Service firms provide intangible products such as consultancy, therapy, training, maintenance, or advice. Since the product cannot be touched and kept, customer service interactions gain importance in this type of a firm.
The response consumers have to automated interactions depend on the quality of the responses and the complexity and implications of the interaction.
In low-implication interactions where the stakes of against something going wrong are relatively low, consumers are more likely to be satisfied with an automated interaction. For example, a consumer setting up an appointment online by choosing a time and date from a calendar or even by chatting a bot will most likely be satisfied with the interaction as long as all the options are well-defined. If the consumer is able to choose the time and date, be able to visualize availability, and easily describe the reason behind the appointment; the requirement will be met. If something goes wrong during the interaction, the stakes are relatively low for the consumer. The consumer would simply not be able to schedule the appointment or would possibly select a less than an appropriate option for the reason behind the appointment. However, the stakes are higher for the business in this case. If the consumer is unable to book the appointment, the business loses a customer unless the business has a backup system to book appointments such as a customer-service phone number or an email address monitored by a human.
In high-implication interactions where the stakes of against something going wrong are high, consumers are more likely to be dissatisfied with an automated interaction. For example, if a consumer needs to request emergency ambulance transport service with a high level of specifications; the consumer would not likely be satisfied with an automated service interaction since the stakes are high. If something were to go wrong and the ambulance was not scheduled at the correct time or if it lacked important equipment required for the patient’s safety during the transport, the consequences could be potentially life-threatening. Therefore, the consumer would likely demand a human-to-human service interaction in order to be satisfied in this case.
Another factor that will determine the level of acceptance of an automated service is the cost. If the automated interaction translates to a lower cost for the service offered, a consumer will be more likely to accept an automated interaction and to be satisfied with it. For example, let’s say your firm runs a celebrity-client weight loss consultation service with a price that is inaccessible to most people. In order to expand your service to a larger sector of the population, you offer a plan with chatbots that offer encouragement, meal-plans, work out schedules, etc and it is all personalized through a questionnaire. In this case, consumers of the automated weight-loss consultation are getting a watered-down version of the original service for a discounted price and are therefore likely to be satisfied with the service as long as it does what it promises.