Call centres often experience large fluctuations in demand over relatively short periods of time. However, most centres also need to maintain short response times to the demand. This places great emphasis upon capacity management practices within call centre operations. A total of 12 UK-based call centres from one retail bank were studied to investigate how they managed forecasting, capacity management and scheduling tasks. Provides evidence of the difficulties associated with capacity management in call centres. Regression modelling is used to link forecasting and capacity planning practices to performance. Shows that random variation is a very important factor when assessing call centre performance. The results suggest that call centre managers can have only a small influence upon short-term performance. Existing mathematical models, such as the Erlang queuing system methodologies, have only limited value as the assumptions concerning demand patterns made in their derivation contradict observations made within the 12 sites. Spiked demand patterns present special capacity management problems, including a direct trade-off between high service levels and operator boredom. Conventional methods of flexing capacity cannot respond sufficiently well to some of the short-term fluctuations in demand.
International Journal of Service Industry Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 1, 2000
Keywords: Service operations; Banking; Call centres
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