Design and Innovation Research Seminar | Weatherhead School at Case Western Reserve University

Design and Innovation Research Seminar

Please Don’t Feed the Trolls


Please Don’t Feed the Trolls: The Role of Customer Politeness in Customer Service Engagement on Social Media


Customers are increasingly turning to social media for help. According to a recent report by Twitter, over 5.5M customer service-related tweets are generated per month. In this work, we aim to explore firms’ strategy when engaging complaining customers on Twitter. Specifically, we consider how firms’ customer engagement strategy is influenced by their expectations for how their customer-service interactions will lead to sentiment broadcast about the firm. We particularly focus on how politeness, a linguistic factor indicating how a customer is questioning or complaining rather than the content of a query, affects firms' customer service engagement strategy. We develop a novel machine-learning methodology to measure politeness from tweets. Using this approach, our estimation results show several interesting results, including that firms are more likely to respond to more polite customers, and that this effect is augmented for customers with high social status. However, firms are more likely to engage impolite customers with a high social status in a private channel such as through direct messaging. This behavior is justified by evidence that customer politeness predicts the nature of sentiment customers broadcast about the firm.


I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Information and Decision Sciences at College of Business Administration of University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to joining UIC, I was a Research Staff Member at IBM Research - Almaden in San Jose, California. I obtained my Ph.D in Computer Science from Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, where I worked under Dr. Subbarao Kambhampati. During my graduate school, I did a few fun and fruitful internships at Microsoft Research and Avaya Labs (also a good getaway of Arizona's heat!).

My research interest is on the intersection of Machine Learning, User-generated Content, and Online Markets. My current work focuses on analyzing large-scale and heterogeneous human behaviors on various online platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Indiegogo at both individual and collective levels. My research has been published in premier journals such as MISQ, ACM JDIQ, IEEE TKDE and top conferences such as CHI, ICWSM, IJCAI, and AAAI.

My research has won several awards, including Best Paper Nominations at the ACM CHI conference, INFORMS CIST conference, and INFORMS eBusiness Best Paper Award. The President of Arizona State University Michael Crow wrote me a letter of commendation for my research. My research has also been widely covered by national and international media outlets such as ABC, PBS, WIRED, the Seattle Times, FastCompany, and the Sydney Morning Herald. Besides, my research work has led to two patents granted by USPTO.

Monday, Oct. 1, 2018 from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Peter B. Lewis Building, 120
11119 Bellflower Road
Cleveland, OH 44106-7235
United States
Speaker(s): Yuheng Hu, PhD, University of Illinois
Sponsored by: Design and Innovation Department
Hu Paper


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