Transfer Decisions in Services: A Multimethod Approach

52 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2021 Last revised: 7 Oct 2021

See all articles by Brett Hathaway

Brett Hathaway

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School

Evgeny Kagan

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School

Maqbool Dada

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School

Date Written: January 22, 2021

Abstract

In many service encounters front-line workers (often referred to as gatekeepers) have the discretion to attempt to resolve a customer request, or to transfer the customer to an expert service provider. We study the gatekeeper’s transfer decision using an integrated approach that consists of a field study, an analytical model, and a behavioral experiment. Drawing on a proprietary dataset of interactions between the customers and call center agents of a mid-size US-based bank, we formulate and solve an analytical model of the gatekeeper’s transfer response to different incentive schemes and to different congestion loads and then test several model predictions experimentally. Our experiments show that human behavior matches the predictions qualitatively, but not always in magnitude. Specifically, transfer rates are disproportionately low in the presence of monetary penalties for transferring, even after controlling for the economic (dis)incentive to transfer, suggesting an overreaction to transfer cost. In contrast, the transfer response to varying congestion
shows no systematic bias. Taken together, these results advance our understanding of cognitive capabilities and rationality limits on human server behavior in queueing systems.

Keywords: decision-making, behavior in queueing systems, service operations, incentive design

JEL Classification: C61, C91, L96

Suggested Citation

Hathaway, Brett and Kagan, Evgeny and Dada, Maqbool, Transfer Decisions in Services: A Multimethod Approach (January 22, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3771633 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3771633

Brett Hathaway (Contact Author)

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School ( email )

100 International Drive
Baltimore, MD 21202
United States

Evgeny Kagan

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School ( email )

100 International Drive
Baltimore, MD 21202
United States

Maqbool Dada

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School ( email )

100 International Drive
Baltimore, MD 21202
United States

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