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A meta-analysis of the effect of chatbot anthropomorphism on the customer journey

Cheng Yanxia (School of Management, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan, China)
Zhu Shijia (School of Management, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan, China)
Xiao Yuyang (School of Management, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan, China)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Article publication date: 14 November 2023

Issue publication date: 8 January 2024

1062

Abstract

Purpose

Chatbots are increasingly engaged in service marketing. Some academics and managers think using anthropomorphism chatbots will improve positive attitudes and behaviors in the customer journey, but at a high degree of anthropomorphism, consumers may experience negative emotions such as fear and disgust due to the feeling that the robots resemble humans too much, which is known as the uncanny valley effect. Therefore, the authors aim to explore whether chatbot anthropomorphism will promote or limit the development of the customer journey and explore the moderating factors and the antecedent factors affecting consumers' perceptions of chatbot anthropomorphism.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors collected 72,782 unique data points from 42 articles and 82 samples using a meta-analysis. Based on the stimuli-organism-response (SOR) model, the impact of anthropomorphic chatbots on the consumer journey was discussed.

Findings

The authors’ findings show that chatbot anthropomorphism positively impacts the customer journey but not their negative attitudes. Further moderator analysis reveals that the impact depends on service result, chatbot gender and sample source. The chatbot anthropomorphism is significantly influenced by social presence cues, emotional message cues and mixed cues.

Originality/value

This research contributes to the chatbot anthropomorphism literature and offers guidance for managers on whether and how to enhance chatbot anthropomorphism to facilitate the customer journey and improve service sustainability.

Keywords

Citation

Yanxia, C., Shijia, Z. and Yuyang, X. (2024), "A meta-analysis of the effect of chatbot anthropomorphism on the customer journey", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 42 No. 1, pp. 1-22. https://doi.org/10.1108/MIP-03-2023-0103

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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