The purpose of this paper is to explore the contribution of conversation as an element of interaction that occurs in a hairdressing service encounter with the aim of seeking to understand variations in conversation between “short” and “long‐term” clients; how conversation contributes to the development of “commercial friendships”; and how relationships develop through conversation.
Quota sampling is used to select eight hairdressing service encounters in one Australian salon for recording and subsequent interviews with clients. Quotas address gender and duration of continued patronage. Conversations and interviews were analysed thematically and using conversation analysis.
The progress and evolution of conversations varied between short and long‐term customers; topics also varied by this classification as well as gender. Conversation played an important function with respect to building friendship with the service provider; conversation also assisted in the development of long‐term relationships.
Apart from the small sample, the study was highly contextualised because it investigated encounters in a single hairdressing salon and explored perceptions of the service conversation from the perspective of only one party to the conversation, the client.
The findings point out the important role non‐task conversation can play in retaining customers in people‐processing services. Service providers perhaps can achieve more to improve the service experience and satisfaction of customers by placing less emphasis on the need for physical resources or promotion, instead focussing on the intangible of improving the conversation skills of their providers. More non‐task conversation and less task‐related talk may also facilitate a closer relationship between hairdresser and client. Further research on the nature and role of conversation during service encounters should offer guidance for improving the conversation skills of service providers and in improving customer retention.
This study specifically focuses on the role and nature of non‐task conversation as a specific aspect contributing to a customer's service encounter experience in a people processing service.
Garzaniti, I., Pearce, G. and Stanton, J. (2011), "Building friendships and relationships: The role of conversation in hairdressing service encounters", Managing Service Quality: An International Journal, Vol. 21 No. 6, pp. 667-687. https://doi.org/10.1108/09604521111185646
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