Advances in AI are increasingly enabling firms to develop services that utilize autonomous vehicles (AVs). Yet, there are significant psychological barriers to adoption, and insights from extant literature are insufficient to understand customer emotions regarding AV services. To allow for a holistic exploration of customer perspectives, we synthesize multidisciplinary literature to develop the Customer Responses to Unmanned Intelligent-transport Services based on Emotions (CRUISE) framework, which lays the foundation for improved strategizing, targeting, and positioning of AV services. We subsequently provide empirical support for several propositions underpinning the CRUISE framework using representative multinational panel data (N = 27,565) and an implicit association test (N = 300). We discover four distinct customer segments based on their preferred degree of service autonomy and service risk. The segments also differ in terms of the valence and intensity of emotional responses to fully autonomous vehicle services. Additionally, exposure to positive information about AV services negatively correlates with the likelihood of membership in the two most resistant segments. Our contribution to service research is chiefly twofold; we provide: 1) a formal treatise of AV services, emphasizing their uniqueness and breadth of application, and 2) empirically validated managerial directions for effective strategizing based on the CRUISE framework.
The industrial revolutions started in the late 18th century and automated blue-collar jobs in manufacturing. It dramatically increased our standard of living by bringing high quality, low cost manufactured goods to the masses. Today, our economies are at turning point similar to the industrial revolution, but this time in the service sector. Technologies rapidly become smarter and more powerful, while at the same time, they get smaller, lighter, and cheaper. These technologies include hardware such as related to physical robots, drones, and autonomous vehicles and their components (e.g., processors, sensors, cameras, chips), wearable technologies, and code and software for analytics, natural language processing, image processing, biometrics, virtual reality, augmented reality, cloud technologies, mobile technologies, and geo-tagging, low-code platforms, robotic process automation (RPA), and machine learning. Together, these technologies will transform virtually all service sectors. Service robots and artificial intelligence (AI), combined with these technologies, will lead to rapid innovation that will dramatically improve the customer experience, service quality, and productivity all at the same time.
Purpose-Service robots are now an integral part of our living and working environment, making them one of the hot topics for service researchers today. Against this background, this paper reviews the recent service robot literature following a Theory-Context-Characteristics-Methodology (TCCM) approach to capture the state-of-art of the field. In addition, building on qualitative input from researchers active in this field, we highlight where opportunities for further development and growth lie. Design/methodology/approach-This paper identifies and analyzes 88 manuscripts (featuring 173 individual studies) published in academic journals featured on the SERVSIG literature alert. In addition, qualitative input gathered from 79 researchers active in the service field and doing research on service robots is infused throughout the manuscript. Findings-The key research foci of the service robot literature to date include comparing service robots with humans, the role of service robots' look & feel, consumer attitudes toward service robots, and the role of service robot conversational skills & behaviors. From a TCCM view, we discern dominant theories (anthropomorphism theory), contexts (retail/healthcare, U.S. samples, B2C settings, and customer-focused), study characteristics (robot type: chatbots, not embodied, and text/voice-based; outcome: customer intentions), and methodologies (experimental, picture-based scenarios). Originality/value-This paper is the first to analyze the service robot literature from a TCCM perspective. Doing so, this study gives (1) a comprehensive picture of the field to date and (2) highlights key pathways to inspire future work.
The digital service revolution will significantly change the way we do business. A big part of this revolution are service robots in various forms and shapes. In this article, we illustrate the implication of service robots for the service industry. We compare service robots with traditional self-service technologies as well as human service personnel and identify opportunities and challenges. In the Service Robot Deployment Model (SRD Model), we highlight promising areas for human-robot collaboration and derive managerial implications for the service frontline in this new reality with service robots.
Due to the infusion of artificial intelligence, service robots are on the rise. In this chapter the authors provide examples of how the service industry can benefit from the implementation of robots at the organizational frontline. Thereby, they distinguish service robots from well-established self-service technologies and compare human service representatives with service robots. The Service Robot Deployment Model is a framework that can be used to outline service tasks which can be better performed by robots, humans or hybrid teams. To highlight the role of service robots the authors provide a case study on AI in financial services and conclude the chapter by providing managerial implications for service robot’s usage in service organizations.
