Customer Satisfaction and Commitment: Considering Relational Investment and Rapport in Customer Service Interactions


  • Kim K. Smith St. Norbert College


Customers who experience positive customer service experiences tend to feel high levels of satisfaction with the service and commitment to the service provider. This study suggests that investment in the interpersonal relationship that occurs during the rapport-building process in service encounters should be considered when measuring service outcomes. More specifically, items from the Investment Model (Rusbult 1980) were adapted to broaden the ways in which rapport, satisfaction, and commitment have all been measured and connected to describe customer service exchanges. Participants responded to an online survey designed to capture a recent service transaction experience. Results of this study demonstrate significant correlations between variables representing rapport and customer satisfaction and rapport and customer commitment. Each variable construct included relational investment-focused items. This study provides evidence that investment in a relationship can connect enjoyable interaction and personal connection to customer satisfaction and relational commitment. Implications for employee training that more specifically focuses on rapport and relationship-building to account for recent shifts in organizational landscapes are discussed.


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