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Developing Customer Service Innovations For Service Employees: The Effects Of NSD Characteristics On Internal Innovation Magnitude

Nita Umashankar, Raji Srinivasan, Dustin Hindman

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During product recovery, firms rely on their customer service agents to recover customers’ product failures and deliver superior customer service. However, customers who contact the firm about a product failure often are dissatisfied, which makes customer service agents’ jobs challenging. Therefore, firms continuously try to improve their internal customer service operations to increase benefits for customer service agents and, by extension, their customers. The authors hypothesize that the way firms design (agent codesign and design acceleration) and implement (agent enablement) an internal customer service innovation has direct and joint effects on the magnitude of benefits of the innovation to customer service agents, termed internal innovation magnitude. The authors test the conceptual model using data on 38 internal customer service innovations at a Fortune 500 high-technology firm. The findings extend the internal marketing literature by demonstrating that service employees represent a critical source of user-generated feedback. The findings also contribute to marketing practice by suggesting that accelerating the design process not only saves costs but also increases benefits for the internal users of the innovation.