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Customer Integration in Separated Digital Services: Fairness Perceptions and Relational Outcomes
Authors: Mario Schaarschmidt (University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany), David Dose (Aston Business School), Sonja Christ-Brendemühl (University of Koblenz-Landau), Gianfranco Walsh (FSU Jena)
More and more people-intense services are being replaced by so-called self-services, many of them provided through digital channels. While the advantage of such types of services seem obvious for service providers – an increase in operational efficiency – we do still not fully understand how people react to being pushed into self-services, especially when alternatives are available.
The authors conducted 44 initial interviews with customers concerning separated (i.e., service provision and service consumption are separated) and unseparated services. The goal of this prestudy was to identify 1) which factors affect fairness perceptions in service provision and 2) which forms of services are suitable for the experimental design. Based on these qualitative findings, the authors conducted two experimental studies. Study 1 was an experimental, scenario-based 2x2 between-subject-design study among consumers (N=356). The authors manipulated whether customers are in a situation with a banking service or an airline service and distinguish self-services from services, where service personnel is available. Study 2 again was an experimental study. The authors employed a 2 (self-service / no self-service) x 2 (price separation / no price separation) x 2 (reputation good / reputation bad) experimental study-design. The design was pretested based on a set of 153 Amazon Mechanical Turk workers. For the main study, an online, scenario-based survey with N=342 people was utilized. In both studies, fairness perceptions, positive word-of mouth, willingness to co-create services and silent endurance function as relevant customer outcomes that are potentially affected by the type of service.
The findings suggest that both procedural and distributive fairness (measured with three items each) differ between self-services and the people-intense alternative, and mediate the relationship between the experimental condition of various forms of voice (i.e. positive word-of-mouth, silent endurance). The differences become even more prevalent, when self-services and people-intense services are priced equally. The authors aim for presenting their results as well as a design for a potential Study 3, in which more recent forms of self-services will be considered (e.g. service robots).