Technology Detour in Personal Service Settings: When Promoting Convenience Inadvertently Reduces Customer/FLE interactions and Backfires the Shopping Experience

Ven, 04/23/2021 - 11:30 / 13:00

Luiss Research Seminars, Luiss

Speaker: Anastasia Nanni , Università Bocconi


Providing service convenience is pivotal to both customer satisfaction and retention. Service providers and retailers increasingly rely on high convenience technologies that allow customers to save time and effort, to make their customers’ experiences smooth and frictionless. A high convenience technology is narrowcasting which enables the real-time dissemination of information in the service setting, using artificial intelligence (AI) and digital displays. In the present research, we investigate the effect of high convenience technologies, in particular narrowcasting, in personal service settings, in which customers enter into close, collaborative relationships with frontline employees (FLEs). We advance propositions drawn from services marketing, system theories, and organizational behavior literature, which we test using a multimethod approach based on controlled field experiments, intercept surveys, and online studies. We secured the collaboration of a fashion retail chain, which represents a typical personal service setting, that recently introduced a narrowcasting technology in one of its stores in an effort to streamline and improve the efficiency of customers’ shopping experience. The results reveal that narrowcasting technology can exert negative effects on customer shopping behavior and experiences in personal service settings, due to its unintended effects on FLEs’ extra-role behaviors. Specifically, the technology increases customers’ service convenience, but it limits FLEs’ efforts to adapt and respond effectively to customer needs, resulting in an overall negative effect on spending and perceptions of the service experience. We confirm the causal mechanism associated with FLEs’ extra-role behavior by noting that the narrowcasting technology exerts a positive effect on service outcomes if the interaction between FLEs and customers is peripheral to the experience (e.g., when customers shop under time pressure).