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The effect of the Internet on front-line employee skills: Exploring banking in Sweden and France

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Abstract

This paper aims to explore (1) the Internet effects on the nature of the face-to-face service encounter and (2) what demands this introduces on front-line service employee skills in a banking context. The paper draws on empirical data generated from two banks in Sweden and France, where in-depth interviews with 21 managers have been carried out. The paper argues that in light of the Internet, the face-to-face service encounter is becoming increasingly interactive and customized, where much attention is paid towards building and maintaining relationships with customers, providing advice and support in customer's decision making, and also, learning from and acquiring qualitative information about the customer. This up-scaling of the face-to-face service encounter entails an increase in job complexity and task discretion, involving demands for high-level skills such as information provisioning and evaluation, and emotional skills such as empathy, interpretive skills, conversational skills, and management of body language.

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Purpose – The current exploratory study is an attempt to discover the underlying areas of dissatisfaction associated with the banking experience in the UK, particularly as it relates to the implementation of new service delivery technology in the banking industry. Design/methodology/approach – The data for this study was collected in two stages. In stage one, three focus groups were conducted using bank customers from the southern part of the USA to generate items important to users of financial services in the USA. These items were then considered by a number of bank customers in the UK (Bristol and Bournemouth area) to insure equivalence of constructs and measurements. Stage two involved distributing 300 surveys to a convenience sample of electronic banking customers from the sampling area of interest in the UK. In order to qualify, respondents had to have used one of the available electronic banking services offered by the bank at least once during the previous month. Findings – The importance-performance grid demonstrates that two of the factors and their underlying attributes fall into the “Keep up the good work” quadrant and the other two factors fall into the “Low priority” quadrant. The first two are areas the organization needs to allocate resources in order to maintain the level of service they provide their clients. From a strategic point of view, this grid provides a tool for strategy development as it gives a clear picture of the factors that are critical for resource allocation. Research limitations/implications – The primary limitation of this study is the scope and size of its sample. Nonetheless, the study does provide evidence for the development and use of the I-P grid for preliminary identification and assessment of customer measures of service quality. Originality/value – By demonstrating the feasibility of the approach taken by the study, it should be possible for financial institutions to utilize similar procedures when evaluating the overall satisfaction levels of their customers’ banking experience. It also allows service providers to consider the changing needs and wants of customers’ in the financial sector.
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The authors propose that adaptive selling is influenced by salespeople's knowledge of customer types and sales strategies as well as their motivation to alter the direction of their behavior. Pertinent research in psychology and personal selling is reviewed and specific propositions relating to knowledge, motivation, and adaptive behavior are advanced. On the basis of these propositions, suggestions are made for selecting, training, managing, and compensating salespeople.
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The Weitz (1981) model of adaptive selling suggests that situational variables will moderate the relationship between adaptive selling behavior and sales performance. In this paper, a path model is analyzed and supports the positive role of adaptive selling on sales performance under “adaptive” conditions. Surprisingly, there is also a positive relationship in the “nonadaptive” condition. Furthermore, salesperson characteristics such as the ability to monitor the selling situation and modify self-behaviors and strategies within the exchange setting are determined to be related to the intention to sell adaptively in the “adaptive” conditions. Finally, results of this study suggest that selling experience affects sales performance in both “adaptive” and “nonadaptive” situational contexts, but the sources of effects differ.
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At work and at home, individuals meet role demands to deal with others' emotions, provide support, and build cooperative and positive social relationships. These emotional role demands are distinguished from social support or personality and conceived of as a form of work. A measure of emotional work (IEW) was developed and validated in two studies (n = 448 and n= 261). The measure assesses frequency of behaviours performed to engender positive emotions and emotional wellbeing in others, as well as to build positive interpersonal relationships. Furthermore, the IEW can assess multiple role performance of emotional work. The present research showed stability of structure and internal consistency across six work and family roles (service work, managerial, workmate, spouse, parent, extended family, and friendship). When both work and family roles were considered together, it was evident that some individuals (particularly women) perform far more emotional work than others.
Models link between employees’ behavior and short- and long-term customer perceptions. Subjects were confronted with five different video taped non-routine service encounters (study 1) and eight manipulated routine service encounters (study 2). In study 1, two judges encoded behavior of service employees. With three types of behavior it was possible to explain customers’ feelings of warmth. Warmth also correlated with measures such as likeability, perceived quality and service loyalty. Study 2 used a hotel reception as a setting, and service quality was manipulated in eight different ways. Warmth correlated highly with post-experience measures, had a dual impact on customer loyalty and increased intention to stay and willingness to pay more for the same service. Service firms should train employees to deal with emotions and to learn empathic behaviors.
