The Value of Customer-Related Information on Service Platforms: Evidence From a Large Field Experiment

44 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2020 Last revised: 13 May 2022

See all articles by Zhiyu Zeng

Zhiyu Zeng

Tsinghua University - Department of Industrial Engineering

Hengchen Dai

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management

Dennis Zhang

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School

Zhiwei Xu

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Zuo-Jun Max Shen

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Industrial Engineering & Operations Research (IEOR)

Date Written: December 16, 2020

Abstract

Problem definition: As digitization enables service platforms to easily access users’ information, important questions arise about how service platforms should disseminate information to improve platform operations. We contribute to this understanding by examining how providing customer-related information at the beginning of a service encounter affects service capacity and enjoyment. Methodology/results: We conducted a field experiment on a live-streaming platform that connects hundreds of millions of viewers with individual broadcasters. When viewers entered shows, we provided viewer-related information to broadcasters who were randomly assigned to the treatment condition (but not to control broadcasters). Our analyses, involving a random subsample of 49,998 broadcasters, demonstrate that relative to control broadcasters, treatment broadcasters expanded service capacity by 12.62% via increasing both show frequency (3.31%) and show length (7.10%), thus earning 10.44% more income, based on our conservative estimate. Moreover, our intervention increased service enjoyment (measured by viewer watch time) by 4.51%. Additional analyses about
the field experiment and two surveys involving 1,229 broadcasters shed light on the mechanisms. Specifically, the evidence suggests that viewer-related information facilitates personalized service and increases social interaction between viewers and broadcasters, which may boost viewers’ service enjoyment and broadcasters’ service capacity by addressing their need for affiliation. In addition, viewer-related information depicts viewers more vividly and makes broadcasters feel that their service is more appreciated and meaningful, which may increase their service capacity by addressing their need for competence. We further address four alternative explanations. Managerial implications: By stimulating personalized service and social interaction, as well as increasing customer vividness, providing customer-related information at the beginning of a service
encounter can benefit both service providers and customers. This low-cost, information-based intervention has important implications for digital service platforms that have little control over service providers’ work schedules and service quality.

Keywords: Platform Operations, Service Operations, Operational Transparency, Field Experiment

Suggested Citation

Zeng, Zhiyu and Dai, Hengchen and Zhang, Dennis and Xu, Zhiwei and Shen, Zuo-Jun Max, The Value of Customer-Related Information on Service Platforms: Evidence From a Large Field Experiment (December 16, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3528619 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3528619

Zhiyu Zeng

Tsinghua University - Department of Industrial Engineering ( email )

Beijing
China

Hengchen Dai (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States

Dennis Zhang

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1133
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States

Zhiwei Xu

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Zuo-Jun Max Shen

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Industrial Engineering & Operations Research (IEOR) ( email )

IEOR Department
4135 Etcheverry Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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