Service Channel Fit: Conceptualization and Instrumentation Validated Through a Study of Electronic Banking

Abstract: Electronically mediated self-service technologies in the banking industry have impacted the way banks service consumers. Despite a large body of research on electronic banking channels, no study has been undertaken to empirically explore the fit between electronic banking channels and banking services. To address this gap, we developed and validated a service-channel fit conceptualization and an associated survey instrument. We applied a mixed methods approach and initially investigated industry experts’ perceptions regarding the concept of ‘service-channel fit’ (SCF). The findings demonstrated that the concept was highly valued by bank managers. Next, we developed an instrument to measure the perceived service-channel fit of electronic banking channels. The instrument was developed using expert rounds and two pretests involving approximately 300 consumers in New Zealand. Drawing on IS alignment literature, we created a parallel instrument allowing us to calculate SCF across three unique fit dimensions, including service complexity-channel fit, service importance-channel fit, and service routineness-channel fit. To explore the nomological validity of the SCF construct, we linked SCF to customers’ intention to use a specific channel for a particular banking task. We tested our model with data from 340 consumers in New Zealand using Internet banking applications for two different banking tasks. The results of our study have theoretical and practical implications for how clients should be serviced through electronically mediated banking channels.