Technology is rapidly changing the nature of service, customers’ service frontline experiences, and customers’ relationships with service providers. Based on the prediction that in the marketplace of 2025, technology (e.g., service-providing humanoid robots) will be melded into numerous service experiences, this article spotlights technology’s ability to engage customers on a social level as a critical advancement of technology infusions. Specifically, it introduces the novel concept of automated social presence (ASP; i.e., the extent to which technology makes customers feel the presence of another social entity) to the services literature. The authors develop a typology that highlights different combinations of automated and human social presence in organizational frontlines and indicates literature gaps, thereby emphasizing avenues for future research. Moreover, the article presents a conceptual framework that focuses on (a) how the relationship between ASP and several key service and customer outcomes is mediated by social cognition and perceptions of psychological ownership as well as (b) three customer-related factors that moderate the relationship between ASP and social cognition and psychological ownership (i.e., a customer’s relationship orientation, tendency to anthropomorphize, and technology readiness). Finally, propositions are presented that can be a catalyst for future work to enhance the understanding of how technology infusion, particularly service robots, influences customers’ frontline experiences in the future.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Information Systems
- Sociology and Political Science
- Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management