E-Service Customization: The Consumer Perspective

E-Service Customization: The Consumer Perspective

Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 28
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1604-2.ch002
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Abstract

This chapter investigates the service customization process from a consumer perspective. The consumer perspective of customization can be defined as all the concepts, models, processes, and theories concerned with consumer knowledge, information, behavior, and psychological traits relevant to service customization. E-service customization is difficult to implement because of the difficulty of getting reliable information from the customers. Customization is a complex decision process that is affected by environmental, behavioral, and psychological factors. This chapter discusses techniques such as capturing consumer information in profiles, cognitive processes involved in service customization, etc. It discusses the types of e-service consumers, approaches, and technologies for customer profiling such as fuzzy logic and (Web) data mining. It also refers to psychological and cognitive theories and models that study the e-service consumer behavior such as the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA), the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), the satisficing principle, and others.
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Introduction

This chapter investigates the service customization process, which was originally presented in the introductory chapter, from a consumer perspective. It discuses techniques such as capturing consumer information in profiles, cognitive processes involved in service customization, and related concepts. In other words, this chapter attempts a deeper understanding of the service consumer characteristics that affect the customization process.

One of the reasons e-service customization is difficult to implement, is because of the difficulty of getting good and reliable information from the customers. The lack of the human element can result in customers not trusting the business enough and thus not providing the necessary information (Barlow, 2000). On the other hand, if the proper information is obtained from the customers, the flexibility of e-services allows for virtually unlimited customizing options (Rust & Chung, 2006).

Being essentially a decision process, service customization is complex and subject to influences by various factors. Gil and García (2003), for example, argue that for product selection online, (which has certain similarities to service customization), user behavioral aspects need to be taken into account. Other factors affecting the customization process can be divided into three categories:

  • Environmental influences such as culture, social class, personal influence, family, and situation.

  • Individual differences, for example, consumer resources, motivation and involvement, knowledge, attitudes, personality, lifestyle, and demographics.

  • Psychological processes for information processing, learning, as well as attitude and behavior change.

The above factors and their impact on service customization are the subject of this chapter. This chapter therefore discusses the current research on customer profiling techniques. It covers customer segmentation and profiling using methods, such as data mining, and fuzzy customer profiling techniques. The chapter also discusses knowledge based methods for profiling customers, using ontologies.

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