How the Employee Looks and Looks at you?

Despite the prominence of customer–employee relationships in service contexts, little empirical research examines the antecedents of rapport in relation to service providers’ attributes.

The research was made by Kawon Kim, an assistant professor at the School of Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management at the University of South Carolina and Melissa A. Baker, an assistant professor in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, in the Isenberg School of Management, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The results suggest that employee eye contact and courtesy are critical components of building customer–employee rapport, and subsequently customer satisfaction, while appearance surprisingly did not affect customer–employee rapport.

A significant interaction effect between employee eye contact and courtesy was found.

The findings build on the rapport literature and have important managerial implications for high-contact services, such as hospitality and tourism.


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