Article - On Campus Only
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.
Köhler, C., Rohm, A., De Ruyter, K., & Wetzels, M. (2011). Return on Interactivity: The Impact of Online Agents on Newcomer Adjustment. Journal of Marketing, 75(2), 93-108.