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Putting the Human Touch Back in Self-Service: Exploring Customer Perceptions of Augmented Self-Services at Physical Touchpoints
Authors: André Haff (Paderborn University, Germany), Nancy V. Wünderlich (Paderborn University, Germany)
Service providers aim to provide a seamless experience across the different channels a customer uses along his/her customer journey (Neslin et al., 2006; Lemon & Verhoef, 2016). Channel integration, the degree to which the channels of a provider interact, has been shown to positively impact service quality perceptions and to reduce perceived risk (Avery et al., 2012; Herhausen et al., 2015). Most recently, firms augment physical self-service channels with personal contact channels such as ATMs with the option of virtual teller assistance via live-video streaming (DBS, 2017).
Research on channel integrationhas focused primarily on the integration of online and offline self-service channels (Bendoly et al. 2005; Herhausen et al., 2015), but has not looked at the integration of self-services and personally delivered service types (Schumann et al., 2012) at physical touchpoints such as in video teller machines (DBS, 2017). Self-service and personally delivered services differ in the benefits they offer. Personally delivered services offer social value (Giebelhausen et al., 2014), self-services can increase the efficiency and productivity of the service task (Meuter et al., 2000). Studies indicate that technology infusion in service encounters can lead to lower rapport in employee-customer interactions (Giebelhausen et al., 2014). Also, individual preferences for personal service types have been shown to negatively impact self-service usage (Bitner et al., 2002). However, the customer perception and adoption of self-services that have been augmented with personal contact has not been explored. Thus, this research addresses the following questions: How do customers perceive augmented self-service terminals? To what extent do typical perceived downsides and benefits of personal and self-service persist?
We conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews regarding the newly implemented real-time video consulting service in a ticket vending machine (TVM) of a German railway company. To cover all stages of the implementation of the new service, we carried out a total of three studies. We interviewed 13 participants based on scenario-descriptions of the new feature of the TVM in January 2018, 11 participants directly after they used a prototype of the new TVM in November 2018 and 10 users of the technology after the official launch between January and February 2019. We analysed the audio-recorded transcripts using qualitative content analysis (Mayring, 2010). The results of the studies show that customers mainly have positive perceptions regarding the touchpoint-based channel integration, evaluating the introduction as innovative. However, some participants did not evaluate the integration as positive due to an expected loss of efficiency and unwanted social contact. We will conduct and analyse appr. 15 more interviews until April 2019. Results will be ready for presentation at Frontiers.