The paper entitled “Frontline Technology Infusion: Conceptual Archetypes and a Future Research Agenda” offers a useful typology for the role of technology in customer service. The paper was authored by Arne De Keyser, Sarah Köcher, Linda Nasr and Jay Kandampully, and the authors provide various examples of how technology may 1) have no role, 2) augment staff, or 3) replace staff, in a service encounter.
I find this typology very helpful in terms of thinking about research issues such as how the introduction of a certain technology might impact on service delivery, the customer experience, staff, and so on. For instance, a firm considering the implementation of conversational agent technology, might wish to consider some of these issues:
This typology might also be useful for potential PhD students trying to refine their research question(s). By the way, if you are interested in doing a PhD on this type of topic, Brunel is offering two PhD studentships. Though, do consider these 6 questions, before embarking on a PhD journey.