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Abstract

Relational factors arising from the customer–employee interaction have been identified as important to service outcomes. This article investigates the role of social regard as demonstrated by service staff to customers, in an effort to develop an understanding of noncore service variables in customer satisfaction. Social regard is defined as the genuine respect, deference, and interest shown to the customer by the service provider such that the customer feels valued or important in the social interaction. In this study, the dimensions of the social regard construct were first clarified in a qualitative study. In a follow-up survey of 406 customers, across the service industries of hairdressing, cafes, and naturopaths, social regard was found to have a significant influence on service encounter satisfaction. Further, social regard was shown to have a greater predictive power on satisfaction than value for money in all service industries sampled, and a greater predictive power than perceived core service quality for the sample of cafe customers. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.