Joy M. Field, Boston College
Mei Xue, Boston College
Lorin M. Hitt, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

As customers become more involved in executing service tasks, service performance is increasingly reliant on the efficiency and effectiveness of this customer co-production. While organizational and employee learning have been extensively studied, learning by customers in their role as co-producers is largely unexplored. To explore how customers learn to be better co-producers, we examine whether learning channels and customer characteristics impact the customer learning rate. Using longitudinal panel data consisting of 954 customers who adopted and used a bank’s online banking product over a 12-month period, we find that service delivery channels can have dual effects on customer learning, acting as learning channels to accelerate customer learning and/or impeding learning through channel substitution. In addition, customers’ experiences working on related technology-mediated tasks and absorptive capacity increase their learning rate. Overall, our results suggest that customer learning can be designed into the service delivery system by encouraging the use of channels with complementary learning effects and discouraging channel substitution.


This article appeared in: Field, J.M., M. Xue, and L.M. Hitt (2012). “Learning by Customers as Co-producers in Financial Services: An Empirical Study of the Effects of Learning Channels and Customer Characteristics,” Operations Management Research, 5(1), 43-56.