Face –to-Face Encounters vs Technological Service Delivery

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Face –to-Face Encounters
Versus Technological Service Delivery;
An Analysis
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Introduction

There are many benefits as well as possible drawbacks to service delivery that rely solely on technology. With today’s advances in technology almost any customer service option that is offered through a face-to-face service encounter, can also be offered through a technology based service encounter. The only aspect of customer service that isn’t available through technology is the tangible aspects that are experienced inside a store, including face-to-face contact with service personnel. There are pros and cons as well as risks associated with both service models, and given a certain situation, one model might be more appropriate to meet a customers needs. In this paper, I will be analyzing service delivery through technology, and comparing it to the face-to-face service delivery model, and showing how and why both can be effective depending on the needs of the customer.

Customer Needs

When identifying which model of service delivery is a better choice for customers, it is necessary to define the dimensions of service quality that are most important to the customer. There are often times that one or two are the most important, and a few others that fall in rank order. If a customer places convenience at the top of the list, then doing business with technology might be the better option for that customer. However, if the customer isn’t pressed for time and tangible aspects are more important to a customer, they might choose to go to the store to have a face-to-face encounter. Any type of self service technology requires the customer to take on some of the work that was previously conducted by store employees, for this reason, the service must provide ease of access, cost savings, or some other benefit to ensure customer satisfaction with the service.

Benefits of Technological Service Delivery for Service Providers

Technological service encounters (TSE) have benefits for customers, but they also have benefits for the service provider. The first would be cost savings. For example, if there is no physical location, then the space that is used to sell and interact with the customer is all “virtual space.” In this case, there wouldn’t be facilities costs such as rent and heating, ect. You could also cut the costs required to pay a staff for all hours of operation, or facilities maintenance. Instead, these people could be replaced by well designed technology, and a person to do any technology maintenance when it is needed.

In face-to-face encounters, the satisfaction of the customer is dependant on employee ability. Aspects that could affect the encounter could be the competence, courtesy, approachability, responsiveness, and communication skills of the employee. TSE eliminate the risk of depending on a person to do all of these things well. There is also no pressure, time wasted, and no extra cost that is experienced when hiring and training new personnel. If the TSE is designed well, then a company can rely on the technology to do a perfect job of these things. The company would just have to keep in mind that if anything goes wrong with the technology, they would need to hire someone for technology maintenance or customer support.

Offering online services enables a company to reach customers nationally or internationally. In the case of face-to-face service encounters, it isn’t possible to sell to customers that are far away from the physical store. Having a national or global customer base means more sales. This is another benefit of the TSE model to Service providers.

Benefits of TSE to Customers

The biggest benefit of TSE to customers is the fact that is easily accessible, and convenient. These days a person can shop, do their banking, rent online books and movies, and entertain themselves, all in the comfort of their home. TSE allows a person to save...
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