The Effects of Customer Perceived Employee Support on Self-Efficacy and Behavioral Intentions: The Roles of Service Complexity and Choice Freedom

The Effects of Customer Perceived Employee Support on Self-Efficacy and Behavioral Intentions: The Roles of Service Complexity and Choice Freedom

Shunzhong Liu (School of Economics and Business Administration, Central China Normal University, Wuhan, China)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJESMA.2016010101
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The provision of self-service technologies in the service industry has increased rapidly in recent years. Despite the advantages with increased self-service technologies, removing the frontline employee support can influence customer behavioral intentions towards the service providers. According to social support theory and social cognitive theory, this study develops a conceptual model to investigate how and when perceived employee support affects customer behavioral intentions. The model is tested using a factorial between-subjects experimental design in the self-service environment of China's bank. The results show that the relationship between perceived employee support and customer self-efficacy is moderated by forced use and service complexity. Moreover, the results indicate that self-efficacy is a mediator that explains how perceived employee support may come to be associated with customer behavioral intentions towards the service providers.
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Self-service technologies (SSTs) are technological interfaces that enable customers to take advantage of a service without any service employee involvement (Meuter, Ostrom, Roundtree, & Bitner, 2000). As the introduction of SSTs opens up the potential of improving productivity and service quality while cutting cost, more and more service providers have introduced these technologies in the interface between companies and customers (Weijters, Rangarajan, Falk, & Schillewaert, 2007). However, the substitution of human contact with SSTs is not always as successful as expected (Salomann, Kolbe, & Brenner, 2005). Since personal service is the cornerstone of most service industries, removing the human contact may cause the potential hazard in developing customer relationships (Selnes & Hansen, 2001). It is impossible today to design a SST interface that may replace personal interaction. All customers have experienced the mishaps of misapplied technology, which often has no discernible benefit for the customer experience and sometimes even erodes it (Rayport, Jaworski, & Kyung, 2005). As thus, cold hard SSTs can help service providers remove the bottlenecks, but cannot replace service personnel entirely. Binter, Brown and Meuter (2000) argue that it is important to retain the traditional low-tech, high-touch approach as a viable option for customers when moving towards enabling technology use in service encounters. Selnes and Hansen (2001) indicate that transformation from personal service to self-service is not necessarily a change from a personal to an impersonal relationship but a change from personal service to a mix of personal and self-service. As to the double-edged sword of SSTs, the strategic question facing companies is how to effectively distribute the relationship building roles between humans and machines in a way that capitalizes on the strengths of each (Rayport et al., 2005).

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