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The study investigates the roles and capabilities likely to be required of customer service professionals (CSPs) in future service encounters. Following a literature review and the results from customer focus groups, a matrix for future customer service roles is developed in which the domains of technical interaction and emotional interaction are displayed. The matrix is tested against interview data from executives in leading service organisations and four key CSP roles are developed, corresponding to the customer service domains displayed in the matrix. The study concludes with a discussion of these four roles and the management implications of the study.
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This paper describes the process of inducting theory using case studies-from specifying the research questions to reaching closure. Some features of the process, such as problem definition and construct validation, are similar to hypothesis-testing research. Others, such as within-case analysis and replication logic, are unique to the inductive, case-oriented process. Overall, the process described here is highly iterative and tightly linked to data. This research approach is especially appropriate in new topic areas. The resultant theory is often novel, testable, and empirically valid. Finally, framebreaking insights, the tests of good theory (e.g., parsimony, logical coherence), and convincing grounding in the evidence are the key criteria for evaluating this type of research.
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The concept of the service encounter represents the process of interaction between the consumer and the service provider, which, results in the actual delivery of the service. In this it is the point at which the consumer can evaluate the service offering (John 1996). It is thus as much concerned with marketing as it is with the actual delivery of the service. Central to such marketing activity are those technical staff responsible for the delivery of the service, the so-called part-time marketers (Groumlnroos 1994). Focusing on the health sector in the United Kingdom, this paper examines the attitudes and behaviours of those professional staff responsible for service delivery towards embracing such a marketing role. The data suggests that although the majority of such staff has considerable reservations about embracing marketing responsibilities, these reservations reflect concerns over professional autonomy and language rather than any deep-seated antipathy towards the core concepts of marketing.
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L'article étudie le développement des compétences des clients liées à la consultation des sites Inter-net et examine son incidence sur les compétences des chargés de clientèle (CC) en face à face. Une attention particulière est portée à l'utilisation des progiciels par le CC durant la relation clientèle. Plusieurs moyens méthodologiques ont été mobilisés : une étude des sites, un questionnaire en ligne, une analyse fonctionnelle des progiciels, des observations en présence du client et du CC. Les principaux résultats montrent que la consultation des sites bancaires permet à la clientèle de développer des compétences bancaires ; les CC tiennent compte de cette compétence clientèle pour gérer leur relation en présence des clients ; les CC mobilisent leurs compétences en fonction des compétences détenues par le client pour rendre le service attendu. Dans ce contexte, la complexité du dossier présenté par le client devient secondaire dans la mobilisation des compétences du CC et les applicatifs bancaires à la disposition du CC sont utilisés en rapport avec le profil des compétences du client.
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This paper considers the impact of the Internet on professional services, which are characterised by high levels of interpersonal interaction and where a significant component of the service product is information and expertise. For such services the Internet is primarily an accessible information resource, which has potential to fundamentally change the way in which consumers interact with service providers. The context for the research is healthcare, a professional service that has traditionally been characterised by an information asymmetry that has rested power in the hands of the professional. Based on interviews with healthcare professionals, Web site hosts and consumers, this paper considers the way in which consumers use the Internet to educate themselves about their condition and the consequent effect on the service encounter and the doctor/patient relationship. The findings indicate that patients are increasingly engaging in virtual, parallel service encounters that change the nature of the primary encounter and present challenges to professionals both in terms of relationships and their professional judgement.
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Full-text of this article is not available in this e-prints service. This article was originally published [following peer-review] in Management Decision, published by and copyright Emerald Group Publishing Ltd. Consumers in a wide range of contexts whether purchasing goods or services are increasingly using technology. The role of people in the delivery of services is diminishing as companies strive to lower costs and consumers become less inclined to wait or queue. Through a number of case studies, the impact of technology in the provision of services is scrutinised and the common characteristics of the service experience in such applications are identified. As customers become more proficient at taking on an IT role, traditional models of the service experience may need to be revisited. Specifically, models will need to reflect a greater participation by the customer, a diminishing role for service personnel, and the blurring of the back and front office divide.
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The impact of the Internet and the World Wide Web in distribution channels is discussed. Not only will it modify many of the assumptions on which distribution channel structure is based, in many cases, it will transform and even obliterate channels themselves. As a result, many intermediaries will die out, while new channels and new intermediaries will take their places.
  • Korczynski M.
Groupe de prospective vision Paris-Caen. La prospective des metiers appliqué à l'entreprise. L'impact des ntic sur les métiers et les compétences. Du secteur bancaire et financier. Colloque du groupe de prospective
  • Lelarge