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Researchers find that customer satisfaction with both offline and online services can be modeled effectively based on expectations of future service performance, perceptions of actual performance, and a comparison of customers' initial expectations to subsequent perceptions of performance known as disconfirmation. Research has examined antecedents to offline service expectations, and is now beginning to examine online service expectations. We add to this research by predicting that two antecedents-information-seeking need and prior service satisfaction-will have positive influences on initial expectations of a relational multichannel service provider where the service provider and customer have a long term-relationship, and services are offered through offline and online channels. We test these antecedents by surveying existing patients of a large health care provider during the introduction of a new online channel, regarding their information-seeking need, prior service satisfaction, and initial expectations. Three months later, we gathered data regarding patients' satisfaction with the online service. Conceptualizing the dimensions of expectations as usefulness, ease-of-use, and enjoyment, we show that information-seeking need and prior service satisfaction are significant antecedents to expectations, and that expectations have a positive influence on satisfaction.
Date of Publication: Nov. 2007