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

42 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2020 Last revised: 9 Jul 2021

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 in recent times. In collaboration with a major ride-sharing platform, we study how the wait time information (WTI) – both its initial magnitude and its subsequent progress over time - impacts customers' abandonment behavior in virtual queues. The study was conducted through a randomized field experiment that included 1,425,745 rides: one-third of the rides received a neutral WTI, one-third received an optimistic WTI shorter than the neutral WTI (hence less frequent updates), and one-third received a pessimistic WTI (hence more frequent updates). The underlying wait time did not vary across the three groups. We find that 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. This is 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 dominates: 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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