First Ranked First to Serve: Strategic Agents in a Service Contest
Posted: 30 Nov 2015
Date Written: November 2015
We model a service provider whose agents endogenously determine their participation and performance level. This paper is motivated by two-sided marketplaces and work-from-home call centers, which crowdsource incoming demand to a pool of agents. The agents are ranked in a prespecified number of priority classes based on their relative performance. Higher performers are more utilized and agents' idle time is not compensated. We study which priority class structure creates the best incentives for agents' participation and performance. We show that the optimal design of such a “service contest” is often coarse, namely, it contains only a few priority classes. Discarding available information on agents' relative rankings, or, deploying coarser priority classes, can paradoxically provide higher incentives for agents' participation and performance.
Keywords: work-from-home call centers, service contest, strategic servers, server priorities, service operations
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