Purpose: This paper aims to examine communication channels for in-home service provision. In particular, it aims to focus on the joint effect of two converging trends: the increase of in-home services involving high degrees of customer participation;and the extension of the number of channels that service firms use to communicate with customers. It seeks to assess which benefits customers desire of communication channels across in-home service production formats and how these benefit desires determine their communication channel consideration for in-home services. Design/methodology/approach: Based on a literature review a conceptual framework was constructed. Using the association pattern technique (APT), a survey of 383 customers of a Dutch energy company was carried out. The APT enabled the authors to quantify the relationship between participative in-home service provision situations, desired communication channel benefits, and communication channel consideration. Findings: Results show that customers focus more strongly on functionally- and economically-oriented communication channel benefits in high customer participation service formats. In contrast, socially-oriented communication channel benefits seem more appropriate when low customer participation in the provision of in-home services is involved. The match between benefits desired by the customer and benefits provided by a communication channel is identified as a central mechanism behind communication channel consideration for in-home services. Furthermore, evidence is found for customer heterogeneity in desired communication channel benefits and channel consideration, based on age, education, and past channel usage. Originality/value: This paper contributes to the multichannel knowledge base by hypothesizing and demonstrating how specific benefit desires arise from allowing/requiring customers to participate in in-home service provision. The study also provides valuable insight into the mechanism behind communication channel consideration by customers during in-home service provision.

Communication channel consideration, Communication systems (buildings), Consumer behaviour, Cost-benefit analysis, Customer participation, In-home services, Multichannel, Service benefits
dx.doi.org/10.1108/09564231211226123, hdl.handle.net/1765/38063
Journal of Service Management
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

van Birgelen, M, Dellaert, B.G.C, & de Ruyter, K. (2012). Communication channel consideration for in-home services: The moderating role of customer participation. Journal of Service Management (Vol. 23, pp. 216–252). doi:10.1108/09564231211226123