Exploring online help-seeking tendencies: the influence of experience type and helper identity

Prof. Shaobo LI
Assistant Professor, SUSTech Business School

Date: 5 April 2024 (Friday)
Time: 15:00 pm to 16:30 pm
Venue: E22-G015
Host: Prof. Jacky LIN


In the age of digital advancements, businesses provide online assistance via a help button to aid users experience. Understanding factors that influence users’ online help-seeking tendencies is crucial for optimizing resources and improving user support and users’ experience. Based on the utilitarian-motivation systems and hedonic-motivation systems theory, this paper explores the impact of experience type and helper identity on users’ online help-seeking behavior across four studies. In Study 1, it was observed that users clicked the help button more frequently on a utilitarian website when they faced challenges compared to a hedonic website. Additionally, having a help button connecting to service staff on the utilitarian website led to a better evaluation of the website. Studies 2a and 2b demonstrated that this pattern was driven by users’ greater attention to achieving specific outcomes in a utilitarian context, contrasting with an emphasis on experiential enjoyment. Moreover, as shown in Study 2b, when both human service staff and service robots were options for assistance via the help-seeking button, individuals engaged in utilitarian experience were more likely to click the help button connecting them with human staff rather than a service robot. Study 3 revealed that users exhibited a higher propensity to seek assistance from human service staff in contrast to service robots when facing challenges with utilitarian experiences. Nevertheless, when users participated in hedonic experiences, no notable difference was observed in their inclination to seek help between human staff and service robots. These findings emphasize the importance of considering experience type and helper identity when planning online support services, contributing valuable insights to the literature on hedonic versus utilitarian motivation systems, users’ online help-seeking behavior, and user experience.



Dr. Shaobo LI serves as an Assistant Professor at SUSTech Business School, holding a Ph.D. in Marketing from Nanyang Technological University (2019). His research explores consumer behavior in the digital age, employing experimental and empirical methodologies. Prof. LI’s scholarly work is recognized in leading business journals, including the Journal of Consumer Research, Information Systems Research, Production and Operations Management, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, International Journal of Research in Marketing, and others. He serves on the Journal of Business Research’s editorial review board. Prof. LI’s research won the AMS Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Competition Award, the Outstanding Paper Award at the Annual Conference of China Marketing Science, the Outstanding Paper Award of the China Marketing International Conference, and the Best Paper Award at the Academic Annual Conference of the Chinese Marketing Association of Universities. In addition to his research achievements, Prof. LI’s excellence in teaching has been recognized with the SUSTech Teaching Excellence Award and the Excellent Graduate Teacher Award from Nanyang Business School.

 All are welcome!