3 Questions to Anne Scherer

Anne Scherer joined our Faculty at the beginning of November 2017 as Assistant Professor for Quantitative Marketing at the Department of Business Administration. In the introductory interview she explains why human encounters remain valuable in times of digitalization and what she would like to convey to her students.

What do you focus on in your research?

We interact with machines on a daily basis today and surely even more so tomorrow. In my research, I try to understand how consumers interact and react differently to machine vs. human encounters.

For instance, do bank customers trust a robo-advisor more than a human advisor and if so, why? Assume the advice turns out to be good, would customers evaluate the service of the human and the robo-advisor differently? My research suggests that they do. Particularly, I find that customers tend to evaluate a service delivered by a person more extremely. That is, customers are more satisfied with a good service, such as a good investment advice, but also more dissatisfied with a bad service, such as a bad investment advice, when a person rather than a machine delivered it.

For me, these results are comforting as they demonstrate that even in times of a rampant enthusiasm about digitalization and automation, we are still valuing good work of others.

What would you like to convey to your students?

Learning never stops, even when you have finished college. Given the fast technological advancements, I am sure that many of the tools we teach in our courses today will be outdated tomorrow.

Just consider the marketing discipline in the last couple of years. During my time in college, social media was just in its infancy. Today, this is an increasingly important field in marketing, offering companies completely new ways of promoting their products and interacting with their customers.

This is why I want to encourage my students to always stay curious and consider their formal education as the start and not the end of a lifelong quest for knowledge.

What were the decisive factors for you to join the University of Zurich?

Zurich is one of the leading research hubs in continental Europe and a wonderful city to live in. At the University of Zurich, I have joined the University Research Priority Program on “Social Networks”. While the researchers in this program come from all over the world and have very diverse research backgrounds, they are all united by a common interest area. I believe this setup offers a great opportunity to get inspiring perspectives and new insights from other disciplines that will be very fruitful for my research.