal level. They recognise that you tailor experiences to their specific wants and needs.
  • Belonging: customers feel like they’re part of a community. They connect with other customers, pay close attention to reviews and regularly interact with you.

How to create a customer profile in 5 steps

The most successful profiles contain more than just basic details – they should include a wide range of data that showcases how your target audience interacts with your brand. To build a data-rich customer profile, you need customer database tools to track customer information. Here’s how to create a customer profile in five steps.

1. Use customer profile templates

Creating a customer profile on your own can be a time-consuming process. Rather than starting from scratch, use prebuilt customer profile templates to plug in your customer data and build a profile quickly and easily.

2. Identify customer pain points and solutions

The next step is to identify the most common customer pain points and how your product or service solves them. Many customers may share similar pain points and customer profiles can help you find the connective tissue.

3. Determine common demographics and behaviour

That leads to the third step: determining shared demographics and behaviour. Customer profiling data can help you find similarities between certain customer groups, like characteristics, locations and motivations. This enables you to better target customers and personalise outreach, marketing and customer service communications.

4. Gather and analyse customer feedback

Gathering and analysing feedback can help you paint a picture of what your ideal customer looks like across different customer groups. You can collect feedback via:

  • Customer satisfaction surveys (CSAT, Net Promoter Score®, etc.)
  • Customer interactions and interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Social listening
  • Online reviews
  • Community forums

Once you capture this quantitative and qualitative customer profile data, you can track and analyse it with a customer relationship management (CRM) system.

5. Find the right software to integrate data across tools and systems

Use your CRM to continuously refine your customer groups and integrate the data across tools and systems. The right CRM software will help you collect data from your current customers – like name, location, history and information from the entire customer journey – to create the most accurate profiles.

Customer profile templates

Our customer profile templates make it easy to get started. With your free download, you get five fill-in-the-blank PDFs:

  • Basic customer profile template: this easily scannable template provides – you guessed it – all the basic information you need at a glance.
  • Comprehensive customer profile template: this template lets you dive deep into customer details, with plenty of blank space to add relevant customer data.
  • B2B customer profile template: this customer profile template gives you space to add the important details for your ideal B2B customers, including business size, revenue, structure, strengths, weaknesses, location, budget, pain points and solutions.
  • B2C customer profile template: this template has everything you need to create a profile for B2C customers, including their professional overview, the products they use, the benefits and challenges of product use, pain points and a customer summary.
  • Ideal customer profile (ICP) scorecard template: the ICP scorecard template allows you to use a scoring system to assess the potential fit of a customer. It includes categories for need, timeline, budget and decision-making power.

Free customer profile templates

Get to know your ideal customer base better with our free customer profile templates.

Customer profile examples

Here’s a sneak peek at a few of our ideal customer profile template examples. Download now to get started.

Basic customer profile

The basic customer profile includes demographics, the products or services used, pain points and solutions.

Basic customer profile

Download free customer profile templates

Ideal customer profile (ICP) scorecard

As mentioned earlier, an ICP scorecard method helps you evaluate your potential customers using a simple scoring system. Scores range from zero to two based on how well they fit the assigned criteria. If a customer’s score exceeds your threshold, odds are they’re an ideal customer.

Ideal customer profile (ICP) scorecard

Download free customer profile templates

Zendesk Agent Workspace customer profile

The Zendesk Agent Workspace customer profile shows you what a customer profile looks like when pulling customer data into a single unified view. This marketing profile example lets you see contact information, activity history, ticket information, additional customer details and a full conversation history.

Zendesk Agent Workspace customer profile

9 tools you can use to collect customer profile data

Consumers give companies their data in dozens of ways every day. Potential customers can browse your website, engage with your brand over social media, call customer service and so on. Each interaction allows you to capture customer details but that information is only useful if you have access to it – ideally all in one place.

Here are a few tools to help you collect customer data to better understand your buyers.

Forms

Lead capture forms and surveys collect the data that make up the building blocks of your ideal customer profile. They can also provide insights into customer loyalty and engagement.

1. Lead capture forms

Embed a sign-up form into your website and ask site visitors to fill it out with their contact information. In exchange, they’ll get access to something, like a special discount code or white paper. You’ll learn which products or subjects each visitor is interested in while gathering basic information about them.

