The two dimensions of rapport
The two dimensions of rapport are said to be enjoyable interaction and personal connection . The overall rapport depends on the effective resultant of these two components. The customers expect these two components in the process of building a strong rapport.
The enjoyable interaction is a feeling of care and affection between two persons involved in the interaction. This evaluation of one’s exchange with another person is common to many service encounters, especially between customers and service employees. According to Lam (2010) the enjoyable interaction component of the rapport is attained from the favourable interaction alone irrespective of the service outcome being negative or positive. As rapport is built from relationships, its effect is predominant on healthy employee customer interaction than the service outcome.
The service delivery is generally associated with two aspects namely technical quality and functional quality . The technical quality concerns with the delivery of physical goods, service etc while the functional quality of service concerns with the way in which the service is delivered. Rapport is the element of functional quality as rapport determines how the service is delivered. Rapport is a dominant aspect among all the elements of functional delivery as it embraces all other aspects like eye-contact, gestures and language.
It can be argued that there is a noted distinction between technical quality and functional quality in the process of service delivery. But according to John this is generally ignored. However this distinction is clearly noticed in a supermarket transaction. For a customer may buy the electric cooker due to the informed advice of the service provider which can be understood as functional component. However, upon the usage of the cooker, the customer may feel dissatisfied with the functioning of cooker. Here the distinction is clearly observed.
The second component of rapport is the personal connection. This can be understood as a strong bond between the customer and the service employee. The reason for this connection is explained as ‘authentic understanding’ which is generally observed in service relationships based on personal connection. Authentic understanding is an emotional bond charged with emotional energy. The personal connection contributes for the development of service relationships between employees and customers. This phenomenon helps the service provider to make sense of what the customer thinks along the lines of what is important to the customer. Such process of rapport building involves building personal connections, internalising values, dispositions from the view point of others.
Understanding the means through which people are connected personally and uses the concept of psychological similarity. Psychological similarity is a state attained between people who possess similar attitudes, values and pre-dispositions. When people interpret a situation in the similar lines and in a similar sense, it is evident that psychological similarity exists between them. This state of psychological similarity tends to have a positive impact on the service relations. In the service context, there may be some repetitive business transactions between customers and service providers which give scope for extended communication.
If a customer and service provider show similar understanding about something, the conclusion is that the customer has a similar view which is consistent with that of the service provider. Another way in which the personal connection can be established is by developing a sense of interest towards others where the personal issues are shared and understood, be it in relation to service provision or not. The mutual sense of personal connection establishes a strong rapport between customers and service providers. It calls for a personal interest on what people are saying through intense involvement and commitment towards others.
The two constructs of rapport namely personal connection and enjoyable interaction have been explained in brief in the above paragraphs. Now, based on these two constructs rapport is defined in the service contexts. Rapport refers to the perception of the having an enjoyable interaction with the service provider backed by personal connection.