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Efficiencydriven heavytraffic approximations for manyserver queues with abandonments
 Management Science
, 2004
"... Motivated by the desire to understand the performance of serviceoriented call centers, which often provide lowtomoderate quality of service, this paper investigates the efficiencydriven (ED) limiting regime for manyserver queues with abandonments. The starting point is the realization that, in ..."
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Cited by 47 (31 self)
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Motivated by the desire to understand the performance of serviceoriented call centers, which often provide lowtomoderate quality of service, this paper investigates the efficiencydriven (ED) limiting regime for manyserver queues with abandonments. The starting point is the realization that, in the presence of substantial customer abandonment, callcenter servicelevel agreements (SLA’s) can be met in the ED regime, where the arrival rate exceeds the maximum possible service rate. Mathematically, the ED regime is defined by letting the arrival rate and the number of servers increase together so that the probability of abandonment approaches a positive limit. To obtain the ED regime, it suffices to let the arrival rate and the number of servers increase with the traffic intensity ρ held fixed with ρ> 1 (so that the arrival rate exceeds the maximum possible service rate). Even though the probability of delay necessarily approaches 1 in the ED regime, the ED regime can be realistic because, due to the abandonments, the delays need not be excessively large. This paper establishes ED manyserver heavytraffic limits and develops associated approximations for performance measures in the M/M/s/r + M model, having a Poisson arrival process, exponential service times, s servers, r extra waiting spaces and exponential abandon times (the final +M). In the ED regime, essentially the same limiting behavior occurs when the abandonment rate α approaches 0 as when the number of servers s approaches ∞; indeed, it suffices to assume that s/α → ∞. The ED approximations are shown to be useful by comparing them to exact numerical results for the M/M/s/r + M model obtained using an algorithm developed in Whitt (2003), which exploits numerical transform inversion.
The Modern Call Center: A MultiDisciplinary Perspective on Operations Management Research
"... Call centers are an increasingly important part of today’s business world, employing millions of agents across the globe and serving as a primary customerfacing channel for firms in many different industries. Call centers have been a fertile area for operations management researchers in several dom ..."
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Cited by 36 (0 self)
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Call centers are an increasingly important part of today’s business world, employing millions of agents across the globe and serving as a primary customerfacing channel for firms in many different industries. Call centers have been a fertile area for operations management researchers in several domains, including forecasting, capacity planning, queueing, and personnel scheduling. In addition, as telecommunications and information technology have advanced over the past several years, the operational challenges faced by call center managers have become more complicated. Issues associated with human resources management, sales, and marketing have also become increasingly relevant to call center operations and associated academic research. In this paper, we provide a survey of the recent literature on call center operations management. Along with traditional research areas, we pay special attention to new management challenges that have been caused by emerging technologies, to behavioral issues associated with both call center agents and customers, and to the interface between call center operations and sales and marketing. We identify a handful of broad themes for future investigation while also pointing out several very specific research opportunities.
Staffing of timevarying queues to achieve timestable performance
, 2005
"... Continuing research by Jennings, Mandelbaum, Massey and Whitt (1996), we investigate methods to perform timedependent staffing for manyserver queues. Our aim is to achieve timestable performance in face of general timevarying arrival rates. It turns out that it suffices to target a stable probab ..."
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Cited by 30 (21 self)
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Continuing research by Jennings, Mandelbaum, Massey and Whitt (1996), we investigate methods to perform timedependent staffing for manyserver queues. Our aim is to achieve timestable performance in face of general timevarying arrival rates. It turns out that it suffices to target a stable probability of delay. That procedure tends to produce timestable performance for several other operational measures. Motivated by telephone call centers, we focus on manyserver models with customer abandonment, especially the Markovian Mt/M/st + M model, having an exponential timetoabandon distribution (the +M), an exponential servicetime distribution and a nonhomogeneous Poisson arrival process. We develop three different methods for staffing, with decreasing generality and decreasing complexity: First, we develop a simulationbased iterativestaffing algorithm (ISA), and conduct experiments showing that it is effective. The ISA is appealing because it applies to very general models and is automatically validating: we directly see how well it works. Second, we extend the squarerootstaffing rule, proposed by Jennings et al., which is based on the associated infiniteserver model. The rule dictates that the staff level at time t be st = mt + β √ mt, where mt is the offered load (mean number of busy servers in the infiniteserver model) and the constant β reflects the service grade. We show that the service grade β in the staffing formula can be represented as a function of the target delay probability α by
Engineering solution of a basic callcenter model
 Management Science
, 2005
"... An algorithm is developed to rapidly compute approximations for all the standard steadystate performance measures in the basic callcenter queueing model M/GI/s/r+GI, which has a Poisson arrival process, IID service times with a general distribution, s servers, r extra waiting spaces and IID custom ..."
