Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Tellers versus Technology in Overall Consumer Satisfaction with Banking Services

Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Tellers versus Technology in Overall Consumer Satisfaction with Banking Services

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Service encounter satisfaction plays an integral role in the determination of overall satisfaction with the firm by the consumer. "Service encounters are critical moments of truth in which customers often develop indelible impressions of a firm. In fact, the encounter frequently is the service from the customer's point of view" (Bitner, Brown and Meuter 2000, p. 139). Shostack (1985) defines a service encounter as "a period of time during which a consumer directly interacts with a service" (p. 243). This interaction can be either with an employee or with the self-service technology of the company.

For interaction with an employee, personalization is an important factor in customer service satisfaction. Personalization involves the politeness, courtesy, and friendliness of an employee's behavior when interacting with a customer and affects customer service satisfaction (Mittal and Lassar 1996). However, self-service technology has created dramatic changes in the way a company interacts with its customers. According to Bitner, Brown and Meuter (2000), the number of encounters a customer has with a firm may dramatically increase due to the use of technology. The impact of such changes on consumers' perception and level of satisfaction with the service provided by the firm is of interest. In this research, we examine the relative impact of the human encounter and the technological encounter on consumers' overall satisfaction.

THEORETICAL BACKGROUND

Overall Satisfaction Versus Encounter-Specific Satisfaction

Bitner and Hubbert (1994) define service encounter satisfaction as the consumer's dis/satisfaction with a discrete service encounter (e.g., a haircut, an interaction with a dentist, a discussion with a repair person, an experience at a hotel check-in desk) while overall satisfaction is an accumulation of all previous experiences with a service provider, and therefore is a function of all previous encounter-specific satisfaction (Jones and Suh 2000; Bitner and Hubbert 1994). Bitner and Hubbert (1994) found that encounter-specific satisfaction and overall satisfaction are distinct to consumers, but highly correlated. Empirical support was found for this distinction by Jones and Suh (2000), even when measuring both types of satisfaction with the same scale. Bitner et al. (2000) also suggested that the "service from a customer's perspective may actually be a relationship made up of repeated, similar service encounters" and that "each individual encounter can be critical in determining the customer's future behavior toward the company" (p. 139). Since, these encounters may be human encounters as well as technological encounters; we intend to examine the weight of human encounter satisfaction versus technological encounter satisfaction in determining consumers' overall satisfaction level with the firm.

Encounter specific satisfaction and its influence on overall satisfaction can be explained using attribution theory. According to Folkes (1984), attribution theory views people as rational information processors whose actions are influenced by their causal inferences. Prior research demonstrates that only in the case of a service failure do consumers look into the causes of that failure, however the cause is not considered in a successful transaction (Weiner 2000). "Attributions are what people perceive to be the causes behind their own behavior, the behaviors of others, or the events they observe" (Bitner 1990, p. 70). According to Bitner (1990), "Weiner's long stream of research on attributions has led to the conclusion that most cases can be classified on three dimensions: locus (Who is responsible?), control (Did the responsible party have control over the cause?), and stability (Is the cause likely to recur?)" (p. 70). Folkes (1984) states that this classification has been linked to behavioral consequences. …

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