E-Service and the Consumer

Roland T. Rust and Katherine N. Lemon
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 5, Number 3, Spring 2001, pp. 85.

Abstract: Many Internet applications do not fully utilize the unique nature of the Web, which in its purest form involves interactive, personalized information service. The true nature of the Web, here termed e-service, will be the key to marketing most effectively to the consumer, for it is the logical continuation of a 100-year trend toward information service in the economy. This paper examines the aspects of e-service that are critical in effectively interacting with consumers in interactive, networked information environments like the Internet. It discusses three central changes brought about by the advent of the Internet (true interactivity with the consumer, customer-specific, situational personalization, and the opportunity for real-time adjustments to a firm’s offering to customers), as well as changes in consumer expectations regarding firm service strategies that flow from these developments. Based upon these changes in technology and consumer expectations, important elements of the e-service experience are defined. The paper concludes by showing how e-service strategies will play a significant role in growing the overall value of the firm. In each of these areas, a set of research questions is proposed that will lead to a stronger understanding of e-service and consumer behavior.

Key Words and Phrases: E-service, personalization, self-service.