Virtual Onscreen Assistants: a Viable Strategy to Support Online Customer Relationship Building?

Kathy Keeling, Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, UK
Peter McGoldrick, Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, UK
Susan Beatty, University of Manchester, UK
The benefits of customer-salesperson relationships are difficult to obtain on retail websites when the interaction lacks direct human contact. This study verifies an association between the presence of a virtual Onscreen Assistant (OSA) and perceptions of functional and social relational benefits by potential customers. This has not previously been established. A theoretical model of relationships between relational benefit perceptions, trust building and patronage expectations is derived and tested. There is considerable potential for OSA use to build relational benefit perceptions but participants were only moderately positive about present OSA capabilities. Substantial technological development is still needed to support social interaction.
[ to cite ]:
Kathy Keeling, Peter McGoldrick, and Susan Beatty (2007) ,"Virtual Onscreen Assistants: a Viable Strategy to Support Online Customer Relationship Building?", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 34, eds. Gavan Fitzsimons and Vicki Morwitz, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 138-144.