Purpose This study aims to show how major service developments in China, India and Singapore offer different perspectives on how cost-effective service excellence (CESE) can be achieved in health care. Resulting research opportunities are highlighted. Design/methodology/approach The study is based on the authors’ in-depth experience in these three countries. Findings Digital platforms and related technologies seem more advanced in China than in most western economies in terms of their application, user acceptance and market penetration. The resulting digital ecosystem enabled innovation that provides CESE in digital health care. Second, India benefitted from a large health care market without excessive regulation, litigation risks and interlocking stakeholders. These allowed a number of organizations to achieve CESE through new business models and frugal innovation. Likewise, Singapore is a global leader in health outcomes while it also has one of the lowest health care cost per capita. This is achieved through focus on costs and productivity, standardization and digitization while being intensely focused on health outcomes and the patient experience. Research limitations/implications The three countries stand out in the ways they achieved CESE in health care and offer interesting research opportunities. China has fully integrated digital platforms with rapid innovation capabilities, India has extremely high volumes that met focused service factory and frugal service innovation approaches, and Singapore is a tightly controlled health care market with high levels of discipline, both facilitated by its culture and small size. These markets invite research to explore their successes in more depth and deduct lessons for CESE in health care elsewhere. Originality/value Together, the author team has decades of managerial, executive teaching and research experience related to service in Asia. The observations and reflections in this study originate from this unique perspective.
This study is the first to provide an integrated view on the body of knowledge on artificial intelligence (AI) published in the marketing, consumer research, and psychology literature. By leveraging a systematic literature review (SLR) using a data-driven approach and quantitative methodology (including bibliographic coupling), this study provides an overview of the emerging intellectual structure of AI research in the three bodies of literature examined. We identified eight topical clusters: (1) memory and computational logic; (2) decision making and cognitive processes; (3) neural networks; (4) machine learning and linguistic analysis; (5) social media and text mining; (6) social media content analytics; (7) technology acceptance and adoption; and (8) big data and robots. Furthermore, we identified a total of 412 theoretical lenses used in these studies with the most frequently used being: (1) the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology; (2) game theory; (3) theory of mind; (4) theory of planned behavior; (5) computational theories; (6) behavioral reasoning theory; (7) decision theories; and (8) evolutionary theory. Finally, we propose a research agenda to advance the scholarly debate on AI in the three literatures studied.
Purpose – Extant research mainly focused on potentially negative customer responses to service robots. In contrast, our study is one of the first to explore a service context where service robots are likely to be the preferred service delivery mechanism over human frontline employees. Specifically, we examine how customers respond to service robots in the context of embarrassing service encounters. >>> Design/methodology/approach – This study employs a mixed-method approach whereby an in-depth qualitative study (Study 1) is followed by two lab experiments (Studies 2 and 3). >>> Findings – Results show that interactions with service robots attenuated customers’ anticipated embarrassment. Study 1 identifies a number of factors that can reduce embarrassment. These include the perception that service robots have reduced agency (e.g., are not able to make moral or social judgements) and emotions (e.g., are not able to have feelings). Study 2 tests our base model and shows that people feel less embarrassed during a potentially embarrassing encounter when interacting with service robots compared to frontline employees. Finally, Study 3 confirms that perceived agency, but not emotion, fully mediates frontline counterparty (employee vs. robot) effects on anticipated embarrassment. >>> Practical implications – Service robots can add value by reducing potential customer embarrassment because they are perceived to have less agency than service employees. This makes service robots the preferred service delivery mechanism for at least some customers in potentially embarrassing service encounters (e.g., in certain medical contexts). >>> Originality/value – This study is one of the first to examine a context where service robots are the preferred service delivery mechanism over human employees.
