A simplified approach to understanding customer support and help during self-service encounters

Estelle van Tonder, Stephen G. Saunders, Leon T. de Beer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Purpose: In the absence of direct employee involvement, customers sharing knowledge and know-how with other customers during self-service encounters is key for promoting service quality. This study assessed the extent to which customer support and help during self-service encounters could simply be explained by multiple motivations of the social exchange theory. Design/methodology/approach: A survey approach was followed. The model was tested among 258 electronic banking customers in South Africa and later cross-validated among 253 electronic banking customers in Australia. Multi-group confirmatory factor analysis with country as the grouping variable, latent variable modelling and indirect tests were performed to assess interrelationships among diverse factors that may contribute to customer support and help during self-service encounters, as accounted for by motivations of the social exchange theory. Findings: Adequate model fit was obtained for the combined structural model, which was based on the invariant model. Value contribution and competence affirmation, pleasure derived from helping, reciprocity and reputation enhancement are relevant motivations of the social exchange theory that may impact customer support and help through knowledge sharing. Research implications: The study provides a simplified and more cohesive explanation of customers' motivations for engaging in customer support and helping behaviours during self-service encounters. Practical implications: Service providers seeking guidance on knowledge sharing among customers, which may lead to greater service quality, should benefit from this research. Originality/value: The findings contribute to greater understanding of social exchanges by customers who provide support and help to other customers during self-service encounters, and that ultimately may affect service quality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-634
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Quality and Reliability Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Knowledge sharing
  • Motivations
  • Self-service
  • Service quality
  • Social exchange theory

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