Customer Responses to Service Robots – Comparing Human-Robot Interaction with Human-Human Interaction

AbstractThis paper investigates how service failures affect customers by comparing human-robot interactions with human-human interactions. More specifically, it compares customers’ satisfaction in a service robot interaction depending on a service failure with the customers’ satisfaction in a frontline service employee interaction. On a theoretical basis, extant literature on the uncanny valley paradigm proposed that service robots would create lower satisfaction than human frontline employees would. However, I find that service robots could keep up with human frontline employees. Based on an extensive literature research on service failures, I propose that customer satisfaction after a service failure declines far less for a human frontline employee compared with a service robot. Nevertheless, I find evidence that service robots create even higher customer satisfaction than human frontline employees after the exactly similar service failure. I base my findings on an experimental laboratory study with 120 student participants and the service robot “Pepper” from Softbank Corp.

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