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Virtual agents (VAs) are used increasingly as representatives of the firm in retail and service settings – particularly in online environments. Existing studies indicate that the customer’s experience is enhanced if VAs resemble humans, which seems to imply that what has been learned over the years in research about the influence of the human employee’s behavior on customer satisfaction may be applicable also to VA behavior. This study explores one factor, effort, which has a positive impact on customer satisfaction when it characterizes the human employee in service encounters. Although a VA (i.e., a computer program) cannot experience effort, it was assumed that human sensitivity to other humans’ effort, and a tendency to anthropomorphize non-human agents, would make human customers susceptible to effort-expending signals when they interact with a VA. To examine this assumption, data were collected from customers who had been interacting with existing VAs. The results indicate that three specific behaviors (engaging in personal conversation, listening, and display of warmth) boost the customer’s perceptions of VA effort, and that perceived VA effort has a positive impact on customer satisfaction.
Artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbots are changing the nature of service interfaces from being human-driven to technology-dominant. As a result, customers are expected to resolve issues themselves before reaching out to customer service representatives, ultimately becoming a central element of service production as co-creators of value. However, AI-powered interactions can also fail, potentially leading to anger, confusion, and customer dissatisfaction. We draw on the value co-creation literature to investigate the process of co-destruction in AI-powered service interactions. We adopt an exploratory approach based on in-depth interviews with 27 customers who have interacted with AI-powered chatbots in customer service settings. We find five antecedents of failed interactions between customers and chatbots: authenticity issues, cognition challenges, affective issues, functionality issues, and integration conflicts. We observe that although customers do accept part of the responsibility for co-destruction, they largely attribute the problems they experience to resource misintegration by service providers. Our findings contribute a better understanding of value co-destruction in AI-powered service settings and provide a richer conceptualization of the link between customer resource loss, attributions of resource loss, and subsequent customer coping strategies. Our findings also offer service managers insights into how to avoid and mitigate value co-destruction in AI service settings.
Estimating invested effort is a core dimension for evaluating own and others’ actions, and views on the relationship between effort and rewards are deeply ingrained in various societal attitudes. Internal representations of effort, however, are inherently noisy, e.g. due to the variability of sensorimotor and visceral responses to physical exertion. The uncertainty in effort judgments is further aggravated when there is no direct access to the internal representations of exertion – such as when estimating the effort of another person. Bayesian cue integration suggests that this uncertainty can be resolved by incorporating additional cues that are predictive of effort, e.g. received rewards. We hypothesized that judgments about the effort spent on a task will be influenced by the magnitude of received rewards. Additionally, we surmised that such influence might further depend on individual beliefs regarding the relationship between hard work and prosperity, as exemplified by a conservative work ethic. To test these predictions, participants performed an effortful task interleaved with a partner and were informed about the obtained reward before rating either their own or the partner’s effort. We show that higher rewards led to higher estimations of exerted effort in self-judgments, and this effect was even more pronounced for other-judgments. In both types of judgment, computational modelling revealed that reward information and sensorimotor markers of exertion were combined in a Bayes-optimal manner in order to reduce uncertainty. Remarkably, the extent to which rewards influenced effort judgments was associated with conservative world-views, indicating links between this phenomenon and general beliefs about the relationship between effort and earnings in society.
In this paper, we propose a novel method for human–robot collaboration, where the robot physical behaviour is adapted online to the human motor fatigue. The robot starts as a follower and imitates the human. As the collaborative task is performed under the human lead, the robot gradually learns the parameters and trajectories related to the task execution. In the meantime, the robot monitors the human fatigue during the task production. When a predefined level of fatigue is indicated, the robot uses the learnt skill to take over physically demanding aspects of the task and lets the human recover some of the strength. The human remains present to perform aspects of collaborative task that the robot cannot fully take over and maintains the overall supervision. The robot adaptation system is based on the Dynamical Movement Primitives, Locally Weighted Regression and Adaptive Frequency Oscillators. The estimation of the human motor fatigue is carried out using a proposed online model, which is based on the human muscle activity measured by the electromyography. We demonstrate the proposed approach with experiments on real-world co-manipulation tasks: material sawing and surface polishing.
The idea of interacting with computers through natural language dates back to the 1960s, but recent technological advances have led to a renewed interest in conversational agents such as chatbots or digital assistants. In the customer service context, conversational agents promise to create a fast, convenient, and cost-effective channel for communicating with customers. Although numerous agents have been implemented in the past, most of them could not meet the expectations and disappeared. In this paper, we present our design science research project on how to design cooperative and social conversational agents to increase service quality in customer service. We discuss several issues that hinder the success of current conversational agents in customer service. Drawing on the cooperative principle of conversation and social response theory, we propose preliminary meta-requirements and design principles for cooperative and social conversational agents. Next, we will develop a prototype based on these design principles.
