This section discusses the relationship of rapport, defined as personal connection and enjoyable interaction, with outcomes like customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and word-of-mouth communication.
Rapport with customer satisfaction
Rapport leads to customer satisfaction based on the formation of service relationships. The service relationships are formed by a strong rapport which leads to a state of perceived control where the customers can control and predict the factors leading to service outcomes. Perceived control enables greater predictability among customers about the service provider which contributes to better satisfaction. It is known that close personal contacts and sharing of personal information are known to be the antecedents for better rapport between customers and service employees.
In the due course of sharing personal information, the service provider gets to know the requirements of customers and this enables the service provider to customise the products according to the needs of customers. As the needs of customers are matched through customization the customer satisfaction is enhanced, thanks to the dimensions of rapport. Macintosh also states that due to the close personal contacts, the customer awareness is increased about the service or about the goods. This occurs as a result of repetitive business transactions. Given the frequency of visits and the awareness about the products, the customers’ perception of service increases thereby leading to the close alignment between expectations and the service provided which in turn results in customer satisfaction.
Rapport and customer loyalty
This section discusses the connection between rapport and customer loyalty. Sound rapport between a customer and a service employee results in strengthened relations. A commitment arises from such a relationship. The effects of such commitment were discussed in the previous section about aspects of customer satisfaction. However, the depth of such commitment is a key to repeat custom which symbolises customer loyalty. The marketing literature indicates that there is a positive correlation between rapport and customer loyalty (Berry, 1995). For instance, a good rapport with a hair stylist provides such an environment where the expectations of customers can be understood and the service is delivered accordingly thus prompting repeated visit to the hair stylist, and ultimately fostering customer loyalty.
Rapport and word-of-mouth communication
It is obvious to say that when rapport is positively correlated with customer satisfaction and customer loyalty, it logically follows with positive word-of-mouth. Commercial friendships between customer and service provider enable customers to recommend the service provider to others in a positive way. Word of mouth communication can be understood as behavioural component of loyalty.