|M.Sc Student||Westphal Monika|
|Subject||An Experimental Study of Customer Patience and Abandonment|
in Online Customer Service
|Department||Department of Industrial Engineering and Management||Supervisors||Professor Anat Rafaeli|
|Dr. Galit Yom-Tov|
|Full Thesis text|
We undertake a multidisciplinary approach and study the impact of delay announcements and customer meandering (shifting focus to another website) on patience and abandonment in online waiting. The research addresses three predictions that build on theories in Psychology: First, based on theories that describe information as a tool to increase people's sense of control (Averill 1973, Osuna 1985) we expect delay announcements to reduce customer abandonment. Second, the theory of Cognitive Anchoring (Tversky & Kahneman 1974), as well as theories on the optimism bias and learning lead us to predict that customers will anchor on the content of delay announcements, which in turn affects their patience to wait. Third, building on Resource Allocation Theory (Zakay & Hornik 1991) we propose that customer meandering will decrease abandonment. Results of three experimental online studies with a total sample of 3,430 participants indicate that announcing a delay to customers decreases their likelihood of abandoning the wait. Interestingly, the content of delay announcements does not affect immediate abandonment (balking): regardless of the delay announced, nearly 20% of the customers balk. Our findings confirm that customers anchor on the delay information, i.e. they are more patient following the announcement of a higher delay. And, when the announced delay entails a range (i.e. 'between x and y min'), customers adjust their initial, low wait expectations (x minutes) in the direction of the upper range point (y minutes), once the wait time announced in the lower point has passed. As a consequence of this adjustment, these customers are less likely to abandon, compared to customers who received delay information comprising only the lower point of the range (i.e. 'about x min'). Lastly, customers who meander while waiting are less likely to abandon the wait. This effect occurs regardless of the specific delay announcement given. Our findings carry important implications for the theoretical and empirical study of online queue wait in Operations Research and Psychology, as well as for the design and management of service systems.