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Retrospective: tracking the impact of communications effectiveness on client satisfaction, trust and loyalty in professional services

Paul Patterson (School of Marketing, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 8 August 2016




The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the motivation for the 1999 paper “The impact of communication effectiveness and service quality on relationship commitment in consumer, professional services”. In doing so, it is argued that today, the importance and relevance of effective interpersonal communications to managing client relationship have never been greater. Further, this paper updates developments in this area, and importantly, offers directions for future research.


This paper reflects on the motivation and rationale of the original paper and brings to bear relevant developments in the services marketing literature in the past 15-20 years.


As the professional services sector continues to grow in all economies, the credence properties and asymmetrical nature of information flow between provider and client means that the pivotal role of effective interpersonal communications in developing and nurturing client relations continues to grow in importance. Subsequent research has examined communications style; the impact of communications in a business-to-business professional services context and linked it to client psychological comfort, co-production and value co-creation, client engagement, client experience management and empowerment.

Practical implications

For professional service practitioners, the findings serve as a reminder that clients, especially first-time clients, have difficulty in evaluating the outcome quality and value-for-fee paid even after purchase and consumption of the service. Hence, it serves as a reminder that interpersonal communication has a pivotal role to play in influencing client perceptions of both outcome (“what” was produced) and process quality (“how” it was produced), that is their total experience.


The original paper was cited numerous times and generated broader thinking on the role of effective interpersonal communications in a number of areas of services marketing.



Patterson, P. (2016), "Retrospective: tracking the impact of communications effectiveness on client satisfaction, trust and loyalty in professional services", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 30 No. 5, pp. 485-489.



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