Purpose – Extant research focused mostly on potentially negative customer responses to service robots. In contrast, our study is the first to explore a service context where service robots are the preferred service delivery mechanism over human frontline employees. Specifically, we examine how customers respond to service robots in the context of potentially embarrassing service encounters. Design/methodology/approach – This study employs a mixed-method approach whereby a qualitative in-depth study (Study 1) is followed by two lab experiments (Studies 2 and 3). Findings – Results show that interactions with service robots attenuated customers’ anticipated embarrassment. Study 1 identifies a number of factors that can reduce embarrassment. These include the perception that service robots have reduced agency (e.g., are not able to make moral or social judgements) and emotions (e.g., are not able to have feelings), a text-based interaction style, and enhanced interaction privacy. Study 2 tests our base model and shows that people feel less embarrassed during a potentially embarrassing service encounter when interacting with service robots compared to frontline employees. Finally, Study 3 confirms that perceived agency, but not emotion, fully mediates frontline counterparty (employee vs. robot) effects on anticipated embarrassment. Practical implications – Service robots can add value by reducing potential customer embarrassment because they are perceived to have less agency than service employees. This makes service robots the preferred service delivery mechanism for at least some customers in potentially embarrassing service encounters (e.g., in certain medical contexts). Originality/value – This study is the first to examine a context where service robots are the preferred service delivery mechanism over human employees. Keywords – Service robots, artificial intelligence, agency, embarrassment, service encounter.
Purpose – To explore the potential role of biometric technologies in driving service excellence, productivity and security in the service sector, and their role in fostering sustainable competitive advantage. Design/methodology/approach – This paper used a case study approach involving 16 in-depth interviews with executives at Singapore Airlines and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore on their use of biometrics technologies with focus on the Fully Automated Seamless Travel project. Findings – The potential for innovative technologies to foster sustainable competitive advantage can be assessed in terms of their potential impact on customer experience, as well as the extent to which their implementation involves significant business process reconfigurations that are hard to imitate by competitors. Research limitations/implications – With regard to limitations, this research is based on an in-depth study of a single case of biometrics implementation. More cases need to be examined to enhance the validity of the findings. Research implications relate to evaluation of new technologies from the perspective of achieving competitive advantage, outline of dimensions of strategic alignment, and discussion of competencies and processes fostering strategic innovation. Practical implications – The findings provide a new framework for evaluating innovative technologies in terms of their potential for enabling an integrative strategy of differentiation and cost leadership; highlight the importance of strategic alignment; and outline competencies fostering strategic innovation. Originality/value – This paper is one of the first exploring the role of biometric technologies in service delivery; addresses the strategic implications of implementation; and concludes in terms of broader strategic principles.
Purpose – Given the dramatic technology‐led changes that continue to take place in the marketplace, researchers and practitioners alike are keen to understand the emergence and implications of online brand communities (OBCs). The purpose of this paper is to explore OBCs from both consumer and company perspectives. Design/methodology/approach – The study provides a synthesis of the extant OBC literature to further our understanding of OBCs, and also puts forth future priorities for OBC research. Findings – A conceptual framework is provided that extends our understanding of OBCs and consumer engagement. Four key OBC dimensions (brand orientation, internet‐use, funding and governance) are identified and three antecedents (brand‐related, social and functional) are proposed of consumer‐OBC engagement. Originality/value – This study is the first to explore key dimensions of OBCs, and the differing but related perspectives of the consumers and organizations involved.
The top management at Aarion Bank was pushing for a rapid digital transformation. That included customer service with the aim of moving almost all routine transactions, services, and enquiries to cost-effective but high quality, cutting-edge digital delivery channels. These included smart AI-powered self-service technologies and service robots. Nikita Jones, the Vice President of Customer Service, was worried about how some customer segments would respond to this strategic direction the bank was to embark upon and how she could prepare her team and its various customer segments for this digital transformation.
The general view is that platforms are somehow in the-winner-takes-it-all markets and therefore justify enormous valuations, especially when compared with their pipeline counterparts. However, to continue its fast growth, Airbnb diverted from its pure peer-to-peer (P2P) strategy and has been adding owned room capacity. At the same time, Marriott added P2P platform-sourced rooms to its marketing and distribution channels. The question senior management of both companies needs to address is what it takes for them to be successful in each other's turfs.
