Your company may have made a major investment in Self Service Technologies (SSTs), but how well do you understand why your customers have used the technology you have created for them – or, more importantly, why they haven’t? Most of the research related to SSTs, such as ATMs or receiving service support on-line, has focused on the features of the SST itself rather than on the attitudes of the users. Some recent research by CSL Affiliated faculty member, Matt Meuter and his associates, delves into the attitudes of the customers themselves that motivate them to use – or refuse to use – SSTs.

Developing a marketing strategy that takes strategic advantage of those attitudes is critical to the successful implementation of your SST. The researchers found that the trickiest thing in understanding why customers adopt SSTs is that a variety of attitudes come into play and intertwine with one another.

A customer may love your company, but fear technology in general. A customer may love SSTs in general, but have a less than enchanted attitude about your specific service.

A customer may love SSTs, but may be so pleased with interacting with your employees, he may still be reluctant to change his ways. The challenge is to figure out which attitude trumps the others and play to the one that will get them to switch to the SST.

Here are some insights from the researchers for you to keep in mind:

Consider the experience level of your customers. The research indicated that the less experienced a customer is in general with SSTs, the more likely they were to view all SSTs negatively and were therefore less likely to switch. If your customers are not techno-savvy, your marketing message will want to emphasize the ease of your type of SST in general more than the merits of your specific service. Consider the interplay of all your service delivery options. The research indicated that your customer contact strategy will be most effective when it includes a close integration between interpersonal and technologically based service delivery channels. Integrating the SST delivery channels with strategic interpersonal channels is your best bet. Consider what your particular SST does particularly well. This is Marketing 101. If you can provide clear evidence that your SST gives them something they can’t get by any other means, you can give the most techno-phobic among us the impetus to change. Consider the basics Of course, you’ll need to keep monitoring and testing your technology to make sure it works as not to further perpetuate anyone’s negative attitudes toward SST.

To order the full article, please contact Sage Publications, 2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320 or (800) 818-SAGE. The full citation is: Curran, James M. Matthew L. Meuter, and Carol F. Surprenant (2003) “Intentions to Use Self-Service Technologies: A Confluence of Multiple Attitudes,” Journal of Service Research, 5 (3), 209-244.