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Customer Recovery in Self-Service Technologies
In the modern world, self-service technologies (SST) have been implemented in the service industry. There are various types of SST services such as telephone-based technologies, online banking, internet-based interfaces etc. (Yen, 2005). Despite this huge rise in SST, it cannot be simply assumed that SST’s are always better than traditional services. As any other service, SST comes with its failures and disappointments (Shamdasani et al, 2008, Dimitriadis & Kyrezis, 2011, Dabholkar & Spaid, 2012).
Service failures may occur in all services, as well as SST. It is known that service failure recoveries (SFR) are extremely important for organisations in order to retain existing customers and to keep up good image of the business. SFR systems are also a vital part of SSTs (Buell et al, 2010; Oghazi et al, 2012; Beatson et al, 2006; Yen, 2005; Beatson et al, 2007).
This paper examines SFR within SST context and how it related to overall customer’s satisfaction in any business. It is important to understand the issues that are raised about SST and get managers of organisations who provide SST to help customers by providing various failure recoveries.
The Role of Customer Complaints in SST
One of the topics that have been focused on by multiple researchers is the role of customer complaints in SFR while using SST. Meuter et al (2000), Girman et al (2009), Robertson et al (2011), and Roberson & Shaw (2009) explore the relationship between customer complaints in SFR while using SST.
The four studies examine the relationships that influence customers’ likelihood of voice’ in SST context. The authors look at the following issue within different industries who use SST. Meuter et al (2000), Robertson et al (2011), and Roberson & Shaw (2009) do empirical studies in order to obtain their data and analysis while Girman et al (2009) only rely on other researcher’s data to obtain their conclusion. All of the researchers hypothesise that there is a positive relationship between having customer complaints while undergoing service failures in SST and customers’ perceptions of SST.
The findings of Meuter et al (2000), Girman et al (2009), Robertson et al (2011), and Roberson & Shaw (2009) show that there is a significant relationship between customer complaints while experiencing a service failure in using STT and customers’ satisfaction with the following SST. Robertson & Shaw (2009) and Meuter at al (2000) also found that ease of voice mediates the relationship between customers’ perceptions of likelihood of voice success and their likelihood of voice behaviour. Meuter et al (2000), Girman et al (2009), Robertson et al (2011), and Roberson & Shaw (2009) found that having customers complain during a service failure while using SST can contribute to better SFR and therefore increase customers’ satisfaction with SST and organisation as a whole.
The Role of Customer’s Emotions in SST
A second issue that was found in the articles studied is the role of customer’s emotions in experiencing service failures while using SST. Gelbrich (2009), Dabholkar & Bagozzi (2002), Yen (2005), and Johnson et al (2008) examine the relationship between customer’s emotions in service failures while using SST and customers’ overall satisfaction with SST.
Their research aims to distinguish the importance of customer’s behaviours and their emotions while experiencing service failures in STT. While Johnson et al (2008) and Yen (2005) hypothesise that there is a general relationship between the customers emotions in SF while using STT, Gelbrich (2009) hypothesises that anger and helplessness are negatively related to overall customer satisfaction. Furthermore, Dabholkar & Bagozzi (2002) hypothesise that it’s the anxiety and stress in using SST that are negatively related to overall customer satisfaction. All four academic articles are empirical studies that look at the following issue within SST in general, not focusing on specific industries or specific types of SST.
Gelbrich (2009), Dabholkar & Bagozzi (2002), Yen (2005), and Johnson’s et al (2008) findings reveal that there is a significant relationship between customer’s emotions in service failures while using SST and overall customer satisfaction. It was found that emotions’ impact on customer reactions occurred directly and indirectly through overall customer satisfaction. The conceptual frameworks used in all four studies can be applied to future research on any service experience.
Analysis of The Role of Customer Complaints in SST
An issue that may be raised is the role of customer complaints in SST. Meuter et al (2000), Girman et al (2009), Robertson et al (2011), and Roberson & Shaw (2009) explore the relationship between customer complaints in SFR while using STT and satisfaction with using SST. The findings of all four studies reveal that there is a significant relationship between customer complaints while experiencing a service failure in using STT and customer’s satisfaction with the following SST.
It is argued that the role of customer complaints plays a vital role in SFR in SST, and therefore contributes to the overall customer’s satisfaction. Authors argue that if customers do not make a complaint or if a timely response to these complaints are impossible the certain faults do not get fixed and therefore may lead to further failures. However, it also needs to be understood that ‘SST providers should not count on failure reports by users and be proactive because it is better to correct faults before they lead to failure’ (Girman et al, 2009, p. 47). It is also suggested by various researchers (e.g., Girman et al, 2009; Robertson et al, 2011; Roberson & Shaw, 2009) minor failures can end up discouraging first time users that look for perfect performance and are not familiar with SST and as for returning users, if these minor failures are repeated for some time it may demolish their trust in SST or even in the organisation who provides the following services.
