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K-State marketing professor studies human relationships with self-service technology

14.04.2003


Although ATMs are convenient, they have taken away from personal interaction during bank transactions. But according to research by a Kansas State University professor, consumers still feel as though they have relational benefits with self-service technology, much as they do when doing business with a human.

The research by Kevin Gwinner, an associate professor of marketing at K-State, shows that the attributes of self-service technology, such as the Internet, kiosks and ATMS, are indirectly linked to a customer’s satisfaction and loyalty. Gwinner completed the research with Rebecca Yen, a professor at Yuan Ze University, Taiwan.

"People think that the Internet and other technology is quick and less complicated," Gwinner said. "We wanted to know what types of relationships were being built when there wasn’t a human to talk with."



Gwinner and Yen’s model showed that although the end result of using self-service technology was customer satisfaction and loyalty, it was indirectly influenced by the benefits that a customer receives, such as added control in the transaction, better performance, convenience of purchasing and efficiency in shopping. Instead, those attributes were found to directly influence the relationship-related benefits the customer receives, including confidence and special treatment.

"Our research verified that relationship benefits still existed even when humans weren’t present on the firm’s side of the transaction," he said. "People believe they will get the same service time and time again when they use technology."

The results of Gwinner and Yen’s empirical study established a model for marketing and business professionals to use to help them better understand their customers’ use of self-service technology.

Gwinner said the findings suggest further research and can be used for academic and business purposes. He also said it would be helpful in business managerial applications to make them aware of how they can design the technological interface with the customer for maximum benefit.

"Additionally, the research can be used in thinking about how to segment markets into groups of consumers with different relationship preferences," he said.

Gwinner and Yen’s research was written during summer 2002 from a survey Yen conducted with 459 master’s of accountancy students in northern Taiwan.

Gwinner and Yen communicated through e-mail to collaborate research and co-author a paper, which was completed in December 2002 and recently accepted for publication. The study will appear in a special issue of the International Journal of Service Industry Marketing on e-commerce topics.

Kevin Gwinner | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ksu.edu/

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