The effects of two-way communication and chat service usage on consumer attitudes in the e-commerce retailing sector

Abstract

In e-commerce retailing (e-retailing), where competitors are only one click away and prices are easy to compare, providing superior customer service and reciprocal communication via a company’s website are important aspects of attracting and retaining customers. One increasingly popular solution to improve customer service is a “live chat” interface that allows consumers to have real-time conversations online with customer service agents. As the literature on the impacts of real-time communication via live chat is currently very limited, this study develops and tests a model that demonstrates the moderating effects of a chat service on the relationship between two-way communication (i.e., a core element of perceived website interactivity) and customer satisfaction, trust, repurchase and word-of-mouth (WOM) intentions. The data for this study were collected via an online survey (N = 6783) targeting the existing customers of five e-retailers that actively utilize live chats as a customer service tool. The study results show that the extent to which a consumer perceives that an e-retailer is dedicated to fostering two-way communication between the consumer and the seller has significant effects on trust, satisfaction, and repurchase and WOM intentions. Moreover, the results of a multi-group analysis show that the use of a chat service positively moderates these relationships.

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Correspondence to Joel Mero (Järvinen).

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Table 7 Constructs and items

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Mero (Järvinen), J. The effects of two-way communication and chat service usage on consumer attitudes in the e-commerce retailing sector. Electron Markets 28, 205–217 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12525-017-0281-2

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Keywords

  • Computer-mediated communication
  • Customer service
  • E-commerce
  • Live chat
  • Online retailing

JEL classification

  • M310 Marketing