A queueing analysis of customer support forums: The joiner paradox

Wael Jabr, Radha Mookerjee, Vijay Mookerjee

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


User forums have become a popular alternative to traditional customer support channels such as help desks. Firms benefit from user forums by having some support requests diverted away from their costly help desk and thus have incentives to maintain these forums vibrant and resourceful. Therefore, understanding the dynamics of problem resolution becomes an important area of study. In this paper, we concentrate on one specific aspect of this issue, namely the delay incurred by users to obtain a solution. Using real datasets from user support forums of two major IT vendors we find the difference in delay incurred by those users who initiate threads and those who join midway in the life of a thread. We find that joiners suffer a bigger delay before receiving a solution than initiators. We explain this counter-intuitive result using queuing theory to model the resolution process in the user forum. The empirical findings together with the theoretical analysis provide us with some interesting managerial implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2010
Event20th Annual Workshop on Information Technologies and Systems, WITS 2010 - St. Louis, MO, United States
Duration: Dec 11 2010Dec 12 2010


Other20th Annual Workshop on Information Technologies and Systems, WITS 2010
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySt. Louis, MO

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems

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