Purpose – Indirect or mediated effects constitute a type of relationship between constructs that often occurs in partial least squares path modeling (PLS). Over the past few years, the methods for testing mediation have become more sophisticated. However, many researchers continue to use outdated methods to test mediating effects in PLS, which can lead to erroneous results. One reason for the use of outdated methods or even the lack of their use altogether is that no systematic tutorials on PLS exist that draw on the newest statistical findings.
Design/methodology/approach – This study illustrates the state-of-the-art use of mediation analysis in the context of PLS.
Findings – This study facilitates the adoption of modern procedures in PLS by challenging the conventional approach to mediation analysis and providing alternatives that are more accurate. In addition, we propose a decision tree and classification of mediating effects.
Originality/value – Our recommended approach offers a wide range of testing options (e.g., multiple mediators) that go beyond simple mediation analysis alternatives, helping researchers discuss their studies in a more accurate way.
Historically, firms have dedicated an abundance of resources in the pursuit of customer satisfaction and its corresponding favorable consequences. However, research indicates that customer satisfaction may not necessarily result in the outcomes pursued. This paper aims to focus on the concept of customer delight and explore antecedents and consequences of interest to the service firm. More specifically, the proposed model explores the linkages of employee effort, employee expertise and the firm’s tangibles to customer surprise and joy which in turn lead to customer delight and per cent of budget spent.
Data were collected from a grocery store. The hypothesized relationships were tested using structural equation modeling.
Results from this study yield new insights into the dual pathways leading to customer delight through joy and surprise. That is, joy and tangibles lead to both joy and surprise, whereas expertise leads to joy alone. Both joy and surprise are completely mediated through delight to per cent of budget spent. Interestingly, higher frequency customers experience a stronger relationship from joy to delight.
The findings have implications for the ongoing debate on the viability of customer delight and extending the theoretical understanding of why customer delight represents such a powerful force in the service environment.
By providing specific variables that impact both joy and surprise, management can develop tactics to develop delight initiatives.
This is the first study proposing multiple paths to customer delight. Further, this is the first study to link needs based and disconfirmation into a single model.
Ascribing mental states to non-human agents has been shown to increase their likeability and lead to better joint-task performance in human-robot interaction (HRI). However, it is currently unclear what physical features non-human agents need to possess in order to trigger mind attribution and whether different aspects of having a mind (e.g., feeling pain, being able to move) need different levels of human-likeness before they are readily ascribed to non-human agents. The current study addresses this issue by modeling how increasing the degree of human-like appearance (on a spectrum from mechanistic to humanoid to human) changes the likelihood by which mind is attributed towards non-human agents. We also test whether different internal states (e.g., being hungry, being alive) need different degrees of humanness before they are ascribed to non-human agents. The results suggest that the relationship between physical appearance and the degree to which mind is attributed to non-human agents is best described as a two-linear model with no change in mind attribution on the spectrum from mechanistic to humanoid robot, but a significant increase in mind attribution as soon as human features are included in the image. There seems to be a qualitative difference in the perception of mindful versus mindless agents given that increasing human-like appearance alone does not increase mind attribution until a certain threshold is reached, that is: agents need to be classified as having a mind first before the addition of more human-like features significantly increases the degree to which mind is attributed to that agent.
The purpose of this research was to develop and validate a measure of the degree to which salespeople practice effective listening. After defming and discussing the construct, the development of a paper-and-pencil self-report measure of interpersonal listening in the personal selling context (lLPS) is described. Following the procedure used by Spiro and Weitz (1990), the validity of the measure was assessed via a mail questionnaire with a sample of 604 salespeople from a variety of firms and industries. Both performance and sales experience were significantly correlated with the ILPS scale. There were no significant relationships between ILPS and gender, age, or industry type. The 14-item ILPS scale that emerged from the purification process was shown to have acceptable reliability estimates, as well as evidence of face, convergent, and nomological validity. Managerial implications and directions for future research are presented.
This study fills an important gap in the literature by developing a conceptual model that links salesperson empathy and listening skills to three outcome variables. Responses from a mail survey of 162 buyers from a variety of business organizations were used to test this model using structural equation modeling. The model has an excellent fit (χ 2 = 1.511, GFI = 0.99, AGFI = 0.94), and indicates a strong positive relationship between empathy and the following: salesperson listening, trust in the salesperson, and satisfaction with the salesperson. Also, listening is positively related to buyer's trust in and satisfaction with the salesperson, but not with future interaction expectations. Trust in and satisfaction with the salesperson were positively related to future interaction expectations.
