Service industries are utilizing advanced information technologies, like the Internet, to improve the efficiency, reduce cost, and most importantly for providing customer with better service. All customer interaction happens at back end where various analytics is done through the use of technology. Across range of industries computer technology are being extensively used to improve market place exchanges in a variety of service settings. Apart from being so useful technology can sometimes be very hostile this can happen because of malfunction or break down. Use of Internet can potentially reduce cost on as per transaction that happens with customer but bad on line experience can severely damage customer satisfaction and customer loyalty towards service provider. Therefore concept of customer contact is an integral part of service operations management (SOM). Customer contact is generally considered to be a function of contact between customer and service provider.
Image Source: Adapted from
C.M. Froehle, A.V. Roth / Journal of Operations Management 22 (2004) 1–21
Technology-Free Customer Contact
In this Service representative of the firm directly interact with the customer. It is a typical traditional notion of face to face interaction where technology doesn’t play any role.
Example: physiatrist giving consultation to their customer.
Technology Assisted Customer Contact
In this form of face to face customer contact, the service representative of the firm interacts directly with the customer and uses technology to improve the interaction with the customer. In this form of interaction customer is not given any technological access.
Example: Airline check in where the service representative has the access to a computer terminal but the customer doesn’t.
Technology Facilitated Customer Contact
In this form of face to face customer contact, both the service representative of the firm as well as customer has access to technology which is used to enhance the interaction.
Example: Client meetings in an office both the party has technology access to better explain their points.
Technology Mediated Customer Contact
In this form of face to screen customer contact, service representative of the firm and customer interact through the use of some technology. Customer service representative initiate a call or online messaging from back office to interact with the customer.
Example: Employees at Call center calling customers and asking for their feedback
Technology Generated Customer Contact
In this form of face to screen customer contact, customer service representative of the firm is entirely replaced by technology. This method requires a lot technology.
Example: ATM machine interacts with customer on the method of its usage.
Some of these models facilitate interaction with technology, and some with the service provider, during the consumption of the service.