An investigation into the online customer experience

Graeme McLean, Alan Wilson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Purpose
The online customer experience (OCE) has received much attention over recent years within the marketing domain, particularly when it comes to the online shopping environment. This paper explores the online customer experience in relation to government provision of business support information. The aim of this research is to understand the variables that can influence customers searching for business support information and to explore the potential mediating role of social interaction during search. This study provides a coherent theoretical framework outlining the variables that influence the online customer experience within the business support environment.

Design/methodology/approach
Semi-structured in-depth interviews and an online experiment were conducted to meet the requirements of the research. 94 businesses were approached to take part in the in-depth interviews, of which all had searched for business support information on an economic development agency’s website within the last 30 days.14 in-depth interviews were conducted in total from the sample frame. Following the in-depth interviews an online experiment was conducted with 100 participants on three selected business support websites. Three tasks were set up for participants to complete on each website. Participants were given a business scenario and information to find. In addition, three help cards were issued to participants that could be used to illustrate where social interaction would have been beneficial. Help cards were symbolic in nature, no actual help was provided. Data was collected through an online survey immediately after the completion of each task.

Findings
This paper finds Website Aesthetics, Control, Flow, Website Credibility, Information Quality, Time and Customer Emotions as variables with the potential to influence the customer experience. The research outlines the potential mediating role of social interaction in aiding a customer’s search. The findings suggest that practitioners and governments operating in the area of business support should pay attention to the variables outlined in this paper. In addition it is important that practitioners act to provide a website that allows businesses to quickly seek an answer to their information query. Practitioners ought to note that live chat functions or active calls to action that allow communication between the business and the website provider may help to provide the required optimum experience.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationQUIS14 Conference Service Excellence in Management
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Research Symposium on Service Excellence in Management - Shanghai, China
Duration: 18 Jun 201521 Jun 2015
Conference number: 14

Conference

ConferenceInternational Research Symposium on Service Excellence in Management
Abbreviated titleQUIS14
CountryChina
CityShanghai
Period18/06/1521/06/15

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Keywords

  • Online customer experience
  • Social interaction
  • Online services
  • Business support

Cite this

McLean, G., & Wilson, A. (2015). An investigation into the online customer experience. In QUIS14 Conference Service Excellence in Management