On-Site PhD conferral Michelle M.E. van Pinxteren
Supervisor: Prof. dr. Jos G.A.M. Lemmink
Co-supervisor: Dr. Mark Pluymaekers, Zuyd Hogeschool
Key words: conversational agents, service interactions, relationship marketing, chatbots
"Enhancing Service Interactions with Conversational Agents"
In recent years, technological developments have radically changed the nature of services. Technology is increasingly being used to replace or support human service employees. This has advantages for customers and service providers. The deployment of so-called conversational agents is one of the most important ways in which service providers can use technology to support or replace human service employees.
Conversational agents (chatbots, virtual service agents, and robots) are automated conversation partners that mimic human communicative behaviour. There is growing evidence that appearance characteristics and communicative behaviours that positively influence customer perceptions in service interactions with human service agents are also effective when applied by conversational agents. As a result, conversational agents offer the possibility to replace human employees without losing the human touch.
However, the addition of these human communicative behaviours does not always have a positive effect on the user's perceptions. To better understand how human communicative behaviour in conversational agents can have a positive effect on user perception, this thesis investigated the question 'how human is desirable?’. The results showed that the effects of using human communicative behaviours by conversational agents depend on the user's needs, the service context, and the stage in the interaction.