Considered Service-specific journals were Journal of Service Research, Journal of Service Management, Journal of Services Marketing, Journal of Service Theory and Practice, Service Industries Journal, Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, and Service Science.

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Siebert, A., A. Gopaldas, A. Lindridge and C. Simões (2020): Customer Experience Journeys: Loyalty Loops Versus Involvement Spirals, Journal of Marketing, 84(4), pp.45-66

Customer experience management research is increasingly concerned with the long-term evolution of customer experience journeys across multiple service cycles. A dominant smooth journey model makes customers’ lives easier, with a cyclical pattern of predictable experiences that builds customer loyalty over time, also known as a loyalty loop. An alternate sticky journey model makes customers’ lives exciting, with a cyclical pattern of unpredictable experiences that increases customer involvement over time, conceptualized here as an involvement spiral. Whereas the smooth journey model is ideal for instrumental services that facilitate jobs to be done, the sticky journey model is ideal for recreational services that facilitate never-ending adventures. To match the flow of each journey type, firms are advised to encourage purchases during the initial service cycles of smooth journeys, or subsequent service cycles of sticky journeys. In multiservice systems, firms can sustain customer journeys by interlinking loyalty loops and involvement spirals. The article concludes with new journey-centered questions for customer experience management research, as well as branding research, consumer culture theory, consumer psychology, and transformative service research.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0022242920920262 [Google]

Motamarri, S., S. Akter and V. Yanamandram (2020): Frontline employee empowerment: Scale development and validation using Confirmatory Composite Analysis, International Journal of Information Management, 54(), pp.102177

Empowerment has been argued as a viable strategy to enable frontline employees (FLEs) to manage the complexities of service encounters. Organisations must cascade insights from analytics to frontlines for dynamic (re)bundling of service elements while serving customers. However, very little is known on how FLEs are empowered in analytics-driven services. This study addresses these research gaps, drawing on a systematic literature review and in-depth interviews (n = 30), followed by conceptualisation and validation of an empowerment scale through a pilot (n = 50) and the main study (n = 304). This research confirms empowerment as a second-order construct consisting of six dimensions namely, decision making, discretionary skills, information access, knowledge, tools and training. The predictive power of the scale is validated through PLSc and PLSpredict (k = 10) using a training sample (n = 274) and a holdout sample (n = 30). Theoretically, this work extends FLE empowerment to analytics-driven services. Practically, the study informs managers to complement their investments in technology with an internal orientation program to empower FLEs to effectively link with customers and seize opportunities.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2020.102177 [Google]

Huang, M.-H. and C. S. Dev (2020): Growing the service brand, International Journal of Research in Marketing, 37(2), pp.281-300

Service brands are increasingly dominating the economy. However, there is limited knowledge about how to grow service brands, and whether growing service brands will require strategies different from the strategies that are based on goods brand research. To address this knowledge gap, this paper conceptualizes a “ServBrand triad” based on the service literature, and empirically demonstrates how its three drivers are related to service brand growth. Service brand growth is defined as positive changes in brand outcomes, such as the brand being liked more, used more, or more profitable or valuable to a firm. The empirical work utilizes 11 years of longitudinal brand and firm data that are analyzed by dynamic multivariate generalized method of moments (GMM) panel models. The findings confirm the importance of the three drivers of service brand growth: quality, personalization, and relationships. Service marketers are advised to emphasize relationship-based service personalization (as opposed to quality-based personalization), maintain consistent service quality “at” customer expectation, neither above nor below, throughout the relationship, and improve service quality gradually (or subtly) to avoid quality-cost tradeoff and quality inconsistency perceptions. These findings contribute to an improved understanding of the factors that drive service brand growth, and how those factors differ from the factors that drive goods brand growth.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijresmar.2019.10.001 [Google]

Smith, L. W. and R. L. Rose (2020): Service with a smiley face: Emojional contagion in digitally mediated relationships, International Journal of Research in Marketing, 37(2), pp.301-319