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Cited by 29 (22 self)
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An algorithm is developed to rapidly compute approximations for all the standard steadystate performance measures in the basic callcenter queueing model M/GI/s/r+GI, which has a Poisson arrival process, IID service times with a general distribution, s servers, r extra waiting spaces and IID customer abandonment times with a general distribution. Empirical studies of call centers indicate that the servicetime and abandontime distributions often are not nearly exponential, so that it is important to go beyond the Markovian M/M/s/r + M special case, but the general servicetime and abandontime distributions make the realistic model very difficult to analyze directly. The proposed algorithm is based on an approximation by an appropriate Markovian M/M/s/r + M(n) queueing model, where M(n) denotes statedependent abandonment rates. After making an additional approximation, steadystate waitingtime distributions are characterized via their Laplace transforms. Then the approximate distributions are computed by numerically inverting the transforms. Simulation experiments show that the approximation is quite accurate. The overall algorithm can be applied to determine desired staffing levels, e.g., the minimum number of servers needed to guarantee that, first, the abandonment rate is below any specified target value and, second, that the conditional probability that an arriving customer will be served within a specified deadline, given that the customer eventually will be served, is at least a specified target value.
Heavytraffic limits for the G/H∗ 2 /n/m queue
 Math. Oper. Res
, 2005
"... We establish heavytraffic stochasticprocess limits for queuelength, waitingtime and overflow stochastic processes in a class of G/GI/n/m queueing models with n servers and m extra waiting spaces. We let the arrival process be general, only requiring that it satisfy a functional central limit th ..."
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Cited by 28 (12 self)
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We establish heavytraffic stochasticprocess limits for queuelength, waitingtime and overflow stochastic processes in a class of G/GI/n/m queueing models with n servers and m extra waiting spaces. We let the arrival process be general, only requiring that it satisfy a functional central limit theorem. In order to capture the impact of the servicetime distribution beyond its mean within a Markovian framework, we consider a special class of servicetime distributions, denoted by H ∗ 2, which are mixtures of an exponential distribution with probability p and a unit point mass at 0 with probability 1 − p. These servicetime distributions exhibit relatively high variability, having squared coefficients of variation greater than or equal to one. As in Halfin and Whitt (1981), Puhalskii and Reiman (2000) and Garnett, Mandelbaum and Reiman (2000), we consider a sequence of queueing models indexed by the number of servers, n, and let n tend to infinity along with the traffic intensities ρn so that √ n(1 − ρn) → β for − ∞ < β < ∞. To treat finite waiting rooms, we let mn / √ n → κ for 0 < κ ≤ ∞. With the special H ∗ 2 servicetime distribution, the limit processes are onedimensional Markov processes, behaving like diffusion processes with different drift and diffusion functions in two different regions, above and below zero. We also establish a limit for the G/M/n/m + M model, having exponential customer abandonments.
A diffusion approximation for the G/GI/n/m queue
 Operations Research
"... informs ® doi 10.1287/opre.1040.0136 © 2004 INFORMS We develop a diffusion approximation for the queuelength stochastic process in the G/GI/n/m queueing model (having a general arrival process, independent and identically distributed service times with a general distribution, n servers, and m extra ..."
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Cited by 26 (7 self)
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informs ® doi 10.1287/opre.1040.0136 © 2004 INFORMS We develop a diffusion approximation for the queuelength stochastic process in the G/GI/n/m queueing model (having a general arrival process, independent and identically distributed service times with a general distribution, n servers, and m extra waiting spaces). We use the steadystate distribution of that diffusion process to obtain approximations for steadystate performance measures of the queueing model, focusing especially upon the steadystate delay probability. The approximations are based on heavytraffic limits in which n tends to infinity as the traffic intensity increases. Thus, the approximations are intended for large n. For the GI/M/n/ � special case, Halfin and Whitt (1981) showed that scaled versions of the queuelength process converge to a diffusion process when the traffic intensity �n approaches 1 with �1 − �n � √ n → � for 0 <�<�. A companion paper, Whitt (2005), extends that limit to a special class of G/GI/n/mn models in which the number of waiting places depends on n and the servicetime distribution is a mixture of an exponential distribution with probability p and a unit point mass at 0 with probability 1 − p. Finite waiting rooms are treated by incorporating the additional limit mn / √ n → � for 0 <� � �. The approximation for the more general G/GI/n/m model developed here is consistent
The modern callcenter: A multidisciplinary perspective on operations management research
"... Call centers are an increasingly important part of today’s business world, employing millions of agents across the globe and serving as a primary customerfacing channel for firms in many different industries. Call centers have been a fertile area for operations management researchers in several are ..."
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Cited by 24 (4 self)
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Call centers are an increasingly important part of today’s business world, employing millions of agents across the globe and serving as a primary customerfacing channel for firms in many different industries. Call centers have been a fertile area for operations management researchers in several areas, including forecasting, capacity planning, queueing, and personnel scheduling. In addition, as telecommunications and information technology have advanced over the past several years, the operational challenges faced by call center managers have become more complicated as a result. Issues associated with human resources management, sales, and marketing have also become increasingly relevant to call center operations and associated academic research. In this paper, we provide a survey of the recent literature on call center operations management. Along with traditional research areas, we pay special attention to new management challenges that have been caused by emerging technologies, to behavioral issues associated with both call center agents and customers, and to the interface between call center operations and sales and marketing. We identify a handful of broad themes for future investigation while also pointing out several very specific research opportunities.
