The Impact of Waiting on Customer-Instigated Service Time: Field Evidence from a Live-chat Contact Center

Journal of Operations Management, Forthcoming

63 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2022

See all articles by Noyan Ilk

Noyan Ilk

Florida State University

Guangzhi Shang

Florida State University - College of Business

Date Written: June 20, 2022

Abstract

It is well-known that the waiting time a customer experiences in a service system is determined by the service processing time of preceding customers, among other factors. We argue that a directionally opposite effect, which diffuses from waiting time to her own service time, also exists in co-productive service contexts where a significant fraction of the service time is contributed by the customer. Multiple underlying customer behavioral mechanisms lead us to hypothesize that waiting’s impact is dependent on the service stage and magnifies as the service process approaches completion. Our empirical analysis utilizes a unique operational dataset that combines server log information with instant-messaging transcripts collected from a live-chat contact center. We show that pre-service waiting accelerates customer engagement – one dimension of customer instigated service time – only at the beginning of the conversation and then exhibits a slowdown effect as the conversation proceeds. In contrast, in-service waiting consistently slows down customer responses – another dimension of customer instigated service time, the magnitude of which is higher in later episodes of the agent-customer message exchanges. We discuss the practical implications of our findings on operational policies employed in contact centers.

Keywords: service co-production, people operations, contact center, waiting time, service time, instant messaging, live-chat

Suggested Citation

Ilk, Noyan and Shang, Guangzhi, The Impact of Waiting on Customer-Instigated Service Time: Field Evidence from a Live-chat Contact Center (June 20, 2022). Journal of Operations Management, Forthcoming , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4140777

Noyan Ilk

Florida State University ( email )

Tallahasse, FL 32306
United States

Guangzhi Shang (Contact Author)

Florida State University - College of Business ( email )

423 Rovetta Business Building
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1110
United States

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