Humans readily attribute intentionality and mental states to living and nonliving entities, a phenomenon known as anthropomorphism. Recent efforts to understand the driving forces behind anthropomorphism have focused on its motivational underpinnings. By contrast, the underlying cognitive and neu-ropsychological processes have not been considered in detail so far. The marked increase in interest in anthropomorphism and its consequences for animal welfare, conservation and even as a potential constraint in animal behaviour research call for an integrative review. We identify a set of potential cognitive mechanisms underlying the attribution of mental states to nonhuman animals using a dual process framework. We propose that mental state attributions are supported by processes evolved in the social domain, such as motor matching mechanisms and empathy, as well as by domain-general mechanisms such as inductive and causal reasoning. We conclude that the activation of these domain-specific and domain-general mechanisms depend on the type of information available to the observer, and suggest a series of hypotheses for testing the proposed model.
It is not just a manner of speaking: “Mind reading,” or working out what others are thinking and feeling, is markedly similar
to print reading. Both of these distinctly human skills recover meaning from signs, depend on dedicated cortical areas, are
subject to genetically heritable disorders, show cultural variation around a universal core, and regulate how people behave.
But when it comes to development, the evidence is conflicting. Some studies show that, like learning to read print, learning
to read minds is a long, hard process that depends on tuition. Others indicate that even very young, nonliterate infants are
already capable of mind reading. Here, we propose a resolution to this conflict. We suggest that infants are equipped with
neurocognitive mechanisms that yield accurate expectations about behavior (“automatic” or “implicit” mind reading), whereas
“explicit” mind reading, like literacy, is a culturally inherited skill; it is passed from one generation to the next by verbal
Although widely recognized as essential to success, little research has focused on effective listening skills in the personal selling context. This paper reviews effective listening as seen in existing sales and communication literature. Further, it presents both a cognitive process model of the interpersonal listening process and a model that explicates the relationship between listening, adaptive selling and sales performance. In addition, a series of research priorities and research propositions are presented to stimulate future research.
Many researchers feel that external validity must be emphasized even in theoretical research. The argument for both a sophisticated and a common sense version of this contention is refuted in this paper. It is concluded that the very nature of progress in theoretical research argues against attempting to maximize external validity in the context of any single study.
Human beings have a sophisticated ability to reason about the minds of others, often referred to as using one's theory of mind or mentalizing. Just like any other cognitive ability, people engage in reasoning about other minds when it seems useful for achieving particular goals, but this ability remains disengaged otherwise. We suggest that understanding the factors that engage our ability to reason about the minds of others helps to explain anthropomorphism: cases in which people attribute minds to a wide range of nonhuman agents, including animals, mechanical and technological objects, and supernatural entities such as God. We suggest that engagement is guided by two basic motivations: (1) the motivation to explain and predict others' actions, and (2) the motivation to connect socially with others. When present, these motivational forces can lead people to attribute minds to almost any agent. When absent, the likelihood of attributing a mind to others, even other human beings, decreases. We suggest that understanding the factors that engage our theory of mind can help to explain the inverse process of dehumanization, and also why people might be indifferent to other people even when connecting to them would improve their momentary wellbeing.
In this article we argue that social discourse can affect the structure and content of autobiographical memory. In making this argument, we review literature documenting the impact of social factors, including culture, social roles, and social disclosure frequency, on aspects of autobiographical memory. We also describe several social norms that govern social discourse and speculate about the effect that such norms might have on autobiographical memory. In addition, we review the mental structures and processes that might serve to mediate the relation between social discourse and autobiographical memory and offer suggestions about how both social and cognitive factors might be integrated into a common model accounting for autobiographical memory.
Firms have begun to introduce virtual agents (VAs) in service encounters, both in online and offline environments. Such VAs typically resemble human frontline employees in several ways (e.g. the VAs may have a gender and a name), which indicates the presence of an assumption by VA designers – and by firms that employ them – that VA humanness is a positively charged characteristic. This study aims to address this assumption by examining antecedents to perceived humanness in terms of attribution of agency, emotionality and morality, and the impact of perceived humanness on customer satisfaction.
A questionnaire was distributed online to participants who had been interacting with existing VAs, and they were asked to focus on one of them for this study. The questionnaire comprised measures of antecedents to perceived humanness of VAs, perceived humanness per se and customer satisfaction. A structural equation modeling approach was used to assess associations between the variables.
Attributions of agency, emotionality and morality to VAs contributed positively to the perceived humanness of the VAs, and perceived humanness was positively associated with customer satisfaction.
Additional humanness capabilities should be explored in further research.
Firms using VAs in service encounters should make attempts to maximize perceived VA humanness, and this study shows that it may be beneficial if such attempts comprise signals that VAs have agency, emotionality and morality.
