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

29 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2020 Last revised: 13 Jan 2021

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: January 2, 2021

Abstract

Problem Definition: 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. However, the loss of privacy and personal connection in shared delivery models may undermine engagement, and consequently, outcomes. Academic / Practical Relevance: The engagement dynamics in one-on-one and shared delivery models have not been rigorously studied. To the extent that shared delivery may result in comparable or better engagement than one-on-one delivery, service providers in a broad array of contexts may be able to create more value for customers by delivering service in batches. Methodology: We conducted a randomized con- trolled 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. Results: 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. Managerial Implications: 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 (January 2, 2021). 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 )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan Hall 429
Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-496-6918 (Phone)

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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