Purpose: The aim of this study is to examine patient satisfaction with non-physician staff as related to patient demographics, satisfaction with physician, and intentions to recommend their physicians to others. Design/methodology/approach: A survey was conducted at two internal medicine primary care clinics affiliated with a major university health system. A latent class analysis was used to detect patient subpopulations based on profiles of response for five satisfaction-with-staff indicators. Findings: The response rate was 86.46 percent (479 of 554). Analyses revealed four patient subpopulation segments. Segment I (n=241) patients uniformly indicated a high level of satisfaction across the five satisfaction-with-staff indicators. These patients tended to be older and less educated, and have lower incomes relative to patients in other segments. Patients in Segment II (n=83) expressed satisfaction with staff caring and need accommodation, but dissatisfaction with access to their physicians. Patients in Segment III (n=51) indicated high levels of satisfaction with access and low levels of satisfaction with staff caring and need accommodation. Segment IV (n=104) patients uniformly expressed low levels of satisfaction across all indicators and generally were younger and more educated, as well as had higher incomes than other patients. Originality/value: Patients have different expectations from their non-physician staff, e.g. younger, more affluent, and educated patients expressed dissatisfaction with staff. This suggests that non-physician staff should provide extra/further responsiveness to have these patients' needs met. Generally, approaches that are differentially targeted to specific patient subgroups are likely to be more efficient and patient-oriented than undifferentiated approaches. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.