By examining VAs in terms of a set of fundamental human capabilities, the present study contributes to existing research on human–VA service encounters, which to date has focused on more superficial VA characteristics (such as if the VA has a face and gender).
As service offerings grow in both range and complexity, how service providers and their customers interact is becoming increasingly important. In response to the challenge of optimizing these interactions, companies have introduced sophisticated online “socialization agents,” whose purpose is to help new customers more effectively adjust to and function within the service environment. The objective of these online agents, or virtual employees, is to help customers evaluate new or unfamiliar service offerings, as well as help companies achieve greater levels of service delivery and financial performance. To investigate this, the authors analyze the process by which online agents help both new and current customers adjust to and function within new, unfamiliar, or complex service contexts. They examine the impact of an online agent on account performance in the banking industry. They find that both interaction style and content of the online agent significantly influence the newcomer adjustment process over time, which in turn influences firm-level performance.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionising the way customers interact with brands. There is a lack of empirical research into AI-enabled customer experiences. Hence, this study aims to analyse how the integration of AI in shopping can lead to an improved AI-enabled customer experience. We propose a theoretical model drawing on the trust-commitment theory and service quality model. An online survey was distributed to customers who have used an AI- enabled service offered by a beauty brand. A total of 434 responses were analysed using partial least squares-structural equation modelling. The findings indicate the significant role of trust and perceived sacrifice as factors mediating the effects of perceived convenience, personalisation and AI-enabled service quality. The findings also reveal the significant effect of relationship commitment on AI-enabled customer experience. This study contributes to the existing literature by revealing the mediating effects of trust and perceived sacrifice and the direct effect of relationship commitment on AI-enabled customer experience. In addition, the study has practical implications for retailers deploying AI in services offered to their customers.
With the advent of increasingly sophisticated AI, the nature of work in the service frontline is changing. The next frontier is to go beyond replacing routine tasks and augmenting service employees with AI. The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether service employees augmented with AI-based emotion recognition software are more effective in interpersonal emotion regulation (IER) and whether and how IER impacts their own affective well-being.
For the underlying study, an AI-based emotion recognition software was developed in order to assist service employees in managing customer emotions. A field study based on 2,459 call center service interactions assessed the effectiveness of the AI in augmenting service employees for IER and the immediate downstream consequences for well-being relevant outcomes.
Augmenting service employees with AI significantly improved their IER activities. Employees in the AI (vs control) condition were significantly more effective in regulating customer emotions. IER goal attainment, in turn, mediated the effect on employee affective well-being. Perceived stress related to exposure to the AI augmentation acted as a competing mediator.
Service firms can benefit from state-of-the-art AI technology by focusing on its capacity to augment rather than merely replacing employees. Furthermore, signaling IER goal attainment with the help of technology may provide uplifting consequences for service employee affective well-being.
The present study is among the first to empirically test the introduction of an AI-fueled technology to augment service employees in handling customer emotions. This paper further complements the literature by investigating IER in a real-life setting and by uncovering goal attainment as a new mechanism underlying the effect of IER on the well-being of the sender.
For brands to thrive, they must understand consumer sentiment; if consumers’ likelihood of sharing their opinion is a function of their attitude toward a brand, then brands’ perception of consumer sentiment may be systematically biased. While research in consumer-to-consumer sharing (i.e., word of mouth) suggests that those with extreme attitude are more likely to share than those with neutral attitude (a U-shaped relationship), the relationship between consumers’ attitude toward a brand and their propensity to share with a brand is unknown. In contrast to the U-shaped pattern observed in word of mouth, the authors find a hockey stick–shaped relationship between attitude and sharing with brands (“__/”). Those with positive attitude (vs. neutral attitude) are more likely to share their opinion, but those with negative attitude do not show a similar increase in sharing. The authors show that this pattern emerges because, among consumers with positive (vs. neutral) attitude toward a brand, reciprocity norms drive increased sharing, but among consumers with negative (vs. neutral) attitude, competing mechanisms drive behavior: the desire to vent increases sharing, but at the same time an aversion to criticize others directly deters sharing. The authors test these ideas using a series of studies, including a field study.
Firms are deploying chatbots to automate customer service. However, miscommunication is a frequent occurrence in human-chatbot interaction. This study investigates the relationship between miscommunication and adoption for customer service chatbots. Anthropomorphism is tested as an account for the relationship. Two experiments compare the perceived humanness and adoption scores for (a) an error-free chatbot, (b) a chatbot seeking clarification regarding a consumer input and (c) a chatbot which fails to discern context. The results suggest that unresolved errors are sufficient to reduce anthropomorphism and adoption intent. However, there is no perceptual difference between an error-free chatbot and one which seeks clarification. The ability to resolve miscommunication (clarification) appears as effective as avoiding it (error-free). Furthermore, the higher a consumer’s need for human interaction, the stronger the anthropomorphism - adoption relationship. Thus, anthropomorphic chatbots may satisfy the social desires of consumers high in need for human interaction.
