Organisations are digitising the customer journey at a fast pace but have no idea what the effects of digitisation will be on customer experience and customer relationships. This paper describes two studies on digitisation in customer contact and the effects on customer experience and customer relationships. The first study examines how a relatively new medium, such as chat, relates to more a traditional medium such as the telephone. The second study examines the effects of re-directing customers from a traditional channel like telephone to the internet.
The research described in this paper was designed to measure these effects of digitisation on customer experience and customer relationships.
Findings show that customers have a more positive customer experience when they use a digital channel like chat than when they use a traditional channel like phone, regardless of whether they have a simple or a complex question. The use of a digital channel does not have an impact on the customer relationship. Channel direction, however, has a negative impact on customer experience but also does not have an impact on the relationship.
Our research shows that the use of digital channels like chat, unlike what people often think, do not necessarily have to lead to a deterioration of customer experience. In certain cases, the use of digital channels will lead to an improvement of customer experience. The research results also show that neither the used communication-medium nor a restriction of freedom of choice have a significant influence on the relational models.
The most important contribution of this paper to the scientific literature is that it provides a deeper insight into the effects of some aspects of digitisation on customer experience and customer relationships. It also provides insight into the applicability of relational models in existing customer–supplier relationships.