Making the customer the co-producer : A critical incident study on customer satisfaction and self-service channel choice in commercial air travel

University essay from Karlstads universitet/Fakulteten för ekonomi, kommunikation och IT


This thesis is based on a case study of an airline’s (Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)) customers’ views on self-service technologies for check-in; mobile check-in, internet check-in, and machine (kiosk) check-in. The first aim of the paper was to find sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction in the airline industry. A number of critical incidents leading to satisfactory and dissatisfactory experiences have been categorized by using the critical incident technique method based on customers’ recalls of past events. Main sources of satisfaction were the SSTs ability to provide a more efficient service by time savings, avoiding queues and by providing increased customer control. Main sources of dissatisfaction were related to technology failure such as malfunctioning machines, technical design problems and service design problems due to unclear role clarity among customers caused by lack of information and trust in own abilities.

Second aim of the study was to identify a number of variables affecting SST channel selection. Qualitative interviews revealed following main variables affecting channel choice: accessibility, awareness, lack of trust, and perceived channel efficiency. Findings have been discussed from the perspective of models used in present research such as the consumer readiness model and trusting intentions model so that future researchers can identify and use valid models for understanding SST channel adoption and satisfaction drivers in the flight industry. Hands on managerial implications are provided in the closing part of the paper.

Originality: The thesis show industry specific satisfaction and dissatisfaction causes that differ from previous research. Second contribution is the development and classification of factors in groups that influence the SST channel choice for check-in at airports. Finally the paper shows that none of the current models for use intention can independently be used to fully explain choice of channel.

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