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Bringing the corner-store online: The challenges and promises of online customer service.


Information technology (IT) enables firms to harness the information-richness of the Internet in order to provide automated customer relationship management. As a result, online customer service is emerging as a promising IT- based alternative to traditional means of customer service, such as branding, telephone customer service, and price discounts. Consequently, the concept of customer acquisition and retention, which has traditionally fallen within the area of marketing, is entering the realm of information systems (IS) design. My dissertation addresses the possibilities and challenges brought about by IT- enabled online customer service mechanisms. This dissertation examines whether firms can use IT-based service mechanisms to differentiate themselves, and therefore charge higher prices. In addition, this dissertation examines how online customer service features affect customer browsing and buying behavior.