As artificial intelligence (AI) technologies become more common and capable interaction partners (human-machine communication; HMC), understanding how people perceive and interact with them becomes increasingly important to study. This essay argues that one important avenue for this study is the application of relevant interpersonal and computer-mediated communication (CMC) theories. The paper suggests that these theories are relevant because the Computers as Social Actors (CASA) approach has shown that people tend to respond to technologies as they do to other people. It summarizes some theories that may be especially useful for future study in this field. Finally, a case is made that the study of AI and HMC may also be important for greater understanding of the human-human communication process as well.
Mediation and conditional process analyses have become popular approaches for examining the mechanisms by which effects operate and the factors that influence them. To estimate mediation models, researchers often augment their structural equation modeling (SEM) analyses with additional regression analyses using the PROCESS macro. This duality is surprising considering that research has long acknowledged the limitations of regression analyses when estimating models with latent variables. In this article, we argue that much of the confusion regarding SEM’s efficacy for mediation analyses results from a singular focus on factor-based methods and there is no need for a tandem use of SEM and PROCESS. Specifically, we highlight that composite-based SEM methods overcome the limitations of both regression and factor-based SEM analyses when estimating even highly complex mediation models. We further conclude that composite-based SEM methods such as partial least squares (PLS-SEM) are the preferred and superior approach when estimating mediation and conditional process models, and that the PROCESS approach is not needed when mediation is examined with PLS-SEM.
In the service encounter, the employee must often encourage customer self-disclosure (i.e., revealing of personal information) to be able to match the customer’s needs with what the firm has to offer. This study uses an experimental approach to manipulate employee encouragement of self-disclosure (low vs. high) to explore its impact on the customer. It was found that encouraging self-disclosure enhanced customer perceptions of customization, employee effort, own effort, privacy concerns, and employee humanness, and that these responses influenced customer satisfaction. In addition, because many firms are beginning to replace human employees with various forms of virtual agents (and it has been argued that we humans may find it less threatening to self-disclose to such agents), the identity of the employee (virtual agent vs. human employee) was manipulated, too. The identity factor, however, did not influence customers’ responses.
The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of happiness expressed by service firm employees when they are depicted in marketing communications materials, such as printed ads and videos.
Two experiments were conducted in a fitness service setting, in which employee display of happiness was manipulated (low vs high).
Both experiments showed that expressions of high levels of happiness produced a more positive attitude toward the service employee than expressions of low levels of happiness. Moreover, the impact of the expression of happiness on the evaluation of the employee was mediated by several variables, which suggests that the influence of depicted employees’ emotional expressions can take several routes.
The results imply that service firms should not only be mindful about which specific employee they select for appearing in marketing communications materials, they should also pay attention to the emotional displays of selected employees.
The present study contributes to previous research by assessing a set of potential mediators to explain why displays of happiness influence consumers, and by examining these effects in a marketing communications setting in which the customer is exposed to still images or video-based representations of the employee. The present study also focuses explicitly on happiness rather than on smiles.
The capability of AI is currently expanding beyond mechanical and repetitive to analytical and thinking. A “Feeling Economy” is emerging, in which AI performs many of the analytical and thinking tasks, and human workers gravitate more toward interpersonal and empathetic tasks. Although these people-focused tasks have always been important to jobs, they are now becoming more important to an unprecedented degree. To manage more effectively in the Feeling Economy, managers must adapt the nature of jobs to compensate for the fact that many of the analytical and thinking tasks are increasingly being performed by AI, and, thus, human workers must place increased emphasis on the empathetic and emotional dimensions of their work.
Chatbots are replacing human agents in a number of domains, from online tutoring to customer-service to even cognitive therapy. But, they are often machine-like in their interactions. What can we do to humanize chatbots? Should they necessarily be driven by human operators for them to be considered human? Or, will an anthropomorphic visual cue on the interface and/or a high-level of contingent message exchanges provide humanness to automated chatbots? We explored these questions with a 2 (anthropomorphic visual cues: high vs. low anthropomorphism) × 2 (message interactivity: high vs. low message interactivity) × 2 (identity cue: chat-bot vs. human) between-subjects experiment (N = 141) in which participants interacted with a chat agent on an e-commerce site about choosing a digital camera to purchase. Our findings show that a high level of message interactivity compensates for the impersonal nature of a chatbot that is low on anthropomorphic visual cues. Moreover, identifying the agent as human raises user expectations for interactivity. Theoretical as well as practical implications of these findings are discussed.
