Information Design to Facilitate Social Interactions on Service Platforms: Evidence from a Large Field Experiment

30 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2020

See all articles by Hengchen Dai

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

Date Written: January 30, 2020

Abstract

As digitization enables service platforms to track users’ footprints and control information design, important questions arise about how digital service platforms should disseminate customer-related information to service providers to shape user behavior in the desired direction. We contribute to this understanding by examining the impact of a novel information design — providing customer-related information to facilitate interaction between service providers and customers at the beginning of a service encounter — on service capacity and quality. We evaluate this strategy via a field experiment on a live streaming platform that connects individual broadcasters and viewers. When viewers entered shows, we provided information about viewers to broadcasters that were randomly assigned to the treatment condition (but not to control broadcasters). Our analysis involving 49,999 broadcasters confirms that our intervention increased the interaction between broadcasters and viewers by 8.66% during the first minute after viewers entered a show. Furthermore, treatment broadcasters expanded their service capacity by 8.74% via increasing both the frequency (by 3.96%) and length (by 7.52%) of shows. This is not because treatment broadcasters could or believed they could earn more per minute of service but rather because they felt more connected with viewers and enjoyed performing more. Moreover, our intervention increased experienced service quality (as measured by viewers’ watch time) by 5.85%, without affecting willingness to pay. The increase is not simply driven by treatment broadcasters’ expanded service capacity. Instead, viewers were more likely to ``follow" treatment broadcasters and watch their future shows, suggesting that our intervention made viewers feel more connected with broadcasters. Our low-cost information-based intervention has important implications for digital service platforms that do not have control over service providers’ work schedules and service quality.

Keywords: Platform Operations, Service Operations, Information Design, Field Experiment, Empirical OM

Suggested Citation

Dai, Hengchen and Zhang, Dennis and Xu, Zhiwei, Information Design to Facilitate Social Interactions on Service Platforms: Evidence from a Large Field Experiment (January 30, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3528619 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3528619

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

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