The Four Relationship Phases in a Relationship Policy

Eline Foekema, 25 september 2016.

Every company needs a relationship policy in order to be able to communicate as good as possible to its customers. The following article shows the four different phases in a relationship policy.


Figure 1. Relationship policy per phase (Peelen, 1989)

The first stage is the exploratory phase, in which the company is being positioned as an attractive businesses so it will be able to acquire its first customers (figure 1). With this positive image, certain expectations have been raised, but since the company has not have a past, it can be perceived as a risky company. Therefore the company needs to reinforce relationships as well as increasing their commitment. In order to transfer customers from the explanatory phase to the saturation phase, providing information is essential, as well differentiating itself from competitors and doing cross-selling (the purchase of products which have not previously been purchased). Furthermore, in this phase it is important to keep track of satisfactional levels and notice any negative developments regarding the early relationships with the customers, and from thereon to take action (Beltman and Peelen, 2015).

The second stage is the growth phase. Within this stage it is essential that the company demonstrates activities which emphasize the uniqueness of the company (figure 1). If it fails to do so, it will loose the build-up relationships with some its customers. Moreover, other reasons of loosing customers can be of a lack of interaction, cross-selling, customization and failing in exceeding expectations. The goals of this phase are thus increasing commitment and continuing positive growth of the company (Beltman and Peelen, 2015).

The third phase is the maturity phase, and hopefully the last phase for he company to be in. Within this phase the profitability and the loyalty of the customers are stable and and are the highest level (figure 1). The customer fully trusts the company and vice versa. This phase shows that the relationship policy has worked and it pays off. The company needs to retain its current relationship policy (Beltman and Peelen, 2015). Furthermore, it needs to stay up-to-date with its social media, as social listening is an essential part in monitoring and analysing what the customers are saying about the company (Griffith, 2016). Moreover, social media can show how competitors are doing and what the interests are of a specific target market (Griffith, 2016).

After the development phases, the decline phase may arise. In here, the relationships that had been build are breaking down, from which the commitment lowers to a low level and ultimately the turnover decreases. There might be many reasons for this negative break-down, such as life events that have happened in the customer’s life. The only way to get out of this phase is to determine the cause and by suggesting solutions (Beltman and Peelen, 2015).

As a conclusion it can be said that there are four different phases in a relationship policy. For a company, it would be best to stay in the third phase, which is the maturity phase. This phase shows that the relationship policy clearly has worked and that the company needs to keep continuing this policy in order to sustain, and make eventual profits.


Beltman, R., Peelen, E. (2005). Customer Relationship Management. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited. Retrieved at 24 september 2016.

Griffith, G. (2016). Get to know customers better by monitoring social media sentiment. Raconteur. Retrieved at 25 september 2016. Retrieved from:

Peelen, E. (1989). Relaties tussen consument en aanbieder, een basis voor herhalingsaankopen, Alblasserdam: Haveka. Retrieved at 24 september 2016.


2 thoughts on “The Four Relationship Phases in a Relationship Policy

  1. Pieter de Rooij

    Interesting theory. It even becomes more interesting if you talk to customers and find their patterns. Then you will see that there are other patterns as well. See e.g. Ryans and Weinberg (1978) or my study in the performing arts into loyalty patterns.

    Liked by 1 person

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