Human interaction in service delivery and its relationship to disenchantment discontinuance in the diffusion of self-service technologies : a case study in retail banking : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Marketing at Massey University
The concept of self-service in the consumer goods industry is not new. For instance, consider the food vending machines found in most countries. When applied to the services industry, however, the concept of self-service is more innovative. The traditional concept of channels of distribution as described in consumer goods marketing is of very little value when deciding how to distribute services, since services have unique characteristics. One such characteristic is inseparability. Services are typically produced and consumed at the same time. Since the client is also present as the service is produced, provider-client interaction is a special feature of services marketing. In the 1990s this provider-client interaction is being challenged due to self-service technology. Not all consumers, however, are satisfied with receiving a service through a machine, and prefer human interaction. Some consumers, after adopting self-service technologies, have abandoned them and reverted back to obtaining the service from a human. In other words, there appears to be a form of diffusion regression. According to Rogers (1962) when an innovation has been rejected after it has been adopted, it is called a 'discontinuance'. Supersedence discontinuance occurs when consumers cease using an idea in order to adopt a better idea which supersedes it. This has been found in many studies. Disenchantment discontinuance is a decision to cease an idea as a result of growing dissatisfaction with its performance. A literature search found that no study had set out with the objective of measuring the existence, or non-existence, of this phenomenon. This thesis used a case study approach by examining the retail banking industry. From a theoretical point of view, the main hypothesis of this thesis was that the trend towards the increased use of self-service technology in retail banking is reversing, and will continue to reverse, due to a growing consumer preference for dealing with people in banking. In other words, disenchantment discontinuance is occurring. To test this hypothesis, a survey was conducted of consumers, in conjunction with a three round Delphi study of New Zealand's leading banking technology experts. The consumer survey indicated that there were less than significant levels of disenchantment discontinuance for the three technologies under examination: Automated telling machines (ATMs), Electronic Funds Transfer at the Point of Sale (EFTPOS), and automated telephone banking. The Delphi study indicated that the experts did not believe disenchantment discontinuance is occurring, or will occur. This is not to say that human bank staff do not have a future. With more and more transaction type work moving to self-service technology, staff time will be freed up so that they will be in a position to become sales representatives and cross-sellers. In this context, the bank branch of the future can be expected to reflect more of a retail image. From a methodological point of view, the Delphi technique has long suffered high rates of attrition. Typically, large numbers of the chosen respondents fail to return the first questionnaire, and succeedingly smaller numbers of respondents return questionnaires at each iteration. No reported study has considered the problem of attrition by analysing the character of individuals who do and do not respond, or even by eliciting reasons for non response. Therefore, during the course of this research, systematic sampling effects and response patterns were identified and recorded. The results indicated that Delphi responses tend to be returned quicker in the second and third rounds than the first round, suggesting the presence of the experience effect. The main reason for withdrawing from the research before completing the requirements was that the expert had other priorities. The main reason for completing the requirements of the research was that the experts felt obliged to since they agreed to do so initially when sent the letter inviting them to take part in the research.