The sharing economy is an omnipresent topic, not just in academia but throughout public discourses. Key questions thus have been approached from various research perspectives. To gain a comprehensive view of these perspectives, this commentary features contributions from a group of respected scholars, sharing their research findings, personal observations, and informed interpretations of the sharing economy. Their individual commentaries reflect unique theoretical perspectives, and they include discussions of why the sharing economy makes service management research more relevant, implications for companies and consumers, and key research needs.
Un guide pragmatique et orienté vers l’action pour transformer les organisations avec l’hyper-automatisation. Une réflexion sur l’impact de l’automatisation et de l’intelligence artificielle sur le travail, la société et sur notre monde. Available on Amazon @ https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B08QRZ7N5Z
Accepted for publication in The European Business Review in a Special Issue organized by the Centre on AI Technology for Humankind, National University of Singapore. Suggested citation: Jochen Wirtz, Werner Kunz and Stefanie Paluch (2021), “The Service Revolution, Intelligent Automation and Service Robots,” The European Business Review, forthcoming.
The rapid advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) offers exciting opportunities for marketing practice and academic research. In this study, through the application of natural language processing, machine learning, and statistical algorithms, we examine the dominant topics, diversity, time slicing, and dynamics of the extant literature and map the current knowledge base in this area. We identify and analyze ten salient research themes: (1) understanding consumer sentiments, (2) industrial opportunities of AI, (3) analyzing customer satisfaction, (4) electronic word-of-mouth-based insights, (5) improving market performance, (6) using AI for brand management, (7) measuring and enhancing customer loyalty and trust, (8) AI and novel services, (9) using AI to improve customer relationships, and (10) AI and strategic marketing. Our scientometric analyses reveal the key concepts, keyword co-occurrence, authorship networks, top research themes, landmark publications, and the evolution of the research field over time. Finally, we propose an agenda for future research.
Due to rapid developments of service robots, artificial intelligence and other new technologies (including big data, analytics, speech recognition, biometrics, mobile and cloud technologies, and geo-tagging) the service sector is facing a new wave of digitalization, including at the customer interface. Service robots, defined as system-based autonomous and adaptable interfaces that interact, communicate and deliver service to an organization’s customers (Wirtz et al. 2018), will bring opportunities for a wide range of service innovations that will dramatically impact the customer experience, service quality, and productivity all at the same time (e.g., many hotel, restaurant and hair stylist services are likely to be robot-delivered in the future), lower cost will make high-end services available to the broad consumer base (e.g., personal concierge services, image consulting, and high-end personal tuition), while potentially offering new services we have not thought of yet (Wirtz and Lovelock 2016).
This is the first book on Intelligent Automation (IA). Also called Hyperautomation, it is one of the most recent trends in the broad field of artificial intelligence. IA is a cutting-edge combination of methods and technologies, involving people, organizations, machine learning, low-code platforms, robotic process automation (RPA), and more. ------- Key content of the book: What is Intelligent Automation (IA)? Why has the use of IA been expanding so rapidly? What are the benefits it unleashes for employees, companies, customers, and society? How have leading organizations been able to harness the full potential of IA, at scale, and generate massive efficiency gains in the range of 20 to 60%? ------- What you will get from this book: Get the lessons learned from 100+ IA transformation successes (and failures). Benefit from the largest publicly available library of 500+ IA use cases by industry and by business function. Gain access to insights garnered from 200+ IA industry experts. ------- Read more about this first book on Intelligent Automation: www.intelligentautomationbook.com.
Master Class - Service Robots & AI. The service sector is at an inflection point with regard to productivity gains and service industrialization - robotics in combination with rapidly improving technologies will bring opportunities for a wide range of innovations that have the potential to dramatically change service industries. This Master Class (video 25 min) summarizes the role service robots & AI will play in the future.
Master Class on Platform Business Models. This 20-minute video discusses the competitive position and expected future development of sharing economy platforms and platform business models in general. The PPT deck and links to the underlying research are provided.
