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Who and When Will Consumers Choose Online Versus Offline Platforms: Omni-Channel Customer Service In a Digital Economy
Authors: Tuck Siong Chung (Essec business school, Singapore), Sharon Ng (Nanyang Business School), Kim Huat Goh (Nanyang Business School)
Organizations are providing more service touch-points, ranging from traditional channels (such as offline face-to-face customer service) to digital channels (such as online chats), to engage the customer–an approach known as omni-channel customer service. However, scant research has examined who and when consumers are likely to reach out to the firm via the different service platforms. Field studies conducted across multiple countries (Thailand, Malaysia and Bangladesh) show that consumers’ choice of service platforms depend on their past-orientedness, process-focusness, conflict avoidance and the extent to which the situation evokes spontaneous reaction (e.g., when there is a service failure). Results showed that in the event of a service failure, consumers are more likely to reach out to the firm via traditional channels, even when digital channels are available. In addition, consumers who are past-oriented, process focused or conflict avoiding have a higher propensity to contact the service provider via traditional (non-digital) platforms. Findings from this research highlight the nuances in how consumers approach the different service channels and can better help firms better plan their service platforms.