Techno-Service-Profit Chain: The Impacts of IoT-Enabled Algorithmic Customer Service Systems from an Interdisciplinary Perspective


Publication History

Received: January 15, 2020
Revised: January 9, 2021; January 20, 2022; November 24, 2022; August 1, 2023
Accepted: August 10, 2023
Published Online as Articles in Advance: Forthcoming
Published Online in Issue: Forthcoming


The infusion of emerging technologies (e.g., IoT-enabled algorithmic customer service systems [IACSs]) often brings disruptive changes to customer service. In particular, the agentic nature of these technologies challenges prominent service theories. Among these challenges, recent scholarly calls have  pushed for more research on the infusion of emerging technologies into the service-profit chain (SPC) framework, advocating the importance of extended knowledge to develop a techno-infused version of the SPC. Thus, from an interdisciplinary perspective, we draw upon the role theory and propose a techno-service-profit chain (TSPC). Specifically, we contextualize the SPC in the techno-service context with different approaches, including decomposing context-specific constructs and theorizing IACS implementation as a contextual factor that moderates TSPC relationships. Using a sequential mixedmethod design combining quantitative and qualitative approaches, we test our research model by conducting multi-wave surveys and follow-up interviews in a large business-to-business service firm with data from employees, supervisors, and customers before and after IACS implementation. This interdisciplinary study contributes to the information systems, service marketing, and management literatures by enriching the compositions of core SPC constructs, theorizing interactions between human agents and technology agents, and scrutinizing the impacts of technology agents on the linkages between internal employee management and external customer service. Our results further reveal the emerging issues of competing bosses (i.e., supervisors and IACSs), competing employees (i.e., employees and IACSs), and the unintended dehumanization effects of IACSs on supervisors and employees.

Additional Details
Author Liwei Chen, J. J. Po-An Hsieh, and Kimmy Chan
Keywords Techno-service-profit chain, algorithmic systems, Internet of Things, customer service, role theory, dehumanization, competing agents, the future of work, interdisciplinary approach
Page Numbers
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