Recent advances in technology have created a surge in “technology-based self-service” (Dabholkar et al. 2003). Such developments are changing the way that service firms and consumers interact, and are raising a host of research and practice issues relating to the delivery of e-service. E-service is becoming increasingly important not only in determining the success or failure of electronic commerce (Yang et al., 2001), but also in providing consumers with a superior experience with respect to the interactive flow of information (Santos, 2003).
Online service delivery is very different from service delivery through other channels, whether they be “bricks” channels, as is often the case for retailing, post and mail order, telephone, or “on location” as for many leisure experiences. E-service can be usefully conceptualized as an interactive information service. Information provided by or collected from and about customers can be gathered and analyzed by the e-service provider, and used as the basis for the customization of the service that the organization offers to the customer. In addition, the online service experience integrates service delivery and marketing communications, both of which are achieved through exchange of information (Ghosh et al., 2004).
Service quality has been recognised as having the potential to deliver strategic benefits, such as improved customer retention rates, whilst also enhancing operational efficiency and profitability (Cronin, 2003; Rust et al. 1995; Zeithaml, 2000). Oliveira et al. (2002) suggest that e-service quality is amongst a firm’s competitive capabilities that lead to business performance, Roth and Menor (2003) see issues in implementing service technology and e-services as critical in service operations, and Al-Hawari andWard (2006) demonstrates that service quality impacts on customer satisfaction which in turn affects the financial performance of banks. The
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