Online Product Support Forums: Customers as Partners in the Service Delivery

32 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2016

See all articles by Konstantinos I. Stouras

Konstantinos I. Stouras

UCD, Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School

Date Written: November 1, 2016


Organizations increasingly provide service to their customers via an online product support forum in which service delivery is partially delegated to an active community of users. Through an analytical model, we examine the relationship between askers' impatience, award and cost structure and types of questions attempted by the users towards characterizing how a firm should effectively manage such an innovative business model for service. Our results establish that the rate of firm's participation can steer users responses among the available question types, and that users' rate is unimodal in firm's rate up to a point where a very actively responding firm essentially discourages any participation of the users into its forum. Finally, from the practical perspective of managing customer support, our analysis offers rules of thumb on the extent to which firms should delegate service to a large online community of users, contingent on the incoming demand for service and available staffing level.

Keywords: customer support, service contest, strategic servers, online communities, service operations

Suggested Citation

Stouras, Konstantinos I., Online Product Support Forums: Customers as Partners in the Service Delivery (November 1, 2016). Darden Business School Working Paper No. 2868382, Available at SSRN: or

Konstantinos I. Stouras (Contact Author)

UCD, Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School ( email )

Carysfort Ave

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