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UBC Theses and Dissertations

How to provide "live help" : the effects of text-to-speech voice and 3D avatar on perception of presence in electronic shopping Qiu, Lingyun


With the prevalence of online shopping, companies began to provide real-time communications on their websites to facilitate human-to-human interactions between sales representative and online customers. This study investigates the interface design of such "Live Help" functions. More specifically, it attempts to understand whether the implementation of Text-To-Speech (TTS) voice and 3D avatar in the user interface of "Live Help" affects user's views of the interaction, the service staff, and the website. A laboratory experiment was designed and conducted to empirically test the hypotheses that TTS voice and avatar will have significant effects on user's perception of presence, flow, and trust. A 3 by 2 full factorial design (with 3 different levels on the dimension of voice and 2 different levels on the dimension of avatar) was adopted and 72 university students and staff members were recruited for the study. Results showed that TTS voice had significant effects on increasing user's perceptions of flow and trust, while 3D avatar enhances user's feeling of telepresence. These findings not only provide a good starting point for studying the virtual communication experience in online shopping, but also offer practitioners useful guidelines on how to integrate and improve the interface design of real time human-to-human communications on the shopping websites.

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