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The Customer Experience in a Primary Standard Breast Augmentation
Authors: Jessica Joan Castles (Queensland University of Technology, Australia), Rebekah Russell-Bennett (Queensland University of Technology)
The customer experience is a key element of service design, playing a fundamental role in determining customer preferences, and creating a new lever for value creation (Texiera, 2012; Gentile, 2007). Customer experience has been used as the theoretical foundation for research across services aimed at the mind and possessions (e.g. travel, online shopping, grocery retailing, hospitality and retail banking) yet there has been little done in services aimed at the body where expectations and outcomes are highly subjective and unpredictable and have physical consequences (Walden, Panagopoulous & Shrader, 2010; Dawn & Lee, 2004). Services aimed at the body increase the salience of customer experience dimension of sensorial which may alter the overall customer experience.
In the field of breast augmentation there is rising rates of dissatisfaction with technically successful surgery and the rates of re-operation are increasing (Cash, Dual & Perkins, 2002, Phillips 2017). One reason is the gap between the imagined customer experience of the surgery (the look and feel of the new breasts) and the reality. The role of virtual technology in enhancing the service experience has been widely acknowledged in fields such as fashion retailing, e-commerce and tourism (De Heras, 2012; Xin, 2013). The extant literature within the cosmetic medical field has considered the capabilities of 3D imaging within the context of surgical simulation as a planning aid to demonstrate potential breast implant outcomes for patients, thus facilitating better expectations management (De Heras et al, 2012). While the literature considers the role of 3D breast imaging as an aid in the customer experience (Scholz & Smith, 2016) and evaluates the breast simulation accuracy (Roostaeian & Adams, 2014; Mailey et al, 2013) there is little understanding of how and whether 3D breast imaging can bring the imagined goal closer to the reality to improve the customer experience. This research addresses two research questions:
RQ1: How do the breast augmentation service touchpoints influence the imagined customer experience for primary standard breast augmentation patients?
RQ2: How does 3D imaging software influence the expected customer experience to improve the actual customer experience for primary standard breast augmentation patients?
This research will report the findings of qualitative longitudinal interviews with 20 patients of a metropolitan breast surgery clinic The interviews will be before and after surgery (40 interviews) with half the patients electing to undergo 3D breast imaging and half receiving the standard service (no imaging). The research has theoretical contributions for the customer experience, 3D imaging and medical literatures. There are also key practical contributions for medical practitioners through valuable insight into patient experiences, expectations management, and optimal usage of 3D imaging resources.