Service with an E-smile: Employee authenticity and customer usage of web-based services
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Companies often go to great lengths to ensure that service representatives are friendly during their interactions with customers. Friendliness, however, is not always enough - customers must believe that employees are being authentic in their exchanges. Unfortunately, providing an authentic customer service experience becomes complicated when companies use web-based support services as a way to assist their customers. In this study, we seek to explain the effect customer judgments of service provider authenticity have on evaluations of webbased customer support services. Data collected from real users of a library e-reference (live-chat) service suggest that the perceived authenticity of online service representatives’ communications predicted patrons’ intentions to use the system again in the future. This main effect was mediated by patrons’ perceptions of the service encounter as well as of the web-based support system itself.