| 26.08.2020

Doctoral thesis: Many factors influence the user experience of a sports watch

New research shows that understanding the customer ecosystem is essential for successful smart self-service experiences, like activity trackers. The ecosystems can be individual-, brand- or socially-driven.

In her doctoral thesis entitled “Exploring customer experiences with smart self-service: A customer ecosystem approach” Michaela Lipkin studies how the customer ecosystem – consisting of actors deemed relevant by the customer rather than the company – shapes the customer’s experiences with activity trackers like Runkeeper or Suunto and Polar watches.

 “I found that multiple actors – including those beyond the company and even unfamiliar with the service – can be considered relevant by customers and shape their experiences with activity tracking. For example, other service providers, the customer’s family and friends, even strangers could positively or negatively impact the tracking experience”, Lipkin states.

Lipkin points out that complementing services like the social fitness network Strava often positively contributed to the activity tracking experience. Other customers had a negative tracking experience due to the lack of friends using the same activity tracker as they did. As there were no familiar faces to compete against, interest simply died out.

In her research, Michaela Lipkin also found that the number of actors and their importance to the customer resulted in different customer ecosystem types.

“Basically, the customer’s goals largely dictate the nature of her ecosystem. Some customers were running with an activity tracker to improve performance, or had a goal of not having any goals. These customers had individual-driven ecosystems with few actors present. Others focused on engaging with the latest technology and brands, which resulted in more brand-driven ecosystems. Finally, some customers chose an activity tracker only to compete and compare with others. These ecosystems consisting of multiple actors were socially-driven

According to Michaela, exploring the customer ecosystem is key for any company aiming to be relevant and competitive in today’s business landscape. Today’s customers often select and experience service in their own settings on their own terms – as for example with activity tracking or online shopping. The recent COVID-19 pandemic illustrates how customers may even be forced to minimize company interactions and consume most offerings in the comfort of their own homes.

“In this customer-empowered, technology-driven and ever-changing marketplace, it’s more important than ever for companies to deep dive into customers’ realities. By exploring and mapping customer ecosystem types, managers gain a useful tool to capture customer insights that can help them facilitate more meaningful customer experiences, and design and market business offerings that have a chance of becoming selected, used and embedded in customers’ daily lives”, Lipkin concludes.

You can read the whole doctoral thesis here.
DOI: 10.1108/JOSM-06-2015-0180

Contact details

Michaela Lipkin
E-mail: michaela.lipkin@hanken.fi

Michaela Lipkin defends her dissertation on Thursday, August 27th, 2020 at noon 12 pm  The subject is Marketing.
Opponent: Professor Hannu Saarijärvi, Tampere University
Custos: Professor Maria Holmlund-Rytkönen

The doctoral defense will be remotely organised.
Join the Teams-meeting here. The link opens on August 27th, at noon 12 pm.