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Enhancing Comfortable and Enjoyable Service Experiences via Augmented Reality
Authors: Tseng-Lung Huang (College of Management, Yuan Ze University, Taiwan), Hui-Ying Chang (College of Management, Yuan Ze University), Hsin-Yen Wu (College of Management, Yuan Ze University)
Augmented-reality (AR) is a suitable tool to enable such excellent service augmentation for consumers (Rafaeli et al., 2017). Based on a 2017 survey report, global revenues for the AR market in 2016 was US$5.2 billion, with an annual increase of 181.3%, and it is estimated to reach more than US$162 billion by 2020 (International Data Corporation, 2016). The reason is because 89% of service businesses attempt to use AR to create an intelligent, individualized consumer experience to facilitate service augmentation and shape differences in brand competition advantage and interactive marketing strategies (Gartner, 2014; Hilken et al., 2017).
However, owing to inflated expectations, there are concerns about the business reality of these market projections (Gartner, 2015). Consumers expect AR to deliver comfortable and enjoyable rapport experience (Hilken et al., 2017) while also empowering them to actively shape their own experience (Rafaeli et al., 2017); however, most extant research on AR focused mostly on generic technology acceptance models (Rese et al., 2016). As the opportunities to augment the service delivery reality abound (Huang, 2018), future research is needed on the psychological mechanisms that contribute to the transfer of technological functionalities to comfortable and enjoyable rapport experience (Hilken et al., 2017). It is essential for the effectiveness of AR that people continuously depend on advanced technology service to interact with an offering (Javornik, 2016).
Furthermore, compound annual growth rates for AR are estimated primarily using device types and industry segmentation, rather than specific online customer needs (e.g., manipulating their self-representation through AR) and concerns (e.g., comfortable and enjoyable rapport experience) (Hilken et al., 2017). Therefore, these projections may not be a bellwether for sustained success; firms face a clear risk of building AR solutions that consumers will not embrace and rely on. Service managers need a more in-depth understanding of which consumers are likely to engage with this advanced technology service, what constitutes a comfortable and enjoyable rapport experience, and how to enhance consumers’ reliance on advanced technology service through AR.
Drawing on the implicit self-esteem theory, this study evaluates the effectiveness of augmented-reality (AR) as a strategic potential to enhance online comfortable and enjoyable rapport experience by comparing it with a conventional website. Results show that AR-based service augmentation enhances stronger rapport experience perceptions by simultaneously providing audiovisual stimuli, synchronous sense of ownership control, and reprocessability, compared with web-based service. The resulting excellent AR service augmentation, manifested in rapport experience, functions as a mediator and predicts consumers’ sense of reliance on the technology service. Based on the above results, the implications for theory and practice for enhancing comfortable and enjoyable service experiences driven by AR are discussed.