, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 138-149

Technology infusion in service encounters

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Abstract

Service encounters are critical in all industries, including those that have not been traditionally defined as service industries. The increasing deployment of technology is altering the essence of service encounters formerly anchored in a “low-tech, high-touch” paradigm. This article explores the changing nature of service, with an emphasis on how encounters can be improved through the effective use of technology. The authors examine the ability of technology to effectively (1) customize service offerings, (2) recover from service failure, and (3) spontaneously delight customers. The infusion of technology is examined as an enabler of both employees and customers in efforts to achieve these three goals. Although the infusion of technology can lead to negative outcomes and may not be embraced by all customers, the focus of this article is on the benefits of thoughtfully managed and effectively implemented technology applications. Past research and industry examples are featured and future research directions and managerial implications are highlighted.

Mary Jo Bitner is the AT&T Professor of Services Marketing and Management and the research director of the Center for Services Marketing & Management at Arizona State University. Her research focuses on customer evaluations of service, selfservice technologies, and service delivery issues. She has published in theJournal of Marketing, theJournal of the Academy of Marketing Science, theJournal of Business Research, theJournal of Retailing, and theInternational Journal of Service Industry Management. She is coauthor of the textServices Marketing (McGraw-Hill, 2d ed., 2000).
Stephen W. Brown holds the Edward M. Carson Chair of Services Marketing and Management, is Professor of Marketing, and director of the Center for Services Marketing & Management at Arizona State University. His research focuses on services marketing strategy, service delivery, customer loyalty, and service recovery. He has published in theJournal of Marketing, theJournal of Marketing Research, theJournal of the Academy of Marketing Science, theJournal of Business Research, and theJournal of Retailing. He is the coeditor of theAdvances in Services Marketing and Management series.
Matthew L. Meuter is Assistant Professor of Marketing at Villanova University with a Ph.D. in marketing from Arizona State University. His research interests focus on the impact technology has on the marketing function, the changing nature of technologically based service encounters, customer satisfaction with self-service technologies, and customer adoption of technologically based service delivery innovations. His research has been published in the American Marketing Association's (AMA)Educators' Proceedings and has been presented at several national conferences.