How does information technology– based service degradation influence consumers’ use of services? An information technology–based service degradation decision theory

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Information technology is crucial for modern services. Service delivery may include a complex mix of information technology and telecommunication providers, global networks and customers’ information technology devices. This research focuses on service failures that are caused by information technology problems, which we conceptualize as information technology–based service degradation (ITSD). When information technology–based service degradation occurs in a modern service, the information technology problem may originate from the service provider, another partner or any information technology equipment involved. But the customer may not be able to pinpoint the source of the problem immediately. We argue that existing research can only partially explain customers’ behavior following information technology–based service degradation; current research cannot account for the way in which information technology characteristics in information technology–based service degradation influence customers’ decisions to continue using or rejecting the service. To fulfill this gap, we interviewed information technology–based services’ customers. Our interviews suggest that the reasons affecting customers’ behavior may change and have differing importance during the information technology–based service degradation experience. We theorized the information technology–based service degradation experience into five stages: blaming, bypassing, tolerating, abandoning and overcoming. The first two stages contain stage-specific factors influencing the progression of service usage, and the final three stages contain stage-specific factors that matter in the decision to use or quit the service. As a new contribution, we propose a stage theory for explaining customers’ behavior following information technology–based service degradation. Our results outline new research directions in information technology–based service degradation, including further testing and refinement of our proposed theory in the case of different services. For service providers, our findings provide new information for improving service recovery strategies to keep customers engaged.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-24
JournalJournal of Information Technology
Issue number1
Early online date21 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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