The role of the sales employee in securing customer satisfaction

Heiner Evanschitzky, Arun Sharma, Catja Prykop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Previous research has emphasized the pivotal role that salespeople play in customer satisfaction. In this regard, the relationship between salespeople's attitudes, skills, and characteristics, and customer satisfaction remains an area of interest. The paper aims to make three contributions: first, it seeks to examine the impact of salespeople's satisfaction, adaptive selling, and dominance on customer satisfaction. Second, this research aims to use dyadic data, which is a better test of the relationships between constructs since it avoids common method variance. Finally, in contrast to previous research, it aims to test all of the customers of salespeople rather than customers selected by salespeople. Design/methodology/approach: The study employs multilevel analysis to examine the relationship between salespeople's satisfaction with the firm on customer satisfaction, using a dyadic, matched business-to-business sample of a large European financial service provider that comprises 188 customers and 18 employees. Findings: The paper finds that customers' evaluation of service quality, product quality, and value influence customer satisfaction. The analysis at the selling firm's employee level shows that adaptive selling and employee satisfaction positively impact customer satisfaction, while dominance is negatively related to customer satisfaction. Practical implications: Research shows that customer-focus is a key driver in the success of service companies. Customer satisfaction is regarded as a prerequisite for establishing long-term, profitable relations between company and customer, and customer contact employees are key to nurturing this relationship. The role of salespeople's attitudes, skills, and characteristics in the customer satisfaction process are highlighted in this paper. Originality/value: The use of dyadic, multilevel studies to assess the nature of the relationship between employees and customers is, to date, surprisingly limited. The paper examines the link between employee attitudes, skills, and characteristics, and customer satisfaction in a business-to-business setting in the financial service sector, differentiating between customer- and employee-level drivers of business customer satisfaction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-508
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • adaptive selling
  • customer satisfaction
  • dominance
  • employee satisfaction
  • multilevel analysis
  • service profit chain
  • sales force management
  • sales force


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