Queue Configurations and Operational Performance:

An Interplay Between Customer Ownership and Queue Length Awareness

48 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 2021 Last revised: 10 Jun 2024

See all articles by Hummy Song

Hummy Song

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Mor Armony

New York University (NYU) - Department of Information, Operations, and Management Sciences

Guillaume Roels

INSEAD - Technology and Operations Management

Date Written: October 23, 2023

Abstract

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. We operationalize customer ownership as the extent to which servers feel ownership towards their customers and queue length awareness as the extent to which servers are able to accurately quantify their number of customers.

Results: We find that, following a change in queue configuration, 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. The former is because servers turn out to be less likely to underestimate their load, which makes them work faster. The latter is because ownership of customers in queue may distract servers from the customer in service. When the queue configuration changes from a dedicated to a pooled one, the shorter processing times and higher levels of queue length awareness persist across the change, unlike the higher ownership of customers in the queue.

Managerial implications: In discretionary service settings, switching to a dedicated queue is often beneficial in terms of operational performance, partly because the increased queue length awareness motivates servers to work faster; however, the increased degree of customer ownership of those in queue may distract them and result in a slowdown.

Keywords: Behavioral Operations Management, Online Experiments, Queue Management, Server Pooling, Healthcare Operations Management

Suggested Citation

Song, Hummy and Armony, Mor and Roels, Guillaume,

Queue Configurations and Operational Performance:

An Interplay Between Customer Ownership and Queue Length Awareness

(October 23, 2023). INSEAD Working Paper No. 2024/34/TOM/ACGRE, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3980495 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3980495

Hummy Song

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

3730 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Mor Armony

New York University (NYU) - Department of Information, Operations, and Management Sciences ( email )

44 West Fourth Street
New York, NY 10012
United States
(212) 998-0291 (Phone)
(212) 995-4227 (Fax)

Guillaume Roels (Contact Author)

INSEAD - Technology and Operations Management ( email )

Boulevard de Constance
77 305 Fontainebleau Cedex
France

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