2. Surveys

Send surveys to customers who used your product or service (and/or interacted with your support team) to understand what they like and dislike about your offerings. You can use that valuable customer feedback to make improvements and build stronger customer relationships.

Communication platforms

Information collected from communication platforms can show you how consumers interact with your brand.

3. Email marketing platforms

Capture data from your customer email interactions to inform your targeted marketing profiling. For example, if a client clicks on an email about a specific product they haven’t purchased yet, it might be a sign that it’s time for an upsell. Email marketing platforms can also integrate with your CRM software to give you an overall picture of a customer’s engagement level with your brand.

4. Social media

Are your customers following your social media channels? If not, think about how to attract their attention. Have they liked a lot of your Facebook posts or shared them with their friends? Do they regularly respond to your business’s tweets? If so, you know they’re loyal customers. All this information can be merged into a CRM for your marketing team to use.

5. Customer support channels

Meet customers where they are and deliver streamlined support with an omnichannel experience. You can start a conversation on one channel and resume it at a later time – on a different channel – without losing context. This provides a flexible, customer-centric communication method that records data and conversation history.

Web analytics

Web analytics illustrate how your customers engage with your business online.

6. Google Analytics

This tool provides deep insights into customer interactions on your website, so you can identify what’s working and what’s not. You can see the most popular pages, learn about your audience’s interests and understand how visitors engage with your site.

7. Customer accounts

A customer’s registered account on your website or company platform contains basic information (such as their name, email or preferred method of communication). If a customer is logged in to their account while browsing your website, you’ll be able to see how they interact with each of your products.

Core business tools

Use these tools to facilitate customer interactions, learn about their purchases, and gather and house consumer details.

8. E-commerce and billing platforms

Tools like Shopify collect information about how a customer makes purchase decisions. They also record key data like what your customer purchased, how much money they spent and how frequently they place orders.

9. Customer service software

Open, flexible customer service software allows you to integrate all your data from different sources into your CRM, giving you a complete picture of the customer. When you have the information you need in one place, you’ll better understand how you can build great customer experiences.

Even if you use these types of tools, you don’t necessarily need to integrate every data point into a CRM at once. You can choose what to include based on your company’s objectives.
Regardless of what information you obtain, centralising your data will help your team provide a consistent customer experience.

What data do you need to create an ideal customer profile?

Here are three types of data you need to create an ideal customer profile.

Customer marketing data

Marketing teams can use a consumer profile to create effective marketing campaigns with tailored messaging, predict customer behaviour and identify buying patterns and trends.

For example, if your marketing team knows which products your customer previously returned, they probably won’t send more information about those specific items. Similarly, a target market profile may tell your marketing team if a customer opens an email about a particular product dozens of times. If they clicked on links and never made a purchase, it’s probably a sign the customer wants more information about the item.

Customer sales data

Sales teams can use the data from customer profiles to determine how to approach a customer. The information in the consumer profile may help a sales rep get a clear picture of whether a client might be open to an upgrade or whether they’re an unlikely candidate for an upsell. Customer profiles can also enable sales reps to find better prospects and close more deals.

With Zendesk, you can customise integrations to capture customer activity (like when they place an order) and customer qualities (like clothing size) that give sales reps more context, so they can better understand the customer.

Customer support data

Support teams can use customer profiles to provide personalised customer service. Whenever a consumer reaches out for help, the details of their interaction get recorded. This gives agents valuable information about the customer so they can personalise each experience. For instance, if your agents can see which solutions a customer has already tried, it will improve the quality of support they provide.

Everyone at the company is responsible for creating a positive brand experience, so a data-rich customer profile can make life easier for every department.

Use your customer profile data to personalise experiences

Building data-rich profiles will help you improve your marketing, sales and support by anticipating what customers need. When you have all that data, you can start strategising how to approach things next.

A comprehensive profile helps you know who your customers are and what they want before they’ve even asked a question. Your customers will likely be more loyal to your brand because they know you can solve their problems. These positive experiences should lead to reduced customer churn.

Free customer profile templates

Get to know your ideal customer base better with our free customer profile templates.

Free customer profile templates

Get to know your ideal customer base better with our free customer profile templates.

Customer profile templatesCustomer profile templates