A comparison of consumer views of traditional services and self-service technologies

Lawrence F. Cunningham, Clifford E. Young, James Gerlach
Journal of Services Marketing Vol. 23, Issue 1, p. 11-23

Purpose – Few marketing studies look at service classifications for self-service technologies (SSTs) and none directly compare consumer-based perceptions of traditional services to SSTs. To fill this gap, this study aims to examine how customers perceived traditional services and SSTs on service classifications criteria proposed by Lovelock, Bowen and Bell.
Design/methodology/approach – In two separate studies consumer ratings for each classification method on each service were obtained. Using multi-dimensional scaling (MDS), 13 traditional services and 12 SSTs were separately mapped onto a perceptual space of service classifications.
Findings – The comparison of the two perceptual spaces reveals that consumers viewed the classifications of convenience, person/object, and delivery for SSTs differently than that for traditional services. The classifications of traditional services were represented by two dimensions of customization/standardization and person/object. In contrast, the classifications of SSTs were represented by two dimensions of customization/standardization and separability/inseparability. Thus the description of the underlying dimensions of services varied by traditional services or SSTs.
Research limitations/implications – It is possible that the results of the MDS were influenced by the use of preset classifications. Results may also be influenced by the authors’ choice of MDS method. Further research is needed regarding the classification of SSTs and the use of these classifications for SST design.
Originality/value – This research extends previous consumer-based classification research by including SSTs. The findings identified separate typologies for SSTs and traditional services. The typologies should be of interest to both researchers and managers who are interested in how SSTs are perceived by consumers.