Service robots, customers and service employees: what can we learn from the academic literature and where are the gaps?

Vinh Nhat Lu*, Jochen Wirtz, Werner H. Kunz, Stefanie Paluch, Thorsten Gruber, Antje Martins, Paul G. Patterson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

267 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: Robots are predicted to have a profound impact on the service sector. The emergence of robots has attracted increasing interest from business scholars and practitioners alike. In this article, we undertake a systematic review of the business literature about the impact of service robots on customers and employees with the objective of guiding future research. Design/methodology/approach: We analyzed the literature on service robots as they relate to customers and employees in business journals listed in the Financial Times top 50 journals plus all journals covered in the cross-disciplinary SERVSIG literature alerts. Findings: The analysis of the identified studies yielded multiple observations about the impact of service robots on customers (e.g. overarching frameworks on acceptance and usage of service robots; characteristics of service robots and anthropomorphism; and potential for enhanced and deteriorated service experiences) and service employees (e.g. employee benefits such as reduced routine work, enhanced productivity and job satisfaction; potential negative consequences such as loss of autonomy and a range of negative psychological outcomes; opportunities for human–robot collaboration; job insecurity; and robot-related up-skilling and development requirements). We also conclude that current research on service robots is fragmented, is largely conceptual in nature and focused on the initial adoption stage. We feel that more research is needed to build an overarching theory. In addition, more empirical research is needed, especially on the long(er)-term usage service robots on actual behaviors, the well-being and potential downsides and (ethical) risks for customers and service employees. Research limitations/implications: Our review focused on the business and service literature. Future work may want to include additional literature streams, including those in computer science, engineering and information systems. Originality/value: This article is the first to synthesize the business and service literature on the impact of service robots on customers and employees.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Service Theory and Practice
Volume30
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)361-391
Number of pages31
ISSN2055-6225
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31.07.2020
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal

Keywords

  • 512 Business and Management
  • AI
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Customers
  • Literature analysis
  • Service employees
  • Service robots

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