To Wait or Not to Wait: The Theory and Practice of Ticket Queues
41 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2017 Last revised: 10 May 2018
Date Written: July 7, 2017
Ticket queues are prevalent in service industries. They enhance customer satisfaction by eliminating physical lines, but may compromise efficiency (i.e., service completion probability). Existing studies offer mixed results on the cause and magnitude of such inefficiency. These results, however, are based on simplistic customer behaviors. Taking a holistic approach, we examine how realistic customer behaviors drive ticket queue performance. Our empirical studies reveal that (i) customers are capable of adapting their patience to the waiting context, and (ii) they use dynamic updating to improve forecasting and decision making over time. Once we model these two behaviors, we find the ticket queue inefficiency is much smaller than the literature predicted. By testing and highlighting the central role of realistic customer behaviors, this paper advances our understanding on how ticket queues perform in practice.
Keywords: customer behaviors, service systems, ticket queue, Markov, dynamic updating
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