By Adrian Swinscoe, Director, RARE Business

In today’s modern world, in order to manage and grow your customer relationships you have to understand what type of relationship you have. There are various types of relationships that a customer can have with a business. The types listed below are some of the relationships that exist and form a continuum:

1. Purely transactional — it’s a simple sale. Here the customer relationship is such that the customer knows what they want, they come, they buy, that’s it. Usually, standard commodity products. A business that offers just this has little to build on and business may be subject to peaks and troughs and unpredictability. This could be as simple as buying a product from a high street retail store.

2. The relationship develops and trust grows — here the business starts to really understand the customers real issues and the business offers degrees of continuity, consistency, customization and sustainability, which although may be intangible are seen to have value.

3. We’re in a relationship and here’s how we can make it better — this is where a a longer-term arrangement is seen as being the best solution by both the customer and the business, because it offers more intangible benefits for the customer in other areas of their business or life. This could take the form of training, access to new technology and product developments.

4. It’s now a partnership — the customer and the business act as one and become almost seamless where connected. The business is virtually part of the customer’s organization and treated as such. The best example of this would be ‘outsourcing’, where the business acts as an extension of the customer. This type of relationship requires real collaboration and work and is often difficult to undo, even if it were in the customer’s interests to do so. This, in business terms, is the pinnacle of relationship that many businesses aspire to.

Why is this important? It’s important because if you plan on developing your relationship with your customers then it is useful to understand where you are currently on the continuum.

Where is your business on the continuum and where would you like it to be?

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