Digital Business Platforms (DBPs) such as eBay, Google, and Uber have seen enormous growth in recent years. What exactly are the salient characteristics of this new way of structuring a business? What is the role of marketing in helping DBPs succeed? What are the important research topics in this domain for theory and practice? We explore these topics in this paper. We develop a new conceptual framework based on the insights from Transactions Cost Analysis (TCA) to outline the role and impact of marketing in DBPs. We argue that the primary role of marketing is to increase the number and quality of interactions that take place on a DBP, while also helping to reduce transaction costs for users and the production costs for the DPB. The interactions that are enabled by DBPs and the resulting data generated are the key enablers of value creation and value appropriation on these platforms. But DBPs also introduce several challenges for both value creation and value appropriation because they cater to the needs of many different types of users that are on the platform. As a result, DBPs need to carefully coordinate and manage the interactions between users on different sides of a platform. We also need to re-conceptualize some of the traditional roles of marketing in the context of DBPs, which we discuss in this paper.
Purpose This article examines the new phenomenon of the convergence of platform and pipeline business models. It examines the potential synergies and challenges for platforms to add pipeline components and vice versa for pipeline businesses. Design/methodology/approach This paper uses a conceptual approach that synthesizes and integrates the literature from service, hospitality, and strategy, and supplements them with two illustrative mini-case studies. Findings While the extant literature typically focuses on the dichotomy between incumbent pipeline businesses that create value by controlling a linear series of activities and network effects-driven platforms, we differentiate between two types of platform business models (i.e. platforms with asset control and platforms with peer-provided assets). Further, we identify three common pathways of convergence; that is, pipelines moving towards (1) platforms with asset control and (2) those with peer-provided assets, and (3) platforms with peer-provided assets adopting defining business characteristics of pipelines. Furthermore, we contrast key characteristics of the three business models and examine potential synergies and challenges for business model convergence. Our findings suggest that convergence from pipelines to platforms with asset control seems to be a natural extension that offers many potential synergies and relatively minor challenges. In contrast, convergence from pipelines to platforms with peer-provided assets is likely to encounter more serious challenges and few synergies. Finally, the synergies and challenges of convergence from platforms with peer-provided assets to pipelines seem to be in between the other two in terms of synergies and challenges. Practical implications This article helps managers think through key considerations regarding potential synergies to develop and challenges to mitigate for embarking on convergence strategies between pipeline and platform business models. Originality/value This article is the first in the service, business model and strategy literature to identify, define, and conceptualize business model convergence between platforms with asset control, those with peer-provided assets and pipeline businesses. It is also the first to examine potential synergies and challenges these different paths of business model convergence may entail.
This special issue on AI and robots in service interactions of the Journal of Service Management Research aims to contribute and elaborated our understanding of the new challenges organizations, employees and customers face due to the infusion of service robot- and AI-facilitated and automated interactions in the service encounter. For service organizations, it is essential to recognize and evaluate service robots’ potential not only for their own organizational success, but also for the well-being of their employees and acceptance, and the quality perception and satisfaction of their customers. We will start with a short introduction into service robots and AI before we introduce the four papers of this special issue. We use the topics of these papers as a starting point and discuss implications for future research in this emerging field.
Purpose Robots are predicted to have a profound impact on the service sector. The emergence of robots has attracted increasing interest from business scholars and practitioners alike. In this article, we undertake a systematic review of the business literature about the impact of service robots on customers and employees with the objective of guiding future research. Design/methodology/approach We analyzed the literature on service robots as they relate to customers and employees in business journals listed in the Financial Times top 50 journals plus all journals covered in the cross-disciplinary SERVSIG literature alerts. Findings The analysis of the identified studies yielded multiple observations about the impact of service robots on customers (e.g. overarching frameworks on acceptance and usage of service robots; characteristics of service robots and anthropomorphism; and potential for enhanced and deteriorated service experiences) and service employees (e.g. employee benefits such as reduced routine work, enhanced productivity and job satisfaction; potential negative consequences such as loss of autonomy and a range of negative psychological outcomes; opportunities for human–robot collaboration; job insecurity; and robot-related up-skilling and development requirements). We also conclude that current research on service robots is fragmented, is largely conceptual in nature and focused on the initial adoption stage. We feel that more research is needed to build an overarching theory. In addition, more empirical research is needed, especially on the long(er)-term usage service robots on actual behaviors, the well-being and potential downsides and (ethical) risks for customers and service employees. Research limitations/implications Our review focused on the business and service literature. Future work may want to include additional literature streams, including those in computer science, engineering and information systems. Originality/value This article is the first to synthesize the business and service literature on the impact of service robots on customers and employees.
