Although businesses have their own purchasing or procurement units, the ones who are actually buying
or selling or involved in the process are people who are from various backgrounds and so behaviors. To make the selling process effective, there are important characteristics each representative in a buying center should have.
The important characteristics of good customer service are as follows:
- Listening Skills:
A customer service representative must be able to listen to the needs of the customer. They take notes and summarize the customer’s words back to them to ensure understanding. Instead of planning their answer or retort as the customer is speaking, they listen with the goal of comprehension.
- Asking Skills:
Those in customer service know that asking the right questions can yield the answers that are necessary to solve the problem or address the issue. Quality questions help to uncover the actual needs, goals, objectives, and concerns of the customers so the representative can work to meet those needs and alleviate the concerns.
To work in customer service, responsibility is a must. This responsibility is two-sided, as it covers the agents’ responsibility in attendance, service, loyalty, and attitude. It also covers the ability of the agent to take responsibility for mistakes and results-to know that their own actions determine the results in customer situations.
Each need, question, or concern is addressed in quality customer service. Bypassing a question because the answer is not known can leave a customer feeling ignored. Many service-related inquiries are multi-faceted so it is important to fully respond to one inquiry before moving to another.
Customer service agents should be completely knowledgeable in the department/product/service for which they are responsible. Along with this knowledge comes confidence, which leads to customer satisfaction.
If a situation arises where an agent does not know an answer, he must be willing to admit not knowing and find the answer or pass the client to a representative that can answer the question.
A customer service representative should work through a situation to its completion. Instead of being quick to hand off the problem or hesitant in working through a customer’s needs, the agent should be thorough and work through each situation step-by-step until it is resolved.
Customer service is at its best when it is prompt. Allowing a customer to sit on hold or wait in the store for an available representative is unacceptable. A timely response to a request, question, concern, or problem is the first step to a solution. This may not always be speedy, but it should be efficient and thorough.
Any information relayed from a customer service representative to a customer must be 100 percent accurate. Whether it is instructions on assembly or performance or information on warranties, everything must be factual. Along with accuracy, in fact, the representative should be precise in the actions performed on the customer’s behalf.
Buyer-Seller Relationship development process
Buyer-seller relationships, start with the uncertain situations faced by the buyer, that is, need uncertainty, market uncertainty, and transactional uncertainty.
The buyer-seller relationship evolves across five stages-
- pre-relationship stage,
- exploratory stage,
- development stage,
- stable stage and
- final stage.
This evolution depends on variables like experience, uncertainty, distance, and commitment.
Depending on the extent of their interdependence, the relationships are categorized into transactional relationships, collaborative relationships, alliances, and reciprocal relationships.
Industrial marketers have to manage relationships with suppliers, customers, and distributors. This requires analyzing supplier relationships and dimensions, acquiring the right customers, creating value, understanding the importance of power, etc.
Sales representatives play a vital role in managing the relationships with customers by performing multiple functions – information exchange, negotiation and adaptation, crisis insurance, social relationship, and ego-enhancement.
Factors to avoid which can lead to unsuccessful buyer-seller relations
- Uncertainty and lack of trust,
- power difference,
- deviations from agreements,
- institutionalized patterns of operation
- and distance between buyers and sellers can lead to conflicts. These conflicts can be resolved through (Control measures) persuasion, compromise, negotiation, and bargaining.