The concept of customer orientation in salespeople is defined, a scale is developed to measure the degree to which salespeople engage in customer-oriented selling, and the properties of the scale are reported. A test of the nomological validity indicates the use of customer-oriented selling is related to the ability of the salespeople to help their customers and the quality of the customer-salesperson relationship.
Many individual companies and some industries monitor customer satisfaction on a continual basis, but Sweden is the first country to do so on a national level. The annual Customer Satisfaction Barometer (CSB) measures customer satisfaction in more than 30 industries and for more than 100 corporations. The new index is intended to be complementary to productivity measures. Whereas productivity basically reflects quantity of output, CSB measures quality of output (as experienced by the buyer). The author reports the results of a large-scale Swedish effort to measure quality of the total consumption process as customer satisfaction. The significance of customer satisfaction and its place within the overall strategy of the firm are discussed. An implication from examining the relationship between market share and customer satisfaction by a location model is that satisfaction should be lower in industries where supply is homogeneous and demand heterogeneous. Satisfaction should be higher when the heterogeneity/homogeneity of demand is matched by the supply. Empirical support is found for that proposition in monopolies as well as in competitive market structures. Likewise, industries in general are found to have a high level of customer satisfaction if they are highly dependent on satisfaction for repeat business. The opposite is found for industries in which companies have more captive markets. For Sweden, the 1991 results show a slight increase in CSB, which should have a positive effect on the general economic climate.
The service encounter frequently is the service from the customer's point of view. Using the critical incident method, the authors collected 700 incidents from customers of airlines, hotels, and restaurants. The incidents were categorized to isolate the particular events and related behaviors of contact employees that cause customers to distinguish very satisfactory service encounters from very dissatisfactory ones. Key implications for managers and researchers are highlighted.
Automobile purchasers were surveyed about feelings toward their inputs to and outcomes from the sales transaction, as well as their perceptions of the inputs and outcomes of the salesperson. Structural equation modeling with maximum likelihood estimation shows two concepts advanced in the equity literature, fairness and preference (advantageous inequity), to be related differentially to input and outcome judgments. No necessary symmetry is observed between the weights attached to inputs and outcomes or between those attached to self and salesperson. When framed in a larger perspective involving satisfaction with the salesperson, the fairness dimension mediates the effect of inputs and outcomes on satisfaction whereas preference does not. The fairness influence is robust against the simultaneous inclusion of disconfirmation in the satisfaction equation. Satisfaction, in turn, is related strongly to the consumer's intention cognitions. The findings suggest that the retail sales transaction may differ in substantive ways from the subject-peer and worker-coworker comparisons in other disciplines and that models of interpersonal satisfaction in the sales transaction should include the mediating effect of the fairness dimension of equity. The managerial implications of these findings are discussed.
In a retail context there are many opportunities to reach consumers with messages while they are engaged in various shopping-related activities. Such activities, however, often involve physical effort – a variable that can influence information-processing outcomes. Yet very little is known about the impact of physical effort on consumers’ reactions to commercial messages in a retail context. The present study investigated this with an experiment in which the level of shopping-related physical effort (low vs. high) was manipulated while participants were exposed to a commercial message (an ad). The results show that physical effort attenuated message evaluations, and that this effect was mediated by message comprehension.
Disembodied conversational agents in the form of chatbots are increasingly becoming a reality on social media and messaging applications, and are a particularly pressing topic for service encounters with companies. Adopting an experimental design with actual chatbots powered with current technology, this study explores the extent to which human-like cues such as language style and name, and the framing used to introduce the chatbot to the consumer can influence perceptions about social presence as well as mindful and mindless anthropomorphism. Moreover, this study investigates the relevance of anthropomorphism and social presence to important company-related outcomes, such as attitudes, satisfaction and the emotional connection that consumers feel with the company after interacting with the chatbot.
The present study examines employee proactivity (i.e., the employee initiates face-to-face contact with the customer on the floor of the store) and its impact on customer satisfaction. Two empirical studies (one survey and one field experiment) were conducted in a grocery retailing context. Both studies showed that employee proactivity boosted customer satisfaction. Moreover, the impact of employee proactivity on satisfaction was sequentially mediated by perceived employee effort and perceived employee performance. In relation to previous studies showing that many characteristics and behaviors of the employee in the service encounter influence the customer, the present study contributes by adding that the way in which the service encounter begins is causally potent, too.
