Queue Configurations and Operational Performance: An Interplay between Customer Ownership and Queue Length Awareness
47 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 2021 Last revised: 13 Apr 2023
Date Written: April 12, 2023
Problem Definition/Methodology: Contrary to traditional queueing theory, recent field studies in B2C services indicate that pooled queues may be less efficient than dedicated queues. We use two online experiments in the healthcare delivery context to replicate this finding and assess the interplay of servers’ customer ownership and queue length awareness as potential underlying mechanisms.
Results: We find that dedicated queues outperform pooled queues with respect to processing speed without sacrificing quality. The reduction in speed is partially mediated by the servers’ queue length awareness and partially suppressed by their ownership of customers in queue. When servers experience a change in queue configuration, the shorter processing times and higher levels of queue length awareness persist across the change in queue configuration, unlike the higher ownership of customers in the queue, which exhibits no carryover effect.
Managerial implications: Once servers have experienced a dedicated queue configuration, the benefits associated with it—namely, the shorter processing times and the higher levels of queue length awareness—are going to stick even if the organization ends up reverting back to a pooled queue configuration. Hence, organizations that typically operate with pooled queue configurations could occasionally experiment with dedicated queue configurations to instill these benefits.
Keywords: Behavioral Operations Management, Online Experiments, Queue Management, Server Pooling, Healthcare Operations Management
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