Virtual agents (VAs) are used increasingly as representatives of the firm in retail and service settings–particularly in online environments. Existing studies indicate that the customer’s experience is enhanced if VAs resemble humans, which seems to imply that what has been learned over the years in research about the influence of the human employee’s behavior on customer satisfaction may be applicable also to VA behavior. This study explores one factor, effort, which has a positive impact on customer satisfaction when it characterizes the human employee in service encounters. Although a VA (i.e., a computer program) cannot experience effort, it was assumed that human sensitivity to other humans’ effort, and a tendency to anthropomorphize non-human agents, would make human customers susceptible to effort-expending signals when they interact with a VA. To examine this assumption, data were collected from customers who had been interacting with existing VAs. The results indicate that three specific behaviors (engaging in personal conversation, listening, and display of warmth) boost the customer’s perceptions of VA effort, and that perceived VA effort has a positive impact on customer satisfaction.
|Referentgranskad vetenskaplig tidskrift||International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research|
|Status||Publicerad - 01.03.2022|
|MoE-publikationstyp||A1 Originalartikel i en vetenskaplig tidskrift|
- 512 Företagsekonomi