The lack of typical nonverbal cues in digitally mediated marketing communication (e.g., text messages, social media etc.) creates special challenges for marketers desiring to manage customer relationships. To overcome these limitations, marketers have turned to emojis to convey subtle meaning regarding the message sender (often a service provider) and to elicit positive emotion in the message recipient. Relying on theories of emotion as social information and emotional contagion, we present three studies that provide initial evidence of a positive conscious and unconscious affective response to smiley-face emojis that mediates relational outcomes when relationships are communal in nature, but not when relationships are based on simple exchange. We also make a methodological contribution by employing biometric measurement of smiling in order to capture unconscious affect and to demonstrate novel emotional contagion effects in a customer service message. We close with a discussion of the average emoji effect observed across reported and unreported studies, which is modest but reliable, as well as discussion of future research opportunities and managerial implications. • Smiling emojis in digital customer service messages elicit positive affect in consumers. • Smiling emojis enhance the strength of marketing relationships. • Good feelings mediate the effect of smiling emojis on relationship strength. • These effects are only obtained in communal marketing relationships.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijresmar.2019.09.004 [Google]

Lazzarini, S. G. (2020): The Nature of the Social Firm: Alternative Organizational Forms for Social Value Creation and Appropriation, Academy of Management Review, 45(3), pp.620-645

I assess how alternative organizational forms affect the ability of multiple actors to appropriate economic rents in activities expected to create social value—defined as broad social benefits to a given population (including more vulnerable groups) minus their associated provision costs. I simultaneously examine three stylized forms: public bureaucracy, involving both public sponsorship and public management; public–private partnerships, with a mix of public sponsorship and private management; and social enterprise, with both private management and sponsorship from impact-oriented investors. Although the extant literature has underscored a supply-side hazard emerging when actors try to appropriate rents by economizing on noncontractible social dimensions, I also examine the implications of a demand-side tradeoff emerging when providers are tempted to focus on more profitable customer segments and exclude more vulnerable populations. In my framework, distinct organizational forms change the managerial incentives to provide inclusive, high-quality social services based on three main factors: the relative attractiveness of beneficiary segments, their cost structure, and the extent of fixed costs to implement and operate services. I thus offer a testable theory of organizational alignment, identifying the comparative merits of each form based on how they incentivize public and private actors to create and appropriate social value.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/amr.2018.0015 [Google]

Sands, S., C. Campbell, L. Shedd, C. Ferraro and A. Mavrommatis (2020): How small service failures drive customer defection: Introducing the concept of microfailures, Business Horizons, 63(4), pp.573-584

Service that falls below customer expectations is framed as a service failure. While many researchers have investigated service failures, they have tended to focus on large service failures. This is likely because large failures are more noticeable by firms and more likely to prompt customer complaints than small failures. However, we argue that smaller service failures can cause as much damage as larger failures, and in some cases even more. We introduce the concept of service microfailures, which we define as instances when a customer’s expectations go unmet in some small way. While minor in isolation, repeated service microfailures that go unnoticed and unrecovered can compound in effect and drive customer defection. For this reason, we propose that service microfailures are a potentially much larger managerial problem than they may appear on the surface. In this article, we conceptualize microfailures as a distinct form of service failure and outline the mechanism through which they cause damage. We then develop a multifaceted approach through which managers can detect, repair, and prevent service microfailures.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bushor.2020.03.014 [Google]

Campbell, C. and J. R. Farrell (2020): More than meets the eye: The functional components underlying influencer marketing, Business Horizons, 63(4), pp.469-479

Influencer marketing is the practice of compensating individuals for posting about a product or service on social media. Influencer marketing is on the rise, and many marketers now plan either to start using influencers or to increase their use of them in their media mixes. Despite such growth, relatively little strategic or academic insight exists that is specific to influencers. In this article, we describe the roots of influencer marketing and the many different types of influencers that now exist. We identify influencers’ three functional components: the audience, the endorser, and the social media manager. We then detail for each of these components the different sources of value influencers potentially offer marketers. We draw on relevant academic research to offer advice about how to leverage each component strategically. We close by describing how the interplay of these functional components makes influencers a potentially powerful—and undervalued—marketing tool.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bushor.2020.03.003 [Google]