Realtime delay estimation based on delay history
, 2007
"... Motivated by interest in making delay announcements to arriving customers who must wait in call centers and related service systems, we study the performance of alternative realtime delay estimators based on recent customer delay experience. The main estimators considered are: (i) the delay of the ..."
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Cited by 8 (4 self)
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Motivated by interest in making delay announcements to arriving customers who must wait in call centers and related service systems, we study the performance of alternative realtime delay estimators based on recent customer delay experience. The main estimators considered are: (i) the delay of the last customer to enter service (LES), (ii) the delay experienced so far by the customer at the head of the line (HOL), and (iii) the delay experienced by the customer to have arrived most recently among those who have already completed service (RCS). We compare these delayhistory estimators to the estimator based on the queue length (QL), which requires knowledge of the mean interval between successive service completions in addition to the queue length. We characterize performance by the mean squared error (MSE). We do analysis and conduct simulations for the standard GI/M/s multiserver queueing model, emphasizing the case of large s. We obtain analytical results for the conditional distribution of the delay given the observed HOL delay. An approximation to its mean value serves as a refined estimator. For all three candidate delay estimators, the MSE relative to the square of the mean is asymptotically negligible in the manyserver and classical heavytraffic limiting regimes.
Steadystate analysis of a multiserver queue in the HalfinWhitt regime
, 2008
"... We examine a multiserver queue in the HalfinWhitt (Quality and EfficiencyDriven) regime: as the number of servers n increases, the utilization approaches 1 from below at the rate Θ(1 / √ n). The arrival process is renewal and service times have a latticevalued distribution with a finite suppor ..."
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Cited by 8 (0 self)
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We examine a multiserver queue in the HalfinWhitt (Quality and EfficiencyDriven) regime: as the number of servers n increases, the utilization approaches 1 from below at the rate Θ(1 / √ n). The arrival process is renewal and service times have a latticevalued distribution with a finite support. We consider the steadystate distribution of the queue length and waiting time in the limit as the number of servers n increases indefinitely. The queue length distribution, in the limit as n → ∞, is characterized in terms of the stationary distribution of an explicitly constructed Markov chain. As a consequence, the steadystate queue length and waiting time scale as Θ ( √ n) and Θ(1 / √ n) as n → ∞, respectively. Moreover, an explicit expression for the critical exponent is derived for the moment generating function of a limiting (scaled) steadystate queue length. This exponent depends on three parameters: the amount of spare capacity and the coefficients of variation of interarrival and service times. Interestingly, it matches an analogous exponent corresponding to a singleserver queue in the conventional heavytraffic regime. The results are derived by analyzing Lyapunov functions.
Multiclass multiserver queueing system in the halfinwhitt heavy traffic regime. asymptotics of the stationary distribution. Queueing Systems 71
, 2012
"... We consider a heterogeneous queueing system consisting of one large pool of O(r) identical servers, where r → ∞ is the scaling parameter. The arriving customers belong to one of several classes which determines the service times in the distributional sense. The system is heavily loaded in the Halfi ..."
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Cited by 4 (0 self)
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We consider a heterogeneous queueing system consisting of one large pool of O(r) identical servers, where r → ∞ is the scaling parameter. The arriving customers belong to one of several classes which determines the service times in the distributional sense. The system is heavily loaded in the HalfinWhitt sense, namely the nominal utilization is 1 − a / √ r where a> 0 is the spare capacity parameter. Our goal is to obtain bounds on the steady state performance metrics such as the number of customers waiting in the queue Q r (∞). While there is a rich literature on deriving process level (transient) scaling limits for such systems, the results for steady state are primarily limited to the single class case. This paper is the first one to address the case of heterogeneity in the steady state regime. Moreover, our results hold for any service policy which does not admit server idling when there are customers waiting in the queue. We assume that the interarrival and service times have exponential distribution, and that customers of each class may abandon while waiting in the queue at a certain rate (which may be zero). We obtain upper bounds of the form O ( √ r) on both Q r (∞) and the number of idle servers. The bounds are uniform w.r.t. parameter r and the service policy. In particular, we show that lim sup r E exp(θr − 1 2 Q r (∞)) < ∞. Therefore, the sequence r − 1 2 Q r (∞) is tight and has a uniform exponential tail bound. We further consider the system with strictly positive abandonment rates, and show that in this case every weak limit ˆ Q(∞) of r − 1 2 Q r (∞) has a subGaussian tail. Namely E[exp(θ ( ˆ Q(∞)) 2)] < ∞, for some θ> 0. 1