This paper aims to investigate customers’ motivations and the decision-making process when choosing a channel in a “social” multichannel environment that includes social media channels, and the complementary and competitive effects compared to traditional channels within the multichannel strategy of a major European telecoms provider. A conceptual framework of multichannel customer behaviour in a “social” multichannel environment is proposed.
The study adopts an exploratory approach through 74 semi-structured interviews with customers of a major European telecoms provider who have also used social media channels to contact the company (customer-initiated contact, CIC).
Users of distinct social media channels are driven by different motivations. For instance, the social motivation for using social media is evident for Facebook users, while Twitter users are mainly driven by utilitarian considerations. Although users of different social media channels represent distinct segments in terms of behaviours and motivations, complementary effects among channels (new and traditional) are generally detected in the sense that a better customer experience is driven by the presence of multiple channels.
Data collection was performed for only one company in one industry and should be extended to other industries, although our results were confirmed by discussions with social media managers of other companies.
The research offers suggestions to develop multichannel strategies in a “social” multichannel environment.
This study advances knowledge in the multichannel management field by investigating why and how customers utilize channels in a multichannel environment that includes social media channels. The authors develop a conceptual framework of multichannel customer behaviour for CIC in a “social” multichannel environment.
The author acknowledges the telecoms provider Orange and Erwan Le Quentrec for their support in the research.
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