" Technology and the customer role"
In Canada, the service industry contributes significantly to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and creates employment. Services are unique due to the quality of inseparability in production and delivery taking place simultaneously. More importantly, it is during this stage that the customer participates in the service process by contributing effort or information, making the customer an important part of the process. In recent years, service providers faced with high labour costs have considered alternative methods of service delivery. These alternative methods usually require the customer to participate in the service process more. Also, advances in technology have allowed some service providers to consider the implementation of self-service options where almost all of the service process is performed by the customer. Such delivery options can be found in retail banking where the customers can choose between ATM's or tellers or in the grocery industry in order to perform certain transactions.
These alternative delivery forms vary in the amount of participation required from the customer.
Since service customers often take on the role of partial employees during the service encounter, it is important for the service organization to devise strategies to manage not only their full-time employees but also their partial employees/customers.
Customer Participation and Perceived Service Quality
Participation can be defined as the "specific behaviours, degree of consumer's effort and involvement both mental and physical which relate to the production and delivery of services" (Cermak, 1994). Cermak argued that due to inseparability, "customers are inescapably involved in the service process". Previous theories on customer participation in services have claimed that due to the high risk found in services, customers will participate in the service process in order to reduce the magnitude of adverse consequences and increase the chances of a positive outcome (Silpakit...