In regard to the roles of SSTs to service retailers, it performs a linkage of technology with customers. In recent years, the advance of technology has stimulated the grown of customers using technology. To catch up with the growing technology dimension in service provision, Parasuraman proposed a pyramid model of services marketing by extending Kotler’s triangle model of services marketing. Triangle model of services marketing refers to external marketing between company and customers, internal marketing between company and employees, and interactive marketing between employees and customers. External marketing-activities belongs to product, price, promotion, place which are emphasized in the marketing of goods. Internal marketing is related to company should treat service employees as internal customers and provide suitable training and motivation to them, and so that employees would serve customers well. And, interactive marketing refers to manage interactions between employees and customers.
As information technologies play an increasingly important role in serving customers, the triangle model needs to be supplemented by a new component reflecting the current proliferation of technology in the marketing process. Parasuraman (1996) proposed an enhanced pyramid model with technology as a third dimension. The pyramid model includes three linkages, which included company-technology, technology-employee, and technology-customer. It indicated that technology in the service industry was increasingly unavoidable. Thus, a combination of SST channels provided by retailers can link up the technology with customers as SSTs are technological interfaces that enable customers to produce a service independent of direct service employee involvement.
Second, SSTs allow customers to get optimal service experience by themselves. It has changed the way that how customers interact with firm. Through using a wide range of SSTs, customers can engage in service co-production technologically to replace the services which produce by employees directly. Some examples of SSTs include automated teller machines (ATMs), automated hotel and airline check-in or check-out, banking by telephone and services over the Internet.
For instance, almost half of the retail banking transactions are now conducted without the assistance of a bank teller (Lawrence and Karr1996). The appearance of automated teller machines (ATMs) allow customers access their bank accounts in order to make cash withdrawals, debit card cash advances, check their account balances or make the bill payment. At the same time, online banking systems also allow customers to transact banking tasks through online banking. Thus, SSTs enable customers to produce service by their own instead of the direct service from service employees in order to get the optimal services.
In regard to the benefits of SSTs to service retailers, cost reduction on labor cost is one of the significant benefits. Rising Labor costs have encouraged companies to explore more self-service options that allow customers to perform services for their own. As SSTs allow customers to...