Technology-based self-service and its impact on service firm performance : a resource-based perspective

Abstract: Improving productivity is crucial for service firms to be competitive. To have customers perform certain tasks normally undertaken by employees is an important means to achieving this objective. With the aid of technology, the scale and scope of self-service has significantly increased in recent years. Despite the size and importance of technology-based self-service (TBSS) investments in service firms, the absence of empirical studies on TBSS and its impact on company performance has resulted in a significant gap in knowledge. The aim of this thesis therefore was to increase our understanding of this important research area. Drawing from a resource-based view, this thesis proposed a framework that shows how firm resources and capabilities are leveraged via customer performing self-service to deliver superior value to employees, customers and/or business owners. To ground the research, three Swedish TBSS case studies (i.e., SAS self- check-in, Nordea Net Bank, and ICA self-scanning) were conducted. The findings of these case studies helped further refine the framework and a more elaborate model illustrating the impact of TBSS on firm performance was proposed. To test this model, a survey was conducted to understand self-scanning system and its impact on firm performance. Questionnaires were sent to managers and employees at ICA and Coop, the two biggest food chain stores in Sweden. The results of the survey show that employee training and dynamic capabilities of the service provider are crucial to the success of self- scanning implementation. TBSS promotion was found to have no relationship with customer usage and weak relationship with accuracy of customer performing self-service. Furthermore, improved service quality, rather than reduction of labor costs, was found to be the primary value of self- scanning in Swedish retail food stores. Finally, employees and customers are positively affected by using TBSS, although the impact on financial performance is hard to pin down.