On the down side, there are certain limitations to the following studies. The focus solely on customer complaints within this field can be argued to be the main one. Even though it is important to look at this issue, other researchers argue that there are far more important attributes that should be concentrated on. For example, Elliot et al (2013) argue that readiness for use of technology is a very important factor that should be looked at. They focus on customers’ technology readiness and argue that it also has a direct and positive influence on customers overall satisfaction and is an important factor that should be examined while looking at SFR in SST. It can be implied that role of customer complaints in SST is an important factor, however other issues should also be examined, but not necessary taken in count for.
All four studies draw a relationship and show the importance of customer complaints in SST when undergoing a service failure and Meuter et al (2000), Robertson et al (2011), and Roberson & Shaw (2009) studies have sufficient amount of empirical evidence to prove the following issue. Therefore, it can be argued that it is an important issue and it should be looked upon when constructing a research within the field of service failures in SST. It is also an issue that should be addressed by managers of organisations who provide SST in order to make sure their customers are satisfied and prevent them from stopping to use SST and leaving to their competitors.
Analysis of The Role of Customer’s Emotions in SST
Gelbrich (2009), Dabholkar & Bagozzi (2002), Yen (2005), and Johnson et al (2008) examine the relationship between customer’s emotions in service failures while using SST and customer’s overall satisfaction with SST. They found that there is significant positive relationship between customer’s emotions in service failures while using SST and overall customer satisfaction.
Gelbrich (2009), Yen (2005), and Johnson et al (2008) argue that customer’s emotions have a very strong link with SFR in SST and also with their overall perceived satisfaction. Gelbrich (2009) focuses on customer’s emotions such as anger and helplessness and suggests that they are negatively related to overall customer satisfaction, while Dabholkar & Bagozzi (2002) concentrated on emotions such as anxiety and stress in using SST and argues that they are negatively related to overall customer satisfaction as well. Yen (2005) and Johnson et al (2008) however, do not focus on any emotions in specific, on the other hand, they focus on situational factors and suggest that they affect customer’s emotions and emotions in turn effect their overall satisfaction with SFR and SST.
The main limitation of these studies is that those results only account for behavioural instincts and patterns that customers have, yet they do not account for emotions of the employees who might deal with SST recoveries and therefore it does not take in count how that may affect the overall customer satisfaction.
Another limitation is the focus on the certain issue. As mentioned above, other researchers argue that it’s the other issues that should be looked upon, such as complaints, perceived control and fun (eg. Oghazi et al, 2012 ; Dimitriadis & Kyrezis, 2011; Zhu et al, 2007; Robertson et al, 2011; Elliot et al, 2013). Also, Anitsal & Paige (2006) argue that customers in general are happy to use SST, and prefer to encounter service failures in SST than normal services with employees because they feel more in control and they think they are less likely to cause mistakes than employees. Therefore, they argue that customers’ emotions as well as the other two issues are irrelevant in this filed.
Overall, in the light of these limitations it can be understood that the role of customers’ emotions is very important factor and should be examined by researchers and managers of organisations that provide SST services, however, it is not the only issue that should be addressed. This issue may be addressed by identifying the various emotions customers have and combining them with various situational factors to examine more in depth what actually needs to be changed and used as a guide to how managers precede with recoveries in different situations according to how customers react.
Service recovery is an important factor when it comes to SST, in order to keep customers satisfied and prevent them from leaving to competitors or stopping them from using SST in general. This paper suggests that there are two critical factors that play a vital role and have a great impact on SFR in SST and customers perceived satisfaction: the role of customer complaints in SST and the role of customer’s emotion in SST.
SFR in SST is vital and the mentioned above two key components should be looked upon and examined by managers of organisations that provide SST as well as organisations that are planning to introduce SST. This paper suggests that those key issues should be examined in order to keep customers satisfied and loyal to organisations, making SST act as a proper asset to the organisations and trying to gain as much advantage from it as possible.
Although, it is argued that there are more factors that should be examined that may also influence SFR in SST and customer’s overall perceived satisfaction. Many of those factors are not discussed and investigated in this paper. However, ideally those factors should also be addressed and looked upon when contrasting a further research within this context.
Furthermore, this paper has a number of limitations. There was a word restriction set and due to the voluminous research made on this topic unfortunately only a few issues could be drawn from all the literature. Furthermore, the literature that has been examined and compared had their research carried out in different fields of SST and in different countries. Therefore, it can be concluded that it is hard to generalise the findings for all industries and also for a specific industry. This is because not every single one was examined. This leaves the comparison of the key issues and applicability of findings open for discussion.
Due to the following limitations mentioned, it needs to be understood that the conclusions drawn from studied papers should be interpreted in the light of these limitations. It can be identified as a guideline or as issues that should be examined by managers of businesses that provide SST services and organisations that are planning on introducing SSTs.
In conclusion, looking at the research with the limitations that have been drawn, it can be said that SFR plays a vital role in SST and it is important to have in order to keep customers satisfied.
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