Rapaccini, M., N. Saccani, C. Kowalkowski, M. Paiola and F. Adrodegari (2020): Navigating disruptive crises through service-led growth: The impact of COVID-19 on Italian manufacturing firms, Industrial Marketing Management, 88(), pp.225-237

This study draws on an extensive survey and interview data collected during the COVID-19 pandemic. The respondents were executives of industrials firms whose factories, warehouses, and headquarters are located in Northern Italy. This is undoubtedly the European region first and most extensively affected by the pandemic, and the government implemented radical lockdown measures, banning nonessential travel and mandating the shutdown of all nonessential businesses. Several major effects on both product and service businesses are highlighted, including the disruption of field-service operations and supply networks. This study also highlights the increased importance of servitization business models and the acceleration of digital transformation and advanced services. To help firms navigate through the crisis and be better positioned after the pandemic, the authors present a four-stage crisis management model (calamity, quick & dirty, restart , and adapt), which provides insights and critical actions that should be taken to cope with the expected short and long-term implications of the crisis. Finally, this study discusses how servitization can enhance resilience for future crises—providing a set of indicators on the presumed role of, and impact on, service operations in relation to what executives expect to be the “next normal.” • The COVID-19 lockdown impacted both product and service businesses, but service businesses are showing higher resilience. • The impact on business largely depends on market segments and industries. • The impact on service business varies depending on the extent of servitization. • Firms need to master four elements of resilience: preparedness, agility, elasticity, and redundancy. • Digitalization and digital servitization are expected to further accelerate.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.indmarman.2020.05.017 [Google]

Markovic, S., M. Jovanovic, M. Bagherzadeh, C. Sancha, M. Sarafinovska and Y. Qiu (2020): Priorities when selecting business partners for service innovation: The contingency role of product innovation, Industrial Marketing Management, 88(), pp.378-388

Firms increasingly engage in business-to-business cooperation to develop relevant innovations. Scholars have shown that firms can improve service innovation either by cooperating with suppliers or by cooperating with competitors. However, there is a dearth of research examining the relative importance of cooperating with suppliers and competitors to improve service innovation, and how this relative importance depends on embracing product innovation. Based on a cross-industry sample of 16,062 Spanish firms, this article addresses these research gaps, finding that firms can benefit from cooperating with both suppliers and competitors to boost service innovation, without prioritizing either. However, this article also shows that, if firms embrace product innovation, they should prioritize cooperating with competitors to boost service innovation. • Firms increasingly embrace cooperation to generate service innovations. • Firms face challenges in choosing specific business partners for cooperation. • Cooperating with both suppliers and competitors can boost service innovation. • Product innovation influences business partner selection for service innovation.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.indmarman.2020.06.001 [Google]

Arslanagic-Kalajdzic, M., S. Kadic-Maglajlic and D. Miocevic (2020): The power of emotional value: Moderating customer orientation effect in professional business services relationships, Industrial Marketing Management, 88(), pp.12-21

Just recently, the literature has established the existence of a dark side with regard to customer orientation (CO) in terms of sales performance. However, no clear position is presented about the possible dark side of CO when it comes to B2B relational outcomes, preventing managers from knowing when to accentuate/suppress CO activities. The aim of this study is to examine the relational consequences of suppliers’ CO seen through the customers’ lenses, and to investigate the moderating role of perceived emotional value in a professional service relationship context. A conceptual model anchored in value and relationship marketing theories is tested on a sample of 226 professional service firms’ business customers, using the PROCESS routine. The study finds that perceived CO is related to satisfaction with the relationship and with relationship performance in an inverted U-shaped form, while satisfaction is positively related to relationship performance. We show that, although preferring to receive CO from their supplier, customers might want a relationship that is not as intense/comprehensive as the one that the supplier aims to achieve. The study unfolds emotional value as a moderating mechanism that can prevent the diminishing effect of CO activities. • Study looks at customer orientation and customer perceived value together with important relationship marketing phenomena; • Perceived customer orientation is related to satisfaction with the relationship as indicated by an inverted U-shaped form; • Perceived emotional value moderates the curvilinear effect of perceived customer orientation on relationship satisfaction; • Emotional value acts as an auxiliary mechanism that can prevent the diminishing effects of customer orientation;