We believe that our economies are facing a turning point in history similar to the industrial revolution in manufacturing that started in the 18th century. Especially the advent of service robotics (virtual and physical service robots) in combination with these technologies will lead to rapid innovation that has the potential to dramatically improve the customer experience, service quality, and productivity all at the same time. Service Robots are on the rise and alter the organizational frontline. Based on the Service Robot Deployment Model (SRD), we support managers in their choice decisions concerning which services and tasks robots are suitable to fulfill, and how they need to be designed so that customers are willing to engage in interactions. Furthermore, this article discusses several implications of service robots for the field of service management and marketing.
Purpose – This paper advances the current understanding of social media (SM) brand engagement. Specifically, it validates the dimensionality of SM brand engagement, examines its drivers, and explores the impact of SM brand engagement on brand equity. Methodology – A survey was conducted with 433 Generation Y (Gen Y) SM users. Findings – Our results validate SM brand engagement as a multidimensional construct comprising (a) utilitarian, (b) hedonic, and (c) social dimensions. Three categories of SM engagement antecedents were identified: (a) social factors (social identity and tie-strength), (b) user-based factors (service, product and price information, hedonic motives, and prior experience with SM), and (c) firm-generated information (personalized advertising, mass advertising, promotional offers, and price information). Finally, SM brand engagement was positively related to brand equity. Research Limitations and Future Research – Our study focused on Gen Y SM users in India. Our study should be replicated in other contexts to establish the generalizability of our findings. Practical Implication – A better understanding of the dimensionality and drivers of SM brand engagement can help managers to enhance their SM strategies to build brand equity. Originality – This is the first study to provide a comprehensive examination of the dimensions, drivers, and consequences of SM brand engagement. Keywords: Social media, social media engagement, brand engagement, brand equity, Gen Y. Paper type: Research paper
We propose that digital technologies and related data become increasingly prevalent and that, consequently, ethical concerns arise. Looking at four principal stakeholders, we propose corporate digital responsibility (CDR) as a novel concept. Specifically, we define CDR as the set of shared values and norms guiding an organization's operations with respect to the four main processes related to digital technology and data. These processes are the 1) creation of technology and data capture, (2) operation and decision making, (3) inspection and impact assessment, and (4) refinement of technology and data. On this basis, we expand our discussion of CDR by highlighting how to managerially effectuate CDR compliant behavior based on an organizational culture perspective. Our proposed conceptualization of CDR unlocks future research opportunities related to refining and expanding the concept, especially regarding pertinent antecedents and consequences. Managerially, we shed first light on how an organization's shared values and norms regarding CDR can get translated into actionable guidelines for users. This provides grounds for future discussions related to CDR readiness, implementation, and success.
Service excellence and cost-effectiveness are perceived to be in conflict, yet there are organizations that achieve both. Organizations that successfully pursue a dual strategy have been shown to outperform their peers. Competitive pressures will make it critical to take the management of such contradictions and paradoxes seriously. This article shows that the successful management of service excellence and cost-effectiveness does not have to be a conflict in objectives as a dual focus can be achieved by firms that master ambidexterity.
