The concept of online customer service experience (OCSE) has recently received great interest from academia and businesses alike. Despite the belief that providing superb online experiences will influence customers' online buying behavior, most of the research focuses solely on the controllable factors of the online experience. This paper seeks to address these issues.
Using the means-end approach in 62 semi-structured interviews with a representative sample from three countries, and a new tool to elicit behavioral aggregation, the emerging consensus technique (ECT), the author conceptualizes online customer service experience (OCSE).
The study identifies functionality and psychological factors as the two main dimensions of online customer service experience. Functionality encompasses the technical attributes of the web vendor, namely the sub-dimensions usability, product presence, communication, social presence, and interactivity. Psychological factors consist of the attitudinal based sub-dimensions context familiarity, trust, and value for money. The conceptual model extends and expands existing literature on online customer service experience models. In particular, the study identifies that the individual importance of the online customer service experience dimensions differ depending on which stage of the experience, namely prior to, during, or after the transaction the customer is in. Moreover, the study reveals the presence of one previously unexplored key component of the online customer service experience: social presence.
Based on its empirical findings, this article proposes a dynamic conceptual framework of online customer service experience, which incorporates the individual dimensions of the online experience according to the stage of the customer journey. Using and validating a new tool of extracting elicit behavioral aggregation, the ECT, the study conceptualizes the online customer service experience, exploring previously unexplored key dimensions of OCSE. The model highlights the dynamic nature of OCSE by exploring the relative importance of each identified dimension in relation to the stage of the interaction, i.e. before, during, or after the transaction/purchase, between the customer and the service provider.
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