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.indmarman.2020.04.017 [Google]

Wong, C. W. Y., K.-h. Lai, Y. Pang, H. S. Y. Lee and T. C. E. Cheng (2020): Sourcing green makes green: Evidence from the BRICs, Industrial Marketing Management, 88(), pp.426-436

Facing increasing environmental concerns, many developing countries—especially Brazil, Russia, India, and China (the BRICs), which serve as the world’s major business-to-business (B2B) servicing hubs offering manufacturing and sourcing services—seek solutions to reduce damage caused to the environment. We draw on Systems Theory to investigate the manner in which sourcing options of input materials affect the environmental performance of servicing firms in the BRICs. We hypothesize that servicing firms in developing countries can lower pollution intensity by (i) substituting dirty inputs with clean inputs and (ii) substituting domestically sourced inputs with inputs imported from developed countries. Based on the industry-level input-output matrix for the BRICs over the period 1995–2009, our empirical findings suggest that firms significantly improved their environmental performance by using cleaner inputs and more inputs imported from developed countries. We demonstrate service innovation in the form of green sourcing by using clean materials accessible through trade liberalisation to achieve environmental benefits. We advance knowledge of green supply chain management and green sourcing strategies of servicing firms in developing countries. • Grounded the study in Systems Theory to investigate the sourcing options of input materials. • Investigates how sourcing options of input materials determine the environmental performance of industries. • Provide empirical evidence of cleaner inputs improves environmental performance.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.indmarman.2019.03.016 [Google]

Wang, L., L. Yan, T. Zhou, X. Guo and G. R. Heim (2020): Understanding Physicians’ Online-Offline Behavior Dynamics: An Empirical Study, Information Systems Research, 31(2), pp.537-555

Online healthcare platforms allow physicians and patients to communicate in a timely manner. Yet little is known about how physicians’ online and offline activities affect each other and, consequently, the healthcare system. We collected data from both online and offline channels to study physicians’ online-offline behavior dynamics. We find that physicians’ online activities can lead to a higher service quantity in offline channels, whereas offline activities may reduce physicians’ online services because of resource constraints. We also find that the more offline patients that physicians serve, the more articles the physicians will likely share in online healthcare platforms. These findings are of great importance to practitioners and policy makers. Our work provides evidence that online healthcare platforms supplement offline services and thus lessen the concern that physicians’ participation in online healthcare platforms will negatively influence offline healthcare services. Our findings also indicate the need for the improvement of online-offline coordination and better system design. Physicians’ participation in online healthcare platforms serves to integrate online healthcare resources with the offline medical system. This integration brings opportunities for reshaping healthcare delivery systems. In the field of telemedicine, there has been an extensive discussion about physician participation, but little is known about how physicians actually participate in online healthcare platforms and offline medical systems. Understanding physicians’ participation dynamics between online and offline channels is of great importance to academic researchers, practitioners, and policy makers. Such an understanding can reveal insights into how healthcare is actually delivered to patients through both channels, how to contribute to quantifying the social impacts of online healthcare services (Health 2.0), and how to improve healthcare delivery systems. Thus, in this study, we investigate physicians’ online-offline behavior dynamics using data from both online and offline channels to conduct our analysis. As physicians’ online and offline activities are highly endogenous, we deploy a time-series technique and develop a structural vector autoregression model to examine the behavior dynamics. We find that physicians’ online activities can lead to a higher service quantity in offline channels, whereas offline activities may reduce physicians’ online services because of resource constraints. Our results also show that the more offline patients physicians serve, the more articles the physicians will likely share online. These findings are robust to various econometric specifications and estimation methods. Our research advocates for the benefits Health 2.0 produces and provides evidence of the value of online healthcare communities and the policies that support them.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/isre.2019.0901 [Google]

