Delay Information in Virtual Queues: A Large-Scale Field Experiment on a Ride-Sharing Platform

26 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2020 Last revised: 11 Sep 2020

See all articles by Qiuping Yu

Qiuping Yu

Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology

Yiming Zhang

University of Washington - Michael G. Foster School of Business

Yong-Pin Zhou

University of Washington - Department of Information Systems and Operations Management

Date Written: September 5, 2020

Abstract

The growing adoption of virtual queues in the service and retail industries has been greatly accelerated by COVID-19 due to the requirement of social distancing. In collaboration with a major ride-sharing platform, we study how the wait time information (WTI) given by the service provider impacts customers' abandonment behavior in virtual queues; the study was conducted through a large-scale randomized field experiment that included 1,425,745 rides: one-third of the rides received a neutral WTI, one-third received a more optimistic WTI shorter than the neutral WTI (hence less frequent updates), and one-third received a pessimistic WTI (hence more frequent updates). We find both the magnitude of the initial WTI and the update frequency of the WTI have a significant impact on customer abandonment. Specifically, when adjusting the initial WTI by 1 minute, it did not impact customer abandonment. We show that this may be because the magnitude effect of the initial WTI is cancelled out by the opposite update-frequency effect. However, when adjusting the WTI by more than 1 minute, the magnitude effect becomes dominant: when comparing the pessimistic WTI of 4 minutes with the neutral initial WTI of 2 minutes, 5 minutes with 3 minutes, and 8 minutes with 5 minutes, customers’ likelihood to abandon increases by 6.2%, 14.1%, and 19.6%, respectively. Similar but opposite effects are found when comparing the optimistic WTI with the neutral WTI. We discuss how firms can use our findings and insights to design and operate better virtual queues.

Keywords: Virtual Queues, Wait Time Information, Customer Abandonment, Field Experiment, Ridesharing Platforms

Suggested Citation

Yu, Qiuping and Zhang, Yiming and Zhou, Yong-Pin, Delay Information in Virtual Queues: A Large-Scale Field Experiment on a Ride-Sharing Platform (September 5, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3687302 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3687302

Qiuping Yu (Contact Author)

Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology ( email )

800 West Peachtree NW
Atlanta, GA 30308
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://qiupingyu.com/

Yiming Zhang

University of Washington - Michael G. Foster School of Business ( email )

Box 353200
Seattle, WA 98195-3200
United States

Yong-Pin Zhou

University of Washington - Department of Information Systems and Operations Management ( email )

BOx 353226, Foster School of Business
University of Washington
Seattle, WA Washington 98195-3226
United States

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.washington.edu/yongpin

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