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Deadline: 20 October 2019
Automated forms of interaction in services: current trends, benefits and challenges
As with previous technology-based revolutions (e.g. industrial, digital), the implementation of automated and computerized forms of interaction (e.g. artificial intelligence (AI), robots) in business is having an important impact on economies and employment, among other aspects. Automation will not only replace manual jobs, but also those involving analytical, intuitive and empathetic skills (Huang and Rust, 2018). In a further and more challenging step, automation has been recently used to interact directly and physically with customers in frontline services, which is shaking up service delivery and customer-firm relationships. For instance, banks are increasingly using AI based Financial Technology (FinTech) as a key element in their strategies (Jung et al. 2018); in some branches of the Bank of Tokyo (Marinova et al., 2017) the Nao robot collaborates with bank tellers, AI is progressively employed to analyze large amounts of data to facilitate complex business decision-making, the LoweBot guides customers through Lowe’s stores and responds to their questions (Rafaeli et al., 2017) and chatbots are increasingly used for customer service (the Bank of America use a chatbot named Erica to answer basic banking questions [Rosman, 2018]).
The use of automated forms of interaction in services is an innovation that may affect customer choices (e.g., Van Doorn et al. 2017) as well as productivity and profitability. As a result, there is an increasing awareness on the part of firms that they need to develop service automation, so that they can achieve a competitive advantage by better approaching the current market transformation in the short and medium term. However, although the use of robots for product transportation has clear benefits, the results of robots operating in social settings and replacing human interactions (such as in services) are less clear.
In spite of increasing interest, recent contributions to this emerging field are mainly theoretical; consequently, there is a need to confront experts’ predictions with evidence obtained from the use of automation in frontline services. The aim of this special issue is to deepen and broaden the current understanding of the use of automated forms of interaction in services (e.g. AI, service robots, chatbots, etc.) by focusing on their effects on value creation, relationship outcomes, customer reactions and other related aspects. We welcome submissions focused on varied service environments (health, education, banking, tourism and hospitality, etc.), from different disciplinary backgrounds, such as sociology, psychology, marketing and management, among others. We particularly welcome multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary papers and studies using evidence based on data from any part of the globe. All theoretical and methodological (both qualitative & quantitative) approaches are equally appreciated.
Topics of Interest:
Topics of interest for the special issue include, but are not limited to:
- What are the efficiency benefits of using particular automated forms of interaction in services?
- What are the key factors (e.g. customer-based, service-related, technology-related…) influencing value creation through the use of automated forms of interaction?
- Is the use of automated service interactions more effective for retaining existing customers and attracting new customers?
- What are the main benefits and limitations of using a particular automated form of interaction in services?
- What type of services (B2B vs. B2C…) are most likely to benefit from automated service interactions?
- What type of service tasks or activities are more appropriate for automated forms of interaction?
- What is the influence of automated service interactions on customers’ frontline experiences and relationship outcomes (i.e. satisfaction, loyalty, engagement, profitability...)? What constructs (e.g. technology readiness…) moderate or mediate these relationships?
- What are the main customer reactions and perceptions about particular automated forms of interaction?
- Do customers trust automated forms of interaction?
- Are there any differences in the aforementioned relationships depending on the kind of automation? What kind of automation is preferred by customers?
- What are the main customer attributions to the introduction of service automation and how do they affect customer-provider relationships?
- How will automated service interactions affect employment and relationships with other actors?
- What service robot design is more appropriate?
- What is the role of the physical appearance (i.e. anthropomorphization) and social cognition (i.e. warmth, competence…) of service robots?
- How should service failures be managed in automated services?
- To what extent does the technology make customers feel the presence of another social entity (automated social presence)?
- How is AI affecting decision-making processes, data analysis, financial investments?
- Do automated forms of interaction progressively improve performance in specific service tasks? How is this machine learning process perceived by customers?
- What are the main ethical aspects arising from automated service interactions?
- What privacy concerns arise from the use of AI to analyse customer data?
Adoption of particular automated forms of interaction in services. Specific applications such as: new drone or robotized delivery options, financial robo-advisors, chatbots for communicating with customers, robots delivering room service in hotels, big data analysis based on AI, etc.
Researchers are invited to submit their full papers to the Special Issue “Automated forms of interaction in services: current trends, benefits and challenges” by October 20th, 2019 through the submission portal. Full instructions for authors are available. Publication is expected for July 2020.
Researchers are also invited to submit their work in progress or abstracts to the preparatory workshop “Artificial Intelligence and robotics in service interactions: trends, benefits and challenges” by sending a 1.000-word of their proposed paper by March 3rd, 2019 by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. This workshop will be celebrated in Zaragoza in July 8-9th, 2019.
The expected publication date for this special issue is July 2020.
- Carlos Flavian, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza (Spain).
- Luis V. Casaló, University of Zaragoza, Huesca (Spain).
- Professor Levent Altinay, Oxford Brookes University.
Huang, M. H. and Rust, R. T. (2018), “Artificial intelligence in service,” Journal of Service Research, forthcoming.
Jung, D., Dorner, V., Weinhardt, C. and Pusmaz, H. (2018), “Designing a robo-advisor for risk-averse, low-budget consumers,” Electronic Markets, 28 (3), 367-380.
Marinova, D., de Ruyter, K., Huang, M. H., Meuter, M. L. and Challagalla, G. (2017), “Getting smart: Learning from technology-empowered frontline interactions,” Journal of Service Research, 20 (1), 29-42.
Rafaeli, A., Altman, D., Gremler, D. D., Huang, M. H., Grewal, D., Iyer, B., Parasuraman, A. and de Ruyter, K. (2017). “The future of frontline research: Invited commentaries,” Journal of Service Research, 20 (1), 91-99.
Rosman, C. (2018), “Mad about erica: Why a million people use Bank of America’s chatbot,” American Banker, available at: https://www.americanbanker.com/news/mad-about-erica-why-a-million-people-use-bank-of-americas-chatbot (accessed 8 August 2018).
Van Doorn, J., Mende, M., Noble, S. M., Hulland, J., Ostrom, A. L., Grewal, D., and Petersen, J. A. (2017), “Domo arigato Mr. Roboto: Emergence of automated social presence in organizational frontlines and customers’ service experiences,” Journal of Service Research, 20 (1), 43-58.