Mousavi, R., M. Johar and V. S. Mookerjee (2020): The Voice of the Customer: Managing Customer Care in Twitter, Information Systems Research, 31(2), pp.340-360

In recent years, managing customer sentiment—particularly on social media—has become crucial as more customers use social media to seek help from firms. Therefore, we strive to determine an optimal strategy to manage customer sentiment on social media sites (digital customer care) such as Twitter. We also aim to identify factors and external events that can influence the effectiveness of digital customer care. Using Twitter data about digital customer care of the Big Four telecommunications firms (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile), we find a clear separation in digital customer care among these firms. The quality of digital customer care that customers expect varies across firms. Customers of higher priced firms (e.g., Verizon and AT&T) expect better customer care. We further find that good digital customer care is not merely a matter of responding to customer tweets. Rather, it is an effort-intensive activity in which customer tweets need to be carefully examined and adequately addressed. Furthermore, seemingly unrelated events (such as signing an exclusive contract with a celebrity) can impact digital customer care. Our study has important implications for decision makers as it can help firms determine the optimal strategy to influence customer sentiment. In recent years, managing customer sentiment—particularly on social media—has become crucial as more customers use social media to seek help from firms. Therefore, we strive to determine an optimal strategy to manage customer sentiment on social media sites such as Twitter. We also aim to identify factors and external events that can influence the effectiveness of customer care. To understand the antecedents of digital customer care, we model a diffusion process of customer sentiment over time. This diffusion process is influenced (or controlled) by the firm through the strategy employed to respond to customer tweets. We then use real data consisting of sentiments expressed by customers directed at Twitter’s service accounts of four major U.S. telecommunication-service providers (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile) to estimate the parameters in our analytical model and shed several insights into digital customer care in this industry. First, we find a clear separation among the firms in terms of digital customer care effectiveness. Second, we find that good customer care is not merely a matter of responding to customer tweets. Third, the quality of digital customer care that customers expect varies across firms: Customers of higher priced firms (e.g., Verizon and AT&T) expect better customer care. Fourth, seemingly unrelated events (such as signing an exclusive contract with a celebrity) can impact digital customer care. Our study has important implications for managers as it can help firms determine the optimal strategy to influence customer sentiment.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/isre.2019.0889 [Google]

Sheehan, B., H. S. Jin and U. Gottlieb (2020): Customer service chatbots: Anthropomorphism and adoption, Journal of Business Research, 115(), pp.14-24

• Chatbot miscommunication reduces adoption intent via anthropomorphism (Anthro). • No differences between an error-free chatbot and one seeking clarification. • Anthro –> adoption relationship mediated by perceived ease of use. • Anthro chatbots may partially satisfy a consumer’s need for human interaction. Firms are deploying chatbots to automate customer service. However, miscommunication is a frequent occurrence in human-chatbot interaction. This study investigates the relationship between miscommunication and adoption for customer service chatbots. Anthropomorphism is tested as an account for the relationship. Two experiments compare the perceived humanness and adoption scores for (a) an error-free chatbot, (b) a chatbot seeking clarification regarding a consumer input and (c) a chatbot which fails to discern context. The results suggest that unresolved errors are sufficient to reduce anthropomorphism and adoption intent. However, there is no perceptual difference between an error-free chatbot and one which seeks clarification. The ability to resolve miscommunication (clarification) appears as effective as avoiding it (error-free). Furthermore, the higher a consumer’s need for human interaction, the stronger the anthropomorphism – adoption relationship. Thus, anthropomorphic chatbots may satisfy the social desires of consumers high in need for human interaction.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2020.04.030 [Google]

Xia, L. and A. L. Roggeveen (2020): When it’s too good to be true: Consumers’ reactions and firms’ responses to unintended price mistakes, Journal of Business Research, 114(), pp.16-29

