Web shoppers behave in a different way after chatting with employees of the other sex, recent research shows – so firms should concentrate

In a digital world where individuals are just pixels on a screen, gender bias can appear in unexpected forms. This is what our research team discovered in a field experiment conducted in the Journal of Operations Management.

When individuals are online, anonymity and physical distance encourage them to behave in biased ways. previous work has shown. As professors who study Business analytics, Information systems, Operations management And Information technologyWe wanted to raised understand how gender bias works online. Therefore, we conducted a seven-month experiment with a web-based platform that provides health-related services and products.

The South Korea-based company, whose identity is to be kept secret, sells weight-management products which can be intended to be taken over several weeks. It also provides personalized dietary advice to users based on age, weight, height, lifestyle and other characteristics, and offers one-on-one consultations to reply customers' questions.

We focused on the platform's chat function, which connects users with paid local advisors who can answer their questions and recommend suitable products. After the exchange, users can rate the advisors.

We found that disclosing an advisor's gender resulted in clients providing more reviews and better rankings, especially when the advisor is a girl. In addition, opposite-gender client-advisor pairings resulted in higher rankings and stronger engagement than same-gender pairings.

Why it can be crucial

Researchers have extensively studied gender bias amongst employers, but bias amongst customers is commonly ignored. Our study delves into this lesser-known territory.

Understanding that gender bias is significant to think about core principles like equality and fairness can also be vital for business reasons. In the service sector, where interaction between employees and customers is essential to success, bias can affect customer satisfaction and ultimately the underside line. The stakes are especially high on online platforms, where matching the suitable service to the suitable user is critical.

When gender influences purchasing decisions, it's not only a social problem, it's also a financial one. Companies that successfully mitigate these biases can increase their profits while unlocking the total potential of their customer base. And understanding these biases is step one to addressing them.

What isn’t yet known

Our research suggests that firms can improve customer satisfaction by acknowledging gender bias. To help firms understand and reply to bias, researchers can take several vital approaches. For example, the mechanisms behind gender bias usually are not yet fully understood. It is significant to analyze why customers may respond more positively to advisors of the other sex and to discover the psychological and social aspects that play a job on this.

Researchers also needs to examine racial, cultural and age-related biases, amongst others. Future studies could examine how these biases interact with one another and what combined mitigation strategies could be effective.

The digital revolution has modified the way in which Americans do business, however it has also created recent challenges. One thing is evident: In the digital age, fighting bias isn’t just an ethical imperative. It is a business necessity.

The Research Brief is a summary of interesting scientific papers.

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