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Reducing deviant consumer behaviour with service robot guardians

Dootson, Paula, Greer, Dominique, Letheren, Kate and Daunt, Kate ORCID: 2023. Reducing deviant consumer behaviour with service robot guardians. Journal of Services Marketing 37 (3) , pp. 276-286. 10.1108/JSM-11-2021-0400

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Purpose The purpose of this research is to understand whether service robots can safeguard servicescapes from deviant consumer behaviour. Using routine activity theory, this research examines whether increasing the perceived humanness of service robots reduces customer intentions to commit deviant consumer behaviour and whether this negative relationship is mediated by perceived empathy and perceived risk of being caught. Design/methodology/approach Five hundred and fifty-three US residents responded to a hypothetical scenario that manipulated the humanness of a service agent (from self-service technology, to robot, to human employee) across seven conditions and measured the likelihood of deviant consumer behaviour, empathy towards the service robot, perceived risk of being caught and punished and negative attitudes towards robots. Findings The results indicate that replacing human service agents with different types of service robots does inadvertently reduce customer perceptions of capable guardianship (i.e. the human element that deters potential offenders from committing crimes) in the servicescape and creates conditions that allow customers to perpetrate more deviant consumer behaviour. Practical implications When investing in technology such as service robots, service providers need to consider the unintended cost of customer misbehaviour (specifically deviant consumer behaviour) in their return-on-investment assessments to optimise their asset investment decisions. Originality/value Moving beyond research on customer adoption and use, this research examines the unintended consequences that might arise when deploying service robots in a technology-infused service environment. Humanised service robots offer more guardianship than self-service technology but do not replace human employees in preventing deviant consumer behaviour, as they remain more capable of deterring customer misbehaviour.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: Emerald
ISSN: 0887-6045
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 March 2022
Date of Acceptance: 23 March 2022
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2023 19:54

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