Holistic Customer Experience in Smart City Service Systems – A Conceptual Model
Authors: Michel Muschkiet, Tobias Wulfert
Abstract: Through the multiplicity of different actors, smart cities offer many physical and digital touchpoints where interactions with customers can occur for the creation and delivery of smart services. Integrating these touchpoints at different levels offers the potential to foster innovation and stimulate service creation by bringing together different resources. At present, however, service production and delivery in cities is mostly highly parcelled out and isolated by individual providers. A strong competitive spirit is particularly evident in the use of the multitude of data in smart cities, due to its high value when being transformed into valuable smart services. The isolated consideration of services can be one of the central weaknesses of today's cities, leading to a declining attractiveness as a place to stay and consume. Increasing online competition, related changing consumer behavior, and the COVID-19 pandemic are leading to a growing decoupling of work, leisure and shopping from physical locations and thus from the city as a place where services are provided. To strengthen the development of a city, it is necessary to attract customers back by making the experience attractive as a combination of different value contributions, e.g. integrating retail services with smart solutions for the search of nearby free parking spaces, toward an integrated customer experience in cities. Meanwhile it has been argued that customer experience in cities is more holistic than the experience in single service encounters, there is a lack in research in exploring how customer experience in cities can be conceptualized. In this work, we therefore present city experience as an integrative concept which bundles the experiences from various activities in the city toward a holistic customer experience. Following the Design Science Research process suggested by Peffers et al. (2007), examining smart service literature in the field of smart cities and 141 real-world smart city services from the perspective of their contribution to customer experience, we develop a conceptual model which depicts the central determinants of city experience. Our model deepens knowledge in the field of consumer-oriented value creation in smart cities providing an integrative perspective on customer experience, smart cities and smart services. We consider our insights significant for research, as our integrative framework deepens the understanding of a holistic customer experience as a solution to the above-described problems. It provides a basis to further theorize on customer experience in smart cities and on how to design and integrate smart services to create it. Further, our work can help practitioners involved in smart cities in the design of new smart services as well as the evaluation of existing services with respect to their contribution to the city experience. Accordingly, this integrative perspective on smart city services organizes the state of the art of smart service research in a novel way and enhances understanding on the role of smart services to contribute to an overall customer experience. By taking on this view, our research provides important perspectives and results that could significantly contribute to solving the ongoing challenges according to a city’s attractiveness and development.
Keywords: Customer Experience, Smart City, Service Design
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