Benefitting from virtual customer environments: An empirical study of customer engagement

T. Verhagen, E Swen, J.F.M. Feldberg, J. Merikivi

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Customer engagement has been labeled as a prerequisite for the success of virtual customer environments. A key challenge for organizations serving their customers via these environments is how to stimulate customer engagement. This study is among the first to shed light on this issue by examining customer engagement and its drivers. Using the theory of uses and gratification as theoretical lens, we develop a model that relates characteristics of virtual customer environments, perceived benefits of using these environments and customer engagement intentions. The model is validated using partially least squares structural equation modeling on three samples of real users of different virtual customer environments in the Dutch telecom industry. The results provide clear support for the validity of the hypothesized relationships and show high robustness of the findings across the three datasets. An important finding of this study is that cognitive, social integrative and hedonic benefits appear to be significant in their influence on customer engagement intentions. Overall, the findings add to the underexplored field of customer engagement study and hold implications for research into and the management of virtual customer environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-357
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Issue numberJuly
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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