Staffing a Call Center with Uncertain Arrival Rate and Absenteeism

Whitt, Ward

This paper proposes simple methods for staffing a single-class call center with uncertain arrival rate and uncertain staffing due to employee absenteeism. The arrival rate and the proportion of servers present are treated as random variables. The basic model is a multi-server queue with customer abandonment, allowing non-exponential service-time and time-to-abandon distributions. The goal is to maximize the expected net return, given throughput benefit and server, customer-abandonment and customer-waiting costs, but attention is also given to the standard deviation of the return. The approach is to approximate the performance and the net return, conditional on the random model-parameter vector, and then uncondition to get the desired results. Two recently-developed approximations are used for the conditional performance measures: first, a deterministic fluid approximation and, second, a numerical algorithm based on a purely Markovian birth-and-death model, having state-dependent death rates.


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Production and Operations Management

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Academic Units
Industrial Engineering and Operations Research
Published Here
September 19, 2017