We introduce force in dynamic brand logos as a cue to brand work and subsequent brand energy; constructs we develop and distinguish from brand engagement. We argue the phenomenon observed is due to a brand work-energy effect, whereby the depiction of a drag force (opposite direction to motion) in brand logos enhances consumer judgments of brand work, which results in greater perceived brand energy. Taking a Newtonian physics lens, we argue that the presence of a drag force within a dynamic brand logo positively affects an individual's judgment of the brand's work (effort and trying hard) and brand's energy (momentum, power, and drive) and, subsequently, their brand attitude, purchase intention, and actual behavior. Across four experiments we manipulate brand logo design through the absence of force without motion (static logo), the absence of force with motion (kinematic logo), and the presence of force with motion (i.e., gravitational, spring, air resistance, and tension force; dynamic logo). Results demonstrate that the presence of a drag force in brand logos increases brand attitude and behavior. We demonstrate that brand work and brand energy, rather than brand engagement, sequentially explain attitudinal and behavioral judgments derived from brand logo drag force through a brand work-energy effect and a brand energy halo effect. We also determine that a thrust force of air propulsion results in attenuation of our brand work-energy effect, with high magnitude of a drag force enhancing the effect.
For many customers “good” service is not enough to create an experience that warrants telling others. Customers want an extraordinary service experience, but what does that really mean? Through an initial qualitative study, the authors tackle this question and conceptualize a term called Idiosyncratic Service Experience (ISE) to represent the interpersonal aspects that create these unique or special service experiences. ISE is a higher order construct made up of a) perceived employee effort, b) surprise, and c) perceived employee empathy. Further, the authors examine the antecedents and consequences of ISEs in a structural model. The results of our study found that ISEs promoted feelings of delight which lead to a higher tolerance to future failures, decreased price consciousness, and stimulated self-enhancing word-of-mouth. We also explore how exception making or the willingness of an employee to break a service norm influences ISEs and evaluations of delight.
Existing research on experiential offers often examines the impact of such offers on consumers' evaluations (e.g., customer satisfaction). Yet existing research has neglected that experiential offers typically involve effort from both the supplier and the consumer – and neglected that effort can influence evaluations. To address this gap, the present study examines the impact of supplier effort and the consumer's own effort on the consumer's evaluation of experiential offers in terms of customer satisfaction. Two experiments, comprising two different experiential offers, were carried out. In both experiments, supplier effort (low vs. high) and consumer effort (low vs. high) were manipulated. Customer satisfaction was the dependent variable. The results show that high supplier effort boosts customer satisfaction, and that the effects of consumer effort are either absent or indirect with a negative impact. Moreover, the results indicate that a supplier effort-consumer effort gap (i.e., the consumer perceives that the supplier has expended more effort than the consumer) contributes positively to customer satisfaction.
This paper aims to assess the impact of perceived effort related to packaging on overall product evaluations. Perceived effort, defined as the consumer’s perceptions of how much manufacturer effort that lies behind an offer, is assumed to contribute to evaluations by signaling unobservable characteristics of an offer.
Three between-subjects experiments were conducted with soft drink bottles, which were subject to variation in perceived effort.
The results show that perceived effort was positively associated with overall evaluations. The results also show that the impact of perceived effort was mediated by product quality perceptions, which indicates that effort signals quality.
Perceived effort has to date not been examined in the packaging literature. The present findings thus imply that models of packaging characteristics and their impact on consumers would benefit from including the effort aspect.
In movies, robots are often extremely humanlike. Although these robots are not yet reality, robots are currently being used in health care, education, and business. Robots provide benefits such as relieving loneliness and enabling communication. Engineers are trying to build robots that look and behave like humans and thus need comprehensive knowledge not only of technology but also of human cognition, emotion, and behavior. This need is driving engineers to study human behavior toward other humans and toward robots, leading to greater understanding of how humans think, feel, and behave in these contexts, including our tendencies for mindless social behaviors, anthropomorphism, uncanny feelings toward robots, and the formation of emotional attachments. However, in considering the increased use of robots, many people have concerns about deception, privacy, job loss, safety, and the loss of human relationships. Human-robot interaction is a fascinating field and one in which psychologists have much to contribute, both to the development of robots and to the study of human behavior. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Psychology Volume 68 is January 03, 2017. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.
This essay builds on and expands the domain of the burgeoning literature on the human prosumer and the process of prosumption. Just as the prosumer and prosumption are finally getting the attention they have always deserved, a dramatic technological change – the rise of smart prosuming machines – is taking place that is reducing the importance of the human prosumer. While the impact of these machines on producers (here conceived of as prosumers-as-producers) has long been obvious, what has changed the most is the explosion, and the growing impact, of these machines on consumers (or prosumers-as-consumers). A number of examples are offered of smart prosuming machines for humans. The latter are often unaware of the prosumption being done by smart machines, especially on the Internet. While smart prosuming machines offer many advantages, the danger lies in the replacement of human by non-human technologies and the control exercised by them. This is especially the case on the Internet of Things where many smart prosuming machines function, interrelate, and operate as autonomous, self-organizing devices.
