Can Shared Service Delivery Increase Customer Engagement? A Study of Shared Medical Appointments

27 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2020

See all articles by Ryan W. Buell

Ryan W. Buell

Harvard Business School

Kamalini Ramdas

London Business School - Department of Management Science and Operations

Nazli Sonmez

London Business School

Date Written: July 1, 2020

Abstract

Customers and providers alike often consider one-on-one service delivery to be ideal, assuming –perhaps unquestioningly – that devoting individualized attention maximizes customer engagement and improves outcomes. Alternatively, shared service delivery, in which customers are served in batch, may, through the dynamics of group interaction, lead to increased customer engagement. On the other hand, the loss of privacy and personal connection in shared delivery models may undermine engagement and performance. To explore this tradeoff, we conducted a randomized controlled trial with 1,000 patients who were undergoing glaucoma treatment over a three-year period at a large eye hospital. Using verbatim and behavioral transcripts from over 20,000 minutes of video recorded during our trial, we examine how shared medical appointments (SMAs) – in which groups of patients with similar conditions meet with a doctor simultaneously, and each receives one-on-one care in turn – impact patients' engagement during their appointments. Patients who experienced SMAs asked 37.2% more questions per minute, made 8.2% more comments per minute, answered 3.6% more questions per minute, and exhibited higher levels of non-verbal engagement across a wide-array of measures (attentiveness, positivity, head wobbling or ‘talai taḷḷāṭṭam’ in Tamil – a South Indian gesture to signal agreement or understanding – eye contact and end-of-appointment happiness), relative to patients who attended one-on-one appointments. We further find that patients in SMAs went on to report higher levels of satisfaction and exhibit greater levels of learning and medication compliance. These results shed light on the potential for shared service delivery models to increase customer engagement and enhance service performance.

Keywords: customer engagement, shared service delivery, shared medical appointments, healthcare operations

Suggested Citation

Buell, Ryan W. and Ramdas, Kamalini and Sonmez, Nazli, Can Shared Service Delivery Increase Customer Engagement? A Study of Shared Medical Appointments (July 1, 2020). Harvard Business School Technology & Operations Mgt. Unit Working Paper No. 21-001, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3646420 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3646420

Ryan W. Buell (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.hbs.edu/rbuell

Kamalini Ramdas

London Business School - Department of Management Science and Operations ( email )

Sussex Place
Regent's Park
London, London NW1 4SA
United Kingdom

Nazli Sonmez

London Business School ( email )

Sussex Place
Regent's Park
London, London NW1 4SA
United Kingdom

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