Hello there, Nicklas Salomonson, guest researcher at CTF…2021-02-11
... and professor at the University of Borås. You are studying customers and employees in an increasingly digitalized society. Why is this interesting?
"In recent years, there has been a great deal of focus on the opportunities that new digital solutions provide customers and companies. I think it is important also to problematise the use of new technology and highlight negative aspects. For example, how employees in retail can feel ignored by customers who engage in their mobile phone instead of greeting or responding to them - a phenomenon called "phubbing". Together with CTF, I have studied what happens, why it happens, and how employees can handle these customer meetings, and other situations where customers behave badly, in the retail and public transport sectors. Our research shows that there is a great need for training on how to handle difficult customers. Today, employees learn from each other and through "learning by doing". Hopefully, our research can contribute to a development in the field. It is an area that engages many, and we have received a lot of attention in media and social networks, which makes it more interesting and fun."
What other research areas are you focusing on?
"In addition to negative customer behavior, I also study patient involvement in healthcare and consumer vulnerability in collaboration with CTF. My focus is on interaction and value creation in service meetings between staff and customers. Another area is technology and services - what role does the employee have, what role does technology play and how can they support each other? There are things the customers want to take care of themselves, and it works well with the help of self-service technologies and AI, but in some situations there is a need for a human who can identify solutions. In addition, I also do research on sustainable consumption."
As a new professor of business administration - how do you see the future?
"I want to continue the research on the role of frontline employees in an increasingly digital society. The interaction between people can be shadowed by technology, and the focus on giving advice and support when something goes wrong is lost. Humans have inherent powers, such as the ability to innovate, be creative, to coordinate, and show empathy, which computers do not have - yet. Sometimes it is more important for the customer to be seen and understood, rather than getting a quick and good-enough solution. I will also continue to develop the research environment at the University of Borås.
How did you first get in touch with CTF?
"Back in 2007, I received an invitation from CTF to present my dissertation at a seminar. And that's my tip for new researchers: Always accept such invitations. That presentation has led to many collaborations and has been very good for me."