Date of Award

5-2005

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Business Administration

Major Professor

David W. Schumann

Committee Members

Ann E. Fairhurst, Pratibha A. Dabholkar, Daniel J. Flint

Abstract

The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate the
concept of customer productivity in a technology-based
self-service context (e.g., self-checkouts in grocery
stores) to understand how customer productivity and
customer value are related to each other. A preliminary
qualitative study initially explored the meaning of
customer productivity and the labor provided by customers
in self-service shopping and TBSS environments. Based on
these exploratory insights and the extant literature, a
conceptual framework was developed to identify the
relationships between customer inputs into a TBSS option
and customer outputs from that option influenced by
customer perceptions of self-service technology (SST) and
contact employee performance. Two adopter categories were
employed for comparison purposes: enthusiastic adopters and
reluctant adopters.
The quantitative study utilized a survey research
design. After pre-testing the scale items with a large
student sample, the latent variable structural equation
model was tested by data collected from both enthusiastic
and reluctant adopters who were customers of a large
national grocery chain.
There were 27 hypotheses in total. Besides testing the
proposed hypotheses, the dissertation also investigated a
total of seven potential relationships between the
exploratory construct of emotional effort and the SST
performance, contact employee performance, effort saving,
time saving, quality of customer labor, quality of service
and customer productivity.
This research regarding the customer productivity and
its relationship to customer value has made important
contributions to managers and researchers by filling gaps
in the productivity, retailing and services marketing
literatures.
It fills certain gaps in the literature by:
• introducing the new concept of customer productivity
in services marketing area,
• providing an understanding the concept of customer
productivity in a technology-based self-service
environment,
• incorporating both quantity and quality dimensions
into inputs by customer and outputs for customer in
testing multiple links toward customer productivity,• empirically testing a conceptual framework on customer
productivity,
• predicting links based on the antecedents of customer
productivity, retailer support (SST and contact
employee) and the overall outcome,
• establishing the link between customer productivity
and customer value,
• exploring the concept of emotional effort and
introducing it as a viable construct in customer
productivity,
• differentiating between enthusiastic and reluctant
adopters of TBSS options in general and self-checkouts
in particular.
This dissertation research also provides important
implications for managers. It contributes to the existing
practical business applications in terms of retail
strategies and tactics as concerns customers usage of
technology-based self-service by:
• presenting the emerging concept of customer
productivity as a new source of competitive advantage,
• providing a unique way to create and deliver customer
value based on the concept of customer productivity –
the self-productivity as perceived by customer,
• differentiating between the input and output sides of
the system for customer productivity to provide
further tactical details that can be used in
implementation phase of the crafted strategy,
• differentiating between quality of customer labor and
quality of service, and suggesting that the
significant link between them can potentially be used
to develop a customer training program to accelerate
the adoption of self-checkouts by reluctant adopters,
• underlining the importance of emotional effort as a
viable concept that can be used as a competitive tool
to increase perceived quality levels for both customer
labor and service,
• providing ideas on how new generation SSTs can
successfully be developed based on a number of
consequences such as contact employee performance,
quality of customer labor and emotional effort,
• differentiating between enthusiastic and reluctant
adopters to understand what can potentially be done at
strategic and tactical levels with regard to
introducing, targeting and positioning self-checkout
systems, other TBSS options and even technology-based
business-to-business self-services.

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