Unmanned Bonds: the Impact of Self-Automated Service on Consumer Loyalty

Maik Huettinger, Vytenis Cubrinskas

Abstract


Self-service is a type of service, where a customer canperceive his/her buying action with more self-involvement.Since a customer has an impact on the quality of thecreation of the service experience, it naturally has an effecton the image of the company. The loyalty to a store or abrand is affected by the customer’s experience as well.This effect on customer attraction to a company is animportant variable in business. The literature thereforeidentified four main loyalty forms in the area of consumerbehavior: brand loyalty, vendor loyalty, store loyalty andservice loyalty.Before installation and during the usage of self-serviceautomated systems, it is useful for vendors to know if itwould not discourage some customers. Yet, the affect ofself-service option deployment on customer loyalty is notknown. The purpose of the research was to investigate andrelate certain consumers’ traits to the usage/preference ofself-service technology. It was discovered that, on average,more than 50% are active users and prefer ASS topersonal service. The discovery of enhanced attitudetowards a company, which offers self-service option,suggests opportunities of new type of loyalty development.The structure of the paper is determined by the scopeof the research purpose. In the first two parts of the paper,the theoretical framework behind the proposed approachwas evaluated. The methodological and analysis chapterdiscusses consumer behavior from a service and storeloyalty perspective. The hypothesis of this paper is that thechoice of self-service technology leads to a trait in thattechnology, resulting in a positive attitude towards thecompany. The empirical research is based on a sample of547 respondents and addresses the potential existence oftechnology-driven loyalty. Usage patterns and opinions areassessed. Comparison of means and binomial regressionwere used to test for significant linkages between traits andusage/preference for self-service technologies.Research objectives were: a) review the literatureabout consumer interaction with self-service technologiesand identify missing gaps/contradictions in existingknowledge b) describe consumer traits, that are influentialfor certain attitudes towards self-service technologies c)evaluate the importance of different consumer traits forpreference and usage, using a statistical analysis and datafrom the survey; classify the traits on demographicalparameters and d) provide recommendations for furtherexploration and implications for practical application.The findings indicate that consumers with a positiveattitude towards self-service machines express anincreased attraction to service providers. However, thefrequency of usage has not a significant impact on theperception off self-service technology attributes.Furthermore, the findings show that the perceivedadvantages of self-service technology are homogenousamong various users groups. The enhanced attitude towardsa company, which offers a self-service option, suggestsopportunities of a new type of loyalty development.Moreover, customers were grouped by demographicvariables, indicating that younger and higher incomecustomers are more loyal to technology-related serviceattributes.


Keywords


self-service, consumer behavior, consumer loyalty, automated service, personal service.

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Print ISSN: 1392-2785
Online ISSN: 2029-5839