Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Customer Relations More Vital Than New Products

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Customer Relations More Vital Than New Products

Article excerpt

Business has reached the point where new processes and new relationships with customers is more important to success than turning out new products.

"To even qualify to be among the best in the world today means you have to have competitive quality and time to market, not just to promote. To litigate to be a leader, you must deliver that extra dimension, that superior value that differentiates you from your competition," said George Conrades, a business consultant, speaking at Infoch '92 in its final day at the Myriad Convention Center Wednesday.

"Judging your customers is too tough. No matter how well you think you do, it is their interpretation of your performance, your value that you deliver, that counts. Not only your product, but your service as well _ both of these must be delivered with flawless execution, in ways that mean more to your customer than what the other guy is either willing or able to do," he said.

Conrades retired March 1 from the position of senior vice president and general manager of International Business Machines Corp.'s corporate marketing and services after 31 years with the firm. He is a managing partner in a business management consulting firm in Greenwich, Conn., that works to restructure companies to more competitive positions.

Businesses must be willing to provide partnership support to their customers, while being competitive in product quality and price, he said.

"All of us are challenged to keep competitive, to stay up with and ahead of changes in market and opportunity, and competitive offering of technology . . . We are entering the stage where inventing new products has become less important than inventing and perfecting new processes," he said.

Businesses are now tailoring their products to meet their customers' needs as part of the service necessary to preserve accounts, he said.

"As the result of new service relationships with important customers, we see them expanding into partnerships."

Unique business relationships are increasing, and the ability of businesses to handle them will become the rule to compete in global competition, Conrades predicted.

"For us to deliver that kind of value, I am suggesting that we have got to move beyond the structure of making offers and create the ability to also take requests," he said.

The changes must be accompanied by better management of resources, data, finances and industrial production. The new trend has been labeled a "work flow paradigm or process," he said.

Conrades cited a supplier of Walrt Stores Inc. as an example of the new customer partnership relationship. …

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