Kirchmajer, Laszlo and Patterson, Paul, 2004, The Role of Interpersonal Communication in the Development of Client Trust and Closeness in a SME Professional Services Context, Small Enterprise Research, 12(1), 45-56.
This study develops and tests a model of effective interpersonal communication as an antecedent to client trust and closeness amongst small to medium enterprises (SME) professional services providers - personal financial planners. A new multidimensional scale for interpersonal communications is developed and tested, resulting in the identification of three dimensions: Communications clarity (5 items), Social communications (4 items), and Information provision (7 items). Client trust is investigated also as a multidimensional construct with credibility trust and benevolence trust being the two dimensions used. Closeness is investigated as a unidimensional construct. The results suggest that there is a positive relationship between communications clarity and credibility trust and closeness; social communications and benevolence trust and closeness. These findings would be beneficial for SME professional services providers, as it would allow them to develop focused interpersonal communications strategies to enhance their clients' perceptions of the trust and closeness. Increased client perception of trust and closeness is beneficial as it leads to increased referrals and positive word-of-mouth recommendations and mutually beneficial long-term relationships.