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CCReview - Telephone Call Centers Tutorial Review and...

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Telephone Call Centers: Tutorial, Review, and Research Prospects Noah Gans * Ger Koole Avishai Mandelbaum * The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania,Philadelphia, PA 19104, U.S.A. [email protected] http://opim.wharton.upenn.edu/ gans Vrije Universiteit, De Boelelaan 1081a, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands [email protected] http://www.cs.vu.nl/ koole Industrial Engineering and Management, Technion, Haifa 32000, Israel [email protected] http://ie.technion.ac.il/Home/Users/avim.phtml October 7, 2002 Abstract Telephone call centers are an integral part of many businesses, and their economic role is significant and growing. They are also fascinating socio-technical systems in which the behavior of customers and employees is closely intertwined with physical performance measures. In these environments traditional operational models are of great value – and at the same time fundamentally limited – in their ability to characterize system performance. We review the state of research on telephone call centers. We begin with a tutorial on how call centers function and proceed to survey academic research devoted to the management of their operations. We then outline important problems that have not been addressed and identify promising directions for future research. Acknowledgments The authors thank Lee Schwarz, Wallace Hopp and the editorial board of M&SOM for initiating this project. Thanks are also due to L. Brown, A. Sakov, H. Shen, S. Zeltyn and L. Zhao for their approval of importing pieces of [ 33 , 106 ]. Financial support was provided by NSF Grants SBR-9733739 and DMI-0223304 (N.G. and A.M.), the Wharton Financial Institutions Center (N.G. and A.M.), The Wharton Electronic Business Initiative (N.G.), ISF Grants (A.M., one with N. Shimkin and one with R. Atar), and the Technion funds for the promotion of research and sponsored research (A.M.). Some data originated with member companies of the Call Center Forum at Wharton, to whom we are grateful. Some material was adapted from the Service Engineering site prepared by A.M. and S. Zeltyn ( http://ie.technion.ac.il/serveng/ ). Parts of the manuscript were written while A.M. was visiting the Vrije Universiteit and the Wharton School – the hospitality of the hosting institutions is greatly appreciated. Key Words: telephone call center, contact center, tele-services, tele-queues, capacity management, staffing, hiring, workforce management systems, ACD reports, queueing, Erlang C, Erlang B, Erlang A, QED regime, time-varying queues, call routing, skills-based routing, forecasting, data mining.
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Contents 1 Introduction 1 1.1 Additional Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 1.2 Paper Structure and Reading Guide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 2 Overview of Call-Center Operations 3 2.1 Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 2.2 How an Inbound Call is Handled . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 2.3 Data Generation and Reporting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 2.4 Call Centers as Queueing Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 2.5 Service Quality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 3 A Base Example: Homogeneous Customers and Agents 14 3.1 Background on Capacity Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 3.2 Capacity Planning Hierarchy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 3.3 Forecasting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 3.4 The Forecasting and Planning Cycle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 3.5 Longer-Term Issues of System Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 4
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