Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the mediation impacts of core, relational and tangible service-quality features on the relationship between customer–frontline employee rapport and customer dependency in an emerging market context. The study examines the moderating effects of relationship age and frequency of customers’ physical visits. Design/methodology/approach: Partial least squares-based structural equation modelling was used to analyse data from a survey of 290 financial services customers in Dhaka, Bangladesh using the convenience sampling technique. Findings: Results show that relational service-quality features had the largest mediation impact on the rapport–dependency relationship, followed by core and tangible service-quality features. Relationship age was not found to be a significant moderator for any relationship. However, the moderation effect of the frequency of customers’ physical visits to the service premises was significant, but only for the link between relational service-quality features and customer dependency and not for the other two types of service-quality features. Research limitations/implications: Data collected from several other emerging markets would provide more rigorous findings: this is recommended as an avenue for further research. Practical implications: Practitioners can manipulate specific relational or tangible service-quality features to increase customer dependency on their firms, thus ensuring longer-term customer retention. Originality/value: This study is the first one to examine the relative significance of the impacts of relational features vs tangible features of services on customer dependency in the emerging market context, with rapport serving as an antecedent.