An Annotated Guide to Completing the Business Model CanvasPart 2: Customer Relationships

Customer Relationships

After deciding on our customer segments. Next, we’ll look at different types of Customer Relationships and how to fill in this section of the Canvas. The Customer Relationship segment describes the way in which the company interacts with its target customers.

Different types of customers will have different expectations for their relationship with your organization. For example, while many B2C customers would be happy to purchase product directly from a self-service website or through a retail location without any salesperson’s assistance, there are some types of customers (ex: Governments, B2B customers) that may require a dedicated or non-dedicated salesperson’s assistance. Furthermore, some customers may expect input into the design of the product (called Co-Creation). On the Customer Relationship section of your business model canvas, you should fill in the main ways through which you’ll interact with your customer (particularly, how your customer wants to interact with you).

If you think your customer wants daily or weekly updates from your business, maybe one of your Customer Relationships should be social media accounts. If your customer relies on tools like the phone book, maybe you need a listing in the Yellow Pages so they can contact you. The kinds of relationships you create with your customers should be driven fully by your customers’ wants and needs. Not every company needs a Facebook page and not every company needs a monthly newsletter. Think carefully about what your customer actually wants from you and think about the ways that you like to interact with organizations similar to your company.

Generally, there are 5 types of customer relationships (with sub-types and combined types as well):

  1. Personal assistance (sales representatives)
  2. Dedicated personal assistance (customer account managers)
  3. Retail
  4. Self-service (website)
  5. Co-creation

For our example company, the cleat organization, we would probably require only two types of customer relationships: non-dedicated customer account managers (for teams, schools, stores and other institutional customers) that can be contacted through the website or on the phone and a self-service website. However, the bulk of our customers (individual athletes) would interact with our sales department through self-service channels like the website; we may only require one or two customer account managers.

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