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The Intuitive Customer - Helping You Improve Your Customer Experience To Gain Growth

Aug 17, 2019

Relationship Types and How to Use Them

We act differently in our various relationships. We have a way we operate at work or school; we act a certain way in public and another way with our friends and family. The difference is the type of relationship we have with the other people involved. This variance in behavior is also at work in our relationships as customers.

In this episode of The Intuitive Customer, we explore how our relationship with customers affects how we interact with them. For this episode, we characterize relationships into two types, Relational and Transactional. You might think that one is better than the other, but it is not the case.

For example, let’s say you want to sell an old car. You make the listing and wait for the responses. It turns out you get one, but it’s from your brother. Would you change your approach to selling the car? My guess is you would—unless you and your brother are on the skids. For my part, my brother and I would enjoy the match up and would have a no-holds-barred approach.

The fact is, most of us wouldn’t haggle the same way with a family member the way we would a stranger. In my case, I would not only skip the haggling, but I would probably back off the price. Moreover, I would worry every time that I saw them that they would tell me there was something wrong with the car.

Advantages and disadvantages exist for each of these relationships on both sides of the equation. 

  • Relational: This relationship is emotional. It focuses on value instead of price. These relationships are the foundation of customer loyalty and related customer behavior.
  • Transactional: Unlike Relational interactions, transactional relationships tend to be a one-time thing. Rational parts of the experience, e.g., price or shipping costs, etc., often drive the buying decisions. Instead of loyalty, these relationships tend to focus on What’s In It For Me (WIFM).

If we go back to the car example, the idea of selling a used car to your brother is one point in a much more extended relationship. As a result, you feel more responsibility to ensure that it is positive. You also feel more guilt if it is not great.

Listen to the podcast in its entirety to learn more about Relationship Types and How to Use Them for your Customer Experience.


The Intuitive Customer podcasts are designed to explain the psychological concepts behind customer behavior.

If you would like to find out from one of our CX consultants how you can implement the concepts we discussed in your organization’s marketing to improve customer loyalty and retention, contact us at  

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