[We’re pleased to welcome authors Simon Hazée, Cécile Delcourt, and Yves Van Vaerenbergh who recently published an article in the Journal of Service Research entitled “Burdens of Access: Understanding Customer Barriers and Barrier-Attenuating Practices in Access-Based Services.” Below, the authors share more insight on their research in the service industry:]
What motivated you to pursue this research? We are witnessing a global rise of what’s been called ‘the access economy’. This growth is yet mainly driven by an increasing supply, with lots of companies—including manufacturers like BMW or Daimler AG—offering services that grant customers limited access to goods. Although these services offer several potential advantages, convincing customers to use them remains challenging. Service innovation failures represent potential losses of revenues that can even endanger firms’ competitiveness; indicating the pressing need to understand the barriers that keep customers from participating in the access economy.
Were there any surprising findings? Customers face several important barriers for why they don’t participate in the access economy, and these barriers do not always have rational grounds. For instance, one striking observation is that customers are afraid of contamination. After all, when accessing goods, you know for sure that someone else—whom you do not know—has touched the product; this may create disgust and avoidance responses. Another surprising finding is that customers believe they must engage in a bunch of practices to attenuate the barriers themselves. For example, customers must be ready to alter or postpone their needs to counter the fact that goods might not be available when needed, an important barrier perceived by customers.
Interestingly, although engaging in such practices helps attenuating barriers, customers also consider them as burdensome.
In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?Our findings suggest that customers reject service innovations not only in response to numerous perceived barriers associated with the innovation but also out of consideration of the practices in which they must engage to attenuate those barriers. Prior research shows customers typically adopt and use access-based services to avoid the burdens of ownership. We show that they reject these services due to the burdens of access, which include the barriers to access and the barrier-attenuating practices. Understanding both the barriers and the practices in which customers engage is critical for theory and practice; it can reveal new ways to see, examine, and manage service innovations. In sum, the success of access initiatives is not necessarily for those service providers that show the benefits of using the service, but might be for those who are best at overcoming the barriers as well as facilitating and limiting the practices in which customers engage.
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