Unmanned Bonds: the Impact of Self-Automated Service on Consumer Loyalty
Keywords: self-service, consumer behavior, consumer loyalty, automated service, personal service
AbstractSelf-service is a type of service, where a customer can perceive his/her buying action with more self-involvement. Since a customer has an impact on the quality of the creation of the service experience, it naturally has an effect on the image of the company. The loyalty to a store or a brand is affected by the customer's experience as well. This effect on customer attraction to a company is an important variable in business. The literature therefore identified four main loyalty forms in the area of consumer behavior: brand loyalty, vendor loyalty, store loyalty and service loyalty.Before installation and during the usage of self-service automated systems, it is useful for vendors to know if it would not discourage some customers. Yet, the affect of self-service option deployment on customer loyalty is not known. The purpose of the research was to investigate and relate certain consumers' traits to the usage/preference of self-service technology. It was discovered that, on average, more than 50% are active users and prefer ASS to personal service. The discovery of enhanced attitude towards a company, which offers self-service option, suggests opportunities of new type of loyalty development.The structure of the paper is determined by the scope of the research purpose. In the first two parts of the paper, the theoretical framework behind the proposed approach was evaluated. The methodological and analysis chapter discusses consumer behavior from a service and store loyalty perspective. The hypothesis of this paper is that the choice of self-service technology leads to a trait in that technology, resulting in a positive attitude towards the company. The empirical research is based on a sample of 547 respondents and addresses the potential existence of technology-driven loyalty. Usage patterns and opinions are assessed. Comparison of means and binomial regression were used to test for significant linkages between traits and usage/preference for self-service technologies.Research objectives were: a) review the literature about consumer interaction with self-service technologies and identify missing gaps/contradictions in existing knowledge b) describe consumer traits, that are influential for certain attitudes towards self-service technologies c) evaluate the importance of different consumer traits for preference and usage, using a statistical analysis and data from the survey; classify the traits on demographical parameters and d) provide recommendations for further exploration and implications for practical application.The findings indicate that consumers with a positive attitude towards self-service machines express an increased attraction to service providers. However, the frequency of usage has not a significant impact on the perception off self-service technology attributes. Furthermore, the findings show that the perceived advantages of self-service technology are homogenous among various users groups. The enhanced attitude towards a company, which offers a self-service option, suggests opportunities of a new type of loyalty development. Moreover, customers were grouped by demographic variables, indicating that younger and higher income customers are more loyal to technology-related service attributes.
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