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Practical scheduling for call center operations


  • Dietz, Dennis C.


A practical spreadsheet-based scheduling method is developed to determine the optimal allocation of service agents to candidate tour types and start times in an inbound call center. A stationary Markovian queueing model with customer abandonment is employed to determine required staffing levels for a sequence of time intervals with varying call volumes, handling times, and relative agent availabilities. These staffing requirements populate a quadratic programming model for determining the distribution of agent tours that will maximize the fraction of offered calls beginning service within a target response time, subject to side constraints on tour type quantities. The optimal distribution is scaled to reflect the total number of scheduled agents, and a near-optimal integer solution is derived using rounding thresholds found by successive one-dimensional searches. This novel approach has been successfully implemented in large service centers at Qwest Communications and could easily be adapted to other operational environments.

Suggested Citation

  • Dietz, Dennis C., 2011. "Practical scheduling for call center operations," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 39(5), pages 550-557, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jomega:v:39:y:2011:i:5:p:550-557

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Willie B. Henderson & William L. Berry, 1976. "Heuristic Methods for Telephone Operator Shift Scheduling: An Experimental Analysis," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 22(12), pages 1372-1380, August.
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    3. Muhlemann, AP, 1981. "A simulation study of the operations of a telephone bureau," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 9(6), pages 633-637.
    4. J. G. Church, 1973. "Sure Staf: A Computerized Staff Scheduling System for Telephone Business Offices," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 20(4-Part-II), pages 708-720, December.
    5. Ingolfsson, Armann & Amanul Haque, Md. & Umnikov, Alex, 2002. "Accounting for time-varying queueing effects in workforce scheduling," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 139(3), pages 585-597, June.
    6. Lawrence Brown & Noah Gans & Avishai Mandelbaum & Anat Sakov & Haipeng Shen & Sergey Zeltyn & Linda Zhao, 2005. "Statistical Analysis of a Telephone Call Center: A Queueing-Science Perspective," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 100, pages 36-50, March.
    7. Gary M. Thompson, 1995. "Improved Implicit Optimal Modeling of the Labor Shift Scheduling Problem," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 41(4), pages 595-607, April.
    8. Zohar Feldman & Avishai Mandelbaum & William A. Massey & Ward Whitt, 2008. "Staffing of Time-Varying Queues to Achieve Time-Stable Performance," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 54(2), pages 324-338, February.
    9. O. Garnet & A. Mandelbaum & M. Reiman, 2002. "Designing a Call Center with Impatient Customers," Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, INFORMS, vol. 4(3), pages 208-227, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stolletz, Raik & Manitz, Michael, 2013. "The impact of a waiting-time threshold in overflow systems with impatient customers," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 280-286.
    2. Schwarz, Justus Arne & Selinka, Gregor & Stolletz, Raik, 2016. "Performance analysis of time-dependent queueing systems: Survey and classification," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 170-189.
    3. Van den Bergh, Jorne & Beliën, Jeroen & De Bruecker, Philippe & Demeulemeester, Erik & De Boeck, Liesje, 2013. "Personnel scheduling: A literature review," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 226(3), pages 367-385.
    4. Ağralı, Semra & Taşkın, Z. Caner & Ünal, A. Tamer, 2017. "Employee scheduling in service industries with flexible employee availability and demand," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 66(PA), pages 159-169.
    5. Defraeye, Mieke & Van Nieuwenhuyse, Inneke, 2016. "Staffing and scheduling under nonstationary demand for service: A literature review," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 4-25.


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