Adopting Self-Service Technology to Do More with Less

Topics: Service system, Customer service, Customer Pages: 27 (9545 words) Published: October 14, 2014
Adopting self-service technology to do more with less
Toni Hilton
Westminster Business School, University of Westminster, London, UK, and

Tim Hughes, Ed Little and Ebi Marandi
Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK Abstract Purpose – Employees have traditionally played a major role in the customer’s service experience. Yet self-service technology (SST) replaces the customer-service employee experience with a customer-technology experience. This paper seeks to use a service-dominant logic lens to gain fresh insight into the consumer experience of SST. In particular, it aims to consider the resources that are integrated when consumers use SSTs, their coproduction role and what might constitute value. Design/methodology/approach – The paper presents findings from 24 semi-structured interviews that focus on the everyday experiences of consumers in using SST. Both genders and all socio-economic categories within all adult age groups from 18 to 65 þ were included. Findings – There is a danger that organizations embrace SST as an economic and efficient mechanism to “co-create” value with consumers when they are merely shifting responsibility for service production. The paper identifies risks when customers become partial employees and concludes that customers should perceive the value they gain from using SST to be at least commensurate with their co-production role. Research limitations/implications – The qualitative study was confined to the consumer perspective. Future research within organizations and among employees who support consumers using SST would extend understanding, as would research within the business-to-business (B2B) context. Quantitative studies could measure the frequency and extent of the phenomena the authors report and assist with market segmentation strategies. Practical implications – The application of service-dominant logic highlights potential risks and managerial challenges as self-service, and consequent value co-creation, relies on the operant resources of customers, who lack the tacit knowledge of employees and are less easy to manage. There is also the need to manage a new employee role: “self-service education, support and recovery”. Originality/value – The paper draws attention to managerial challenges for organizations to ensure that SST adoption enhances and does not destroy value. Additionally, it highlights the importance of distinguishing between co-production and co-creation. Keywords Self-service technology, Service-dominant logic, Co-production, Co-creation operant resources, Resource integration, Self-service, Customer services quality Paper type Research paper

An executive summary for managers and executive readers can be found at the end of this article.

As businesses emerge from the global recession there is much talk about the need for organizations (in both the public and private sectors) to “do more with less”. Many might say that organizations adopt self-service technology (SST) precisely to achieve more with less as customers interact with machines, undertaking tasks previously performed by service employees and transforming the customer role from essentially passive to active. However, the service-dominant logic lens reveals a potential danger. Organizations might embrace SST as an efficient mechanism to co-create value with customers when in fact they are merely shifting responsibility for service production to their customers. We define SST as technologies, The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at

Journal of Services Marketing 27/1 (2013) 3–12 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited [ISSN 0887-6045] [DOI 10.1108/08876041311296338]

provided by an organization, specifically to enable customers to engage in self-service behaviors. In many cases this will involve customers performing tasks that were previously undertaken by the employees of the organization. The...

References: Further reading
IfM and IBM (2007), “Succeeding through service innovation: a discussion paper”, Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge, Cambridge
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