Can Shared Service Delivery Increase Customer Engagement? A Study of Shared Medical Appointments
by Nazlı Sönmez
London Business School
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Customers and providers alike often consider one-on-one service delivery to be ideal, assuming – perhaps unquestioningly – that devoting individualized attention maximizes customer engagement and improves outcomes. Alternatively, shared service delivery, in which customers are served in batch, may, through the dynamics of group interaction, lead to increased customer engagement. On the other hand, the loss of privacy and personal connection in shared delivery models may undermine engagement and performance. To explore this trade-off, we conducted a randomized controlled trial with 1,000 patients who were undergoing glaucoma treatment over a three-year period at a large eye hospital. Using verbatim and behavioral transcripts from over 20,000 minutes of video recorded during our trial, we examine how shared medical appointments (SMAs) – in which groups of patients with similar conditions meet with a doctor simultaneously, and each receives one-on-one care in turn – impact patients’ engagement during their appointments. Patients who experienced SMAs asked 37.2% more questions per minute, made 8.2% more comments per minute, answered 3.6% more questions per minute, and exhibited higher levels of non-verbal engagement across a wide-array of measures (attentiveness, positivity, head wobbling or ‘talai taḷḷāṭṭam’ in Tamil – a South Indian gesture to signal agreement or understanding – eye contact and end-of-appointment happiness), relative to patients who attended one-on-one appointments. These results shed light on the potential for shared service delivery models to increase customer engagement and enhance service performance.
Bio: Nazlı Sönmez is PhD Candidate in the Management Science and Operations department at London Business School, advised by Prof. Kamalini Ramdas. She also works with Associate Prof. Ryan W. Buell from Harvard Business School and Prof. Sarang Deo from Indian School of Business. Her research goal is to use data and models to better understand operational innovation in healthcare delivery and help solve real problems in this area. Her current research focuses on healthcare delivery interventions for creating better patient outcomes, and access to healthcare through collaborations with the Aravind Eye Hospital, in India and the Cooper University Health Care, in Camden, New Jersey. Prior to starting her PhD, Nazlı got her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Industrial Engineering at Bilkent University, where she received the Academic Excellence in Master of Science Studies award.