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine peer-to-peer sharing platform business models, their sources of competitive advantage, and the roles, motivations and behaviors of key actors in their ecosystems. Design/methodology/approach This paper uses a conceptual approach that is rooted in the service, tourism and hospitality, and strategy literature. Findings First, this paper defines key types of platform business models in the sharing economy anddescribes their characteristics. In particular, the authors propose the differentiation between sharing platforms of capacity-constrained vs capacity-unconstrained assets and advance five core properties of the former. Second, the authors contrast platform business models with their pipeline business model counterparts to understand the fundamental differences between them. One important conclusion is that platforms cater to vastly more heterogeneous assets and consumer needs and, therefore, require liquidity and analytics for high-quality matching. Third, the authors examine the competitive position of platforms and conclude that their widely taken “winner takes it all” assumption is not valid. Primary network effects are less important once a critical level of liquidity has been reached and may even turn negative if increased listings raise friction in the form of search costs. Once a critical level of liquidity has been reached, a platform’s competitive position depends on stakeholder trust and service provider and user loyalty. Fourth, the authors integrate and synthesize the literature on key platform stakeholders of platform businesses (i.e. users, service providers, and regulators) and their roles and motivations. Finally, directions for further research are advanced. Practical implications This paper helps platform owners, service providers and users understand better the implications of sharing platform business models and how to position themselves in such ecosystems. Originality/value This paper integrates the extant literature on sharing platforms, takes a novel approach in delineating their key properties and dimensions, and provides insights into the evolving and dynamic forms of sharing platforms including converging business models.
The full paper can be downloaded from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326623268_Brave_New_World_Service_Robots_in_the_Frontline Purpose – The service sector is at an inflection point with regard to productivity gains and service industrialization similar to the industrial revolution in manufacturing that started in the eighteenth century. Robotics in combination with rapidly improving technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), mobile, cloud, big data and biometrics will bring opportunities for a wide range of innovations that have the potential to dramatically change service industries. The purpose of this paper is to explore the potential role service robots will play in the future and to advance a research agenda for service researchers. Design/methodology/approach – This paper uses a conceptual approach that is rooted in the service, robotics and AI literature. Findings – The contribution of this paper is threefold. First, it provides a definition of service robots, describes their key attributes, contrasts their features and capabilities with those of frontline employees, and provides an understanding for which types of service tasks robots will dominate and where humans will dominate. Second, this paper examines consumer perceptions, beliefs and behaviors as related to service robots, and advances the service robot acceptance model. Third, it provides an overview of the ethical questions surrounding robot-delivered services at the individual, market and societal level. Practical implications – This paper helps service organizations and their management, service robot innovators, programmers and developers, and policymakers better understand the implications of a ubiquitous deployment of service robots. Originality/value – This is the first conceptual paper that systematically examines key dimensions of robot-delivered frontline service and explores how these will differ in the future. Keywords Consumer behaviour, Ethics, Artificial intelligence, Privacy, Service robots, Markets Paper type Conceptual paper
>>> Purpose – The service sector is at an inflection point with regard to productivity gains and service industrialization similar to the industrial revolution in manufacturing that started in the 18th century. Robotics in combination with rapidly improving technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), mobile, cloud, big data and biometrics will bring opportunities for a wide range of innovations that have the potential to dramatically change service industries. This conceptual paper explores the potential role service robots will play in the future and advances a research agenda for service researchers. >>> Design/methodology/approach – This paper uses a conceptual approach that is rooted in the service, robotics, and AI literature. >>> Findings – The contribution of this article is threefold. First, it provides a definition of service robots, describes their key attributes, contrasts their features and capabilities with those of frontline employees, and provides an understanding for which types of service tasks robots will dominate and where humans will dominate. Second, this article examines consumer perceptions, beliefs and behaviors as related to service robots, and advances the service robot acceptance model (sRAM). Third, it provides an overview of the ethical questions surrounding robot-delivered services at the individual, market and societal level. >>> Practical implications – This article helps service organizations and their management, service robot innovators, programmers and developers, and policymakers better understand the implications of a ubiquitous deployment of service robots. >>> Originality/value – This is the first conceptual article that systematically examines key dimensions of robot-delivered frontline service and explores how these will differ in the future.