Self Service and Inter-Customer Interactions: Blame Attribution, Responsibility Assignment, Perceived Service Quality and Repeat Purchasing Intentions

Mei Li, Arizona State University
Thomas Choi, Arizona State University
Elliot Rabinovich, Arizona State University
Aaron Crawford, Arizona State University

Inter-customer interactions play a significant role in the management of retail service operations. Our study takes place in a retail self-service setting where the service provider is not directly involved in the service operations (i.e., self-service terminals). Our research shows that fellow customers can exert influence on a focal customer’s quality perception and repeat purchasing intentions. When negative inter-customer interaction occurs, how much a focal customer holds the service provider to be accountable leads to reduced service quality perception and reduced repeat purchasing intentions. However, this relationship does not hold when there is a positive inter-customer interaction. When positive inter-customer interaction occurs, how much a focal customer assigns responsibility to the service provider does not translate into enhanced service quality perception or repeat purchasing intention. Such counter-intuitive results give service providers specific strategies on how to actively manage their customers to be efficient technology users and encourage collaboration among customers.