The paper investigates the effects that consumer-perceived sender expense and effort might have on brand perceptions. More specifically, it extends the marketing signal literature to advertising by including both sender expense and effort, and by including both positive and negative effects. A quantitative analysis of 4,000 consumers' perceptions of creativity award winning, effectiveness award winning and non-award winning advertisements finds that advertisements with higher-than-average perceived expense and effort have positive impacts on brand attitudes, brand interest and word-of-mouth (WOM), while advertisements with lower-than-average perceived expense have corresponding negative impacts.
This research shows that brand anthropomorphization increases the perceived unfairness of price increases and the perceived fairness of price decreases. First, analyzing a household panel data set, the authors demonstrate the real-world consequences of brand humanization on consumers' price sensitivity. Second, building on the theoretical premise that fairness judgments depend on consumer focus on the self versus others, they find that brand humanization enhances perceived unfairness of price increases for agency-oriented consumers, who tend to maximize their own self-interests. However, for communion-oriented consumers, who generally consider the needs of others, brand humanization increases perceived fairness of both price increases and decreases. Furthermore, because consumers' focus on the self versus others also depends on relationship goals, the nature of consumer-brand relationships interacts with agency-communion orientation to influence the effect of brand humanization on perceived price fairness. For example, exchange relationship norms reduce the power of brand anthropomorphization to enhance perceived fairness of price changes for communion-oriented consumers. In contrast, the communal nature of these relationships makes both agency- and communion-oriented consumers infer greater positive intent from a humanized (vs. nonhumanized) brand, thus leading to a more positive effect of brand humanization on price fairness for price decreases.
This essay describes differences between papers that contain some theory rather than no theory. There is little agreement about what constitutes strong versus weak theory in the social sciences, but there is more consensus that references, data, variables, diagrams, and hypotheses are not theory. Despite this consensus, however, authors routinely use these five elements in lieu of theory. We explain how each of these five elements can be confused with theory and how to avoid such confusion. By making this consensus explicit, we hope to help authors avoid some of the most common and easily averted problems that lead readers to view papers as having inadequate theory. We then discuss how journals might facilitate the publication of stronger theory. We suggest that if the field is serious about producing stronger theory, journals need to reconsider their empirical requirements. We argue that journals ought to be more receptive to papers that test part rather than all of a theory and use illustrative rather than definitive data.
The science of AI is concerned with the study of intelligent forms of behaviour in computational terms. But what does it tell us when a good semblance of a behaviour can be achieved using cheap tricks that seem to have little to do with what we intuitively imagine intelligence to be? Are these intuitions wrong, and is intelligence really just a bag of tricks? Or are the philosophers right, and is a behavioural understanding of intelligence simply too weak? I think both of these are wrong. I suggest in the context of question-answering that what matters when it comes to the science of AI is not a good semblance of intelligent behaviour at all, but the behaviour itself, what it depends on, and how it can be achieved. I go on to discuss two major hurdles that I believe will need to be cleared.
By performing tasks traditionally fulfilled by service personnel and having a humanlike appearance, virtual customer service agents bring classical service elements to the web, which may positively influence customer satisfaction through eliciting social responses and feelings of personalization. This paper sheds light on these dynamics by proposing and testing a model drawing upon the theories of implicit personality, social response, emotional contagion, and social interaction. The model proposes friendliness, expertise, and smile as determinants of social presence, personalization, and online service encounter satisfaction. An empirical study confirms the cross-channel applicability of friendliness and expertise as determinants of social presence and personalization. Overall, the study underlines that integration between technology and personal aspects may lead to more social online service encounters.
We review a programme of research on the attribution of humanness to people, and the ways in which lesser humanness is attributed to some compared to others. We first present evidence that humanness has two distinct senses, one representing properties that are unique to our species, and the other—human nature—those properties that are essential or fundamental to the human category. An integrative model of dehumanisation is then laid out, in which distinct forms of dehumanisation correspond to the denial of the two senses of humanness, and the likening of people to particular kinds of nonhuman entities (animals and machines). Studies demonstrating that human nature attributes are ascribed more to the self than to others are reviewed, along with evidence of the phenomenon's cognitive and motivational basis. Research also indicates that both kinds of humanness are commonly denied to social groups, both explicitly and implicitly, and that they may cast a new light on the study of stereotype content. Our approach to the study of dehumanisation complements the tradition of research on infrahumanisation, and indicates new directions for exploring the importance of humanness as a dimension of social perception.