• Price mistakes are common. • Powerful Consumers are more likely to use price mistakes when they feel powerful. • Consumers are more likely to use price mistakes when the company is powerful. • Perceived service fairness both motivating and inhibiting usage of price mistakes. • Price mistakes offer consumers an opportunity for revenge. • Perceived service fairness moderates the effect of company decision. Growing dynamic pricing and price automation trends increase the risk of price mistakes. In the case of low price mistakes, consumers might seek to take advantage of the error, and the company must decide whether to honor or deny the transactions. A set of studies reveal that consumers are more likely to take advantage of the price mistake when they feel powerful and when they perceive the company as powerful. Moreover, their perceptions of service fairness serve as double-edged swords, motivating consumers to take advantage of the price mistake because they anticipate a high likelihood that the company will honor the lower price but also inhibiting this behavior, due to consumers’ concern for the potential damage to the company. Finally, service fairness also influences how consumers react to firms’ decisions. This research offers an initial investigation of price mistakes that reveals valuable theoretical and managerial implications.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2020.03.024 [Google]

Ilk, N., G. Shang and P. Goes (2020): Improving customer routing in contact centers: An automated triage design based on text analytics, Journal of Operations Management, 66(5), pp.553-577

We propose an automated triage design for intelligent customer routing in live‐chat contact centers and demonstrate its implementation using a real‐world data set from an S&P 500 firm. The proposed design emerges as a synthesis of text analytics and predictive machine learning methods. Using numerical experiments based on the simulation of the firm’s contact center, we demonstrate the service level, time, and labor cost benefits of the automated design over two other triage designs (i.e., customer choice triage and human expert triage) that are commonly employed in the real world. Through additional analyses, we explore the generalizability of the automated design for creating solutions for different types of communication channels. Our work has implications for managing customer relations under emerging communication technologies (e.g., live‐chat, e‐mail, and social media) and more broadly for demonstrating the use of text analytics and machine learning to improve Operations Management practice.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/joom.1084 [Google]

Yu, J. J., C. S. Tang, Z.-J. Max Shen and X. M. Chen (2020): A Balancing Act of Regulating On-Demand Ride Services, Management Science, 66(7), pp.2975-2992

Regulating on-demand ride-hailing services (e.g., Uber and DiDi) requires a balance of multiple competing objectives: encouraging innovative business models (e.g., DiDi), sustaining traditional industries (e.g., taxi), creating new jobs, and reducing traffic congestion. This study is motivated by a regulatory policy implemented by the Chinese government in 2017 and a similar policy approved by the New York City Council in 2018 that regulate the “maximum” number of registered Uber/DiDi drivers. We examine the impact of these policies on the welfare of different stakeholders (i.e., consumers, taxi drivers, on-demand ride service company, and independent drivers). By analyzing a two-period dynamic game that involves these stakeholders, we find that, without government intervention, the on-demand ride service platform can drive the traditional taxi industry out of the market under certain conditions. Relative to no regulations and a complete ban policy, a carefully designed regulatory policy can strike a better balance of multiple competing objectives. Finally, if a government can reform the taxi industry by adjusting the taxi fare, then lowering the taxi fare instead of imposing a strict policy toward on-demand ride services can improve the total social welfare. This paper was accepted by Serguei Netessine, operations management.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2019.3351 [Google]

Stein, C., V.-A. Truong and X. Wang (2020): Advance Service Reservations with Heterogeneous Customers, Management Science, 66(7), pp.2929-2950

We study a fundamental model of resource allocation in which a finite number of resources must be assigned in an online manner to a heterogeneous stream of customers. The customers arrive randomly over time according to known stochastic processes. Each customer requires a specific amount of capacity and has a specific preference for each of the resources with some resources being feasible for the customer and some not. The system must find a feasible assignment of each customer to a resource or must reject the customer. The aim is to maximize the total expected capacity utilization of the resources over the horizon. This model has application in services, freight transportation, and online advertising. We present online algorithms with bounded competitive ratios relative to an optimal off-line algorithm that knows all stochastic information. Our algorithms perform extremely well compared with common heuristics as demonstrated on a real data set from a large hospital system in New York City. This paper was accepted by Yinyu Ye, optimization.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2019.3364 [Google]

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