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The Use of Self-Service Technology in Retailing

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Introduction

Introduction Today's fast paced world is becoming increasingly characterized by technology-facilitated transactions. Growing number of customers interact with technology to create service outcomes rather than personally interacting with a service firm employee. Meuter et al. (2000, 50) defined self-service technologies (SSTs) as "technological interface that enable customers to produce a service independent of direct service employee involvement." Given that the emphasis in the academic research has focused mostly on the interpersonal dynamics of service encounters, there is much to be learned about customer interactions with technology-based self-service delivery options (Bitner, Brown, and Meuter 2000, 141). It is increasingly evident that technological innovations and advancement will continue to become a critical component of customer-firm interactions. These technology-based interactions are expected to become a key criterion for long-term business success. This continuing proliferation of SSTs conveys the need for research that goes beyond the interpersonal dynamics of service encounters into this technology oriented context (Pasuraman 1996, 58). This paper shall focus on one of many industries where SSTs had been prominently implemented, which, in particular, is the airline industry. This research's goal is to gain insight into the effectiveness of SSTs for the industry and the research will be based on both the customer and the organization's perspective. This includes the possible costs and benefits that the customer and the organization might gain after the implementation of SSTs. This paper will also emphasize on the point that despite the dramatic increase in the use of self-service technologies across industries, customers may need help during the transition period from full- to self-service (Strother, Fazal, and Rettich 2010, 191). ...read more.

Middle

Customer service agents are relieved from the burden of manually entering information and checking in a large number of passengers before flights. They would be able to help people who have difficulties with kiosks and those who need to discuss special accommodations instead. The self-service model reduces or in some cases, eliminates the needs for airline staffs to personally cater for passengers in performing tasks that the passengers themselves are often willing and able to do it themselves. The main challenge faced by various aviation companies is in fact, keeping a large number of kiosk assistance on standby 24/7 to handle surges in passenger traffic. Customer Responses to SST Encounters Given the proliferation of SSTs and the wide variety of types and purposes of these SSTs, it is critical to understand how customers feel about them, how they use them, and whether they are willing to use it in the future. This section shall focus on the dis/satisfaction underlying SST experiences. It is well established that customer satisfaction can affect customer retention and profitability (Anderson and Fornell 1994, 247). Thus, understanding the underlying factors that trigger dis/satisfaction in SSTs has important managerial implications on customer-firm relationships. Research has shown that customer evaluations are influenced by attributions for success and failure in interpersonal service situations (Bitner 1990, 71). With SSTs, customers create the services for themselves therefore it is possible that they will have higher acceptance for the responsibility of the outcome (Mills, Chase, and Marguiles 1983, 305). ...read more.

Conclusion

A major complaint about SST was that there was often no recovery system when the SST failed (Bitner et al. 2002, 104). Firms need to develop a robust system and provide for on-the-spot recovery whenever possible. 4. Take an aggressive approach in advertising and promoting the SST. Let the customers know the benefits of this new service delivery mode. Awareness is a big part of SST success. 5. Plan for updates, repairs, maintenance, and general continuous improvement. Contingency planning is very important. The product life cycle of an innovative product is generally short. A firm must be able to evolve and adapt (Bitner et al. 2002, 106). Conclusion Technology had become an integral part of the marketplace. Consumers are increasingly given the option or are being asked to provide the service for themselves through the use of SSTs. It is important for providers of SSTs to understand how customers evaluate SSTs so that firms can improve on them. This paper has identified several factors that appear to influence dis/satisfaction with technology-based encounters. These factors can therefore provide insight for firms that currently offer or are planning to offer SST as an alternative method of service delivery. It is important to note that SST is not just for the firm's benefits, it is also intended to provide value for customers. The firm's ability in providing a quick and easy service for the customer will influence the choices they make. It is also important to keep the customers engaged by providing innovations. Effective management of SST delivery options can also become an excellent means of creating a competitive advantage. ...read more.

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