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How Anthropomorphized Helpers Increase Customers Outcomes in Smart Service Usage


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Gelbrich, Katja ; Hagel, Julia ; Orsingher, Chiara:
How Anthropomorphized Helpers Increase Customers Outcomes in Smart Service Usage.
Veranstaltung: 26th Annual Frontiers in Service Conference, 22.-26.06.2017, New York/USA.
(Veranstaltungsbeitrag: Kongress/Konferenz/Symposium/Tagung, Präsentation)


Smart services have been proliferating over the last years, especially in the form of apps that help users to achieve a certain goal like increasing one's fitness. Smart services are delivered via an intelligent object that is able to collect and provide data about its surroundings, allowing for a continuous communication and interactive feedback with the customer without service employee intervention. As such, a possible drawback of these services is the lack of human¾human interactions, which are a potential source of trust and satisfaction in brick-and-mortar businesses. Hence, this research examines whether there is value in using an anthropomorphized helper (i.e., a digital assistant with human-like features) in a smart service. Drawing on the concept of anthropomorphism and on the warmth and competence model, we hypothesize that humanlike features in an app (visual presence of a digital helper, emotional support by a digital helper) induce perceived anthropomorphism, which in turn, fosters positive customer outcomes, mediated by perceptions of warmth.
Two studies are conducted. Study 1 explores the role of other humans for goal achievement like maintaining or increasing one's fitness. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 37 people who engage regularly in fitness activities. Results show that other humans play important roles, through providing company (i.e., physical presence) and encouragement (i.e., emotional support). These findings justify that human-like helpers may be beneficial when using a smart fitness app.
¬¬¬Study 2 tests our hypotheses with a scenario-based experiment simulating the use of a step count app through photographic slides. We used a 2 x 2 x 2 design manipulating visual presence of a digital helper (depicting vs. not depicting a human-like digital fitness coach), emotional support by a digital helper (expressing or not expressing empathy and encouragement), and success¾failure (recommended 10,000 steps per day achieved vs. not achieved). Results of mediation analyses support the proposed effects: visual presence of a human-like helper, emotional support by the helper  perceived anthropomorphism  perceived warmth  satisfaction with the app, persistence in goal achievement. These results hold both in the success and in the failure condition.
This research makes three contributions to the service literature. First, we show that anthropomorphized helpers in smart services can possibly compensate for the lack of a real human in smart service usage. Second, we show that the different facets of anthropomorphism independently exert positive effects, with emotional support by the helper being more powerful than its human-like portrayal. Third, we explain perceived warmth as the theoretical anchor for these effects. Service practitioners learn how to add a human touch to smart services that originally rely on human¾machine interactions.

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Publikationsform:Veranstaltungsbeitrag (unveröffentlicht): Kongress/Konferenz/Symposium/Tagung, Präsentation
Schlagwörter:emotional support, anthropomorphism, digital helpers, perceived warmth, persistence
Institutionen der Universität:Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät > Betriebswirtschaftslehre > ABWL und Internationales Management
Titel an der KU entstanden:Ja
Eingestellt am: 25. Jul 2017 14:13
Letzte Änderung: 25. Jul 2017 14:13
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