Relationships Count In Business, New Study Says

Compiled By Jill Jusko Relationship-building combined with an eye for growth and the ability to adapt to change distinguish top-performing companies from their less successful counterparts, a new study says. More than two-thirds of top-performing companies focus on meeting customer expectations and extending long-term customer relationships, show findings from the joint study released by management consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. In contrast, nine of 10 lower-performing companies concern themselves with cost-reduction efforts, and more than nine of 10 focus on divesting businesses. "The study confirms with statistically significant data the increasingly prevailing view that relationship-centric organizations are better positioned to succeed in the competitive environment of the 21st century," says Gary Neilson, Booz Allen senior vice president and study sponsor. Other key survey findings include:

  • 79% of all survey respondents are shifting their focus from selling products and services to developing value-added solutions in partnership with their customers.
  • Top-performing companies are well ahead of their poorer-performing counterparts in forging long-term relationships with customers (66% vs. 43%) and suppliers (68% vs. 57%).
  • 78% of top-performing companies actively look for external opportunities and threats, compared with 57% of poorer-performing survey respondents.
The joint study surveyed more than 110 senior executives from Fortune 1000 companies. The measure used to distinguish top performers from poor performers was five-year total return to investors from 1996 to 2000.
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