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Face-to-face service encounters provide an excellent environment for handling complex life situations and find a solution for a client, e.g., find the right mortgage model for her situation, work out a plan for her new property in accordance with the building regulations, or support her at finding new position and avoiding unemployment. Advisory service encounters are currently evolving more rapidly than even before. On the one hand, those changes are consequences of regulatory efforts for consumer protection. On the other hand, the workplace digitalization is accelerating and comprises more and more areas, including those which are traditionally considered emotional and human, i.e., “high touch” as opposite to “high tech”, such as counselling. Additionally, the unlimited access to Internet-based information sources and self-service forces the traditional service encounters to change. Traditional service encounters oriented at information provision get less and less attractive to an advisee in a standard situation – she can easily find the relevant data online and engage in self-service. However, in complex situations individual service encounters might help finding the right way through the vast and often contradictory information provided online. Extensive efforts have been made to provide effective IT-support to human-based service encounters.
Even though the systems might have been developed in line with well-defined rationales and under participation of their users, little is known of how they are actually used in practice. A system might empower an advisor to provide more effective services or it may constrain him. An advisor might use the system in accordance with the design intention, develop his own practices or workarounds, as well as refrain from using it altogether. A client may be receptive to the new type of advisory service and, e.g., feel more persuaded to implement the advice, or might refuse it for being unpersonal or inadequate. Finally, the service provider organization might experience essential process changes affecting the documentation and processing of cases even though the system seemingly affects just the frontline employees. Understanding the implications of technology in advisory services requires a longitudinal and practice-oriented research.
This project attends to the practices that emerge during and upon the roll-out of advisory service support systems in public administration as well as in financial industry. This leads to the identification of the most effective training approaches and dissemination concepts. Additionally, thanks to the longitudinal collaboration with dedicated partners, the research produces insights on the advisors’ emerging work practices and on the clients’ evolving perception of the new services. Overall, the research generates a deeper insight for practices and service science research and produces practical guidance for service organizations.