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Optimization of multi-channel and multi-skill call centers

Abstract : Call centers have been introduced with great success by many service‐oriented companies. They become the main point of contact with the customer, and an integral part of the majority of corporations. The large‐scale emergence of call centers has created a fertile source of management issues. In this PhD thesis, we focus on various operations management issues of multi‐skill and multichannel call centers. The objective of our work is to derive, both qualitative and quantitative, results for practical management. In the first part, we focus on architectures with limited flexibility for multi‐skill call centers. The context is that of call centers with asymmetric parameters: unbalanced workload, different service requirements, a predominant customer type, unbalanced abandonments and high costs of crosstraining. The most knowing architectures with limited flexibility such as chaining fail against such asymmetry. We propose a new architecture referred to as single pooling with only two skills per agent and we demonstrate its efficiency under various situations of asymmetry. In the second part, we focus on routing problems in multi‐channel call centers. In the first study, we consider a blended call center with calls arriving over time and an infinitely backlogged queue of emails. The call service is characterized by three successive stages where the second one is a break. We focus on the optimization of the email routing to agents. The objective is to maximize the throughput of emails subject to a constraint on the call waiting time. Various guidelines to call center managers are provided. In particular, we prove for the optimal routing that all the time at least one of the two email routing parameters has an extreme value. In the second study, we examine a threshold policy on the reservation of agents for the inbound calls. We study a general non‐stationary model where the call arrival follows a non‐homogeneous Poisson process. The optimization problem consists on maximizing the throughput of outbound tasks under a constraint on the waiting time of inbound calls. We propose an efficient adaptive threshold policy easy to implement. This scheduling policy is evaluated through a comparison with the optimal performance measures found in the case of a constant stationary arrival rate, and also a comparison with other intuitive adaptive threshold policies in the general non‐stationary case. In the third study, we consider a call center model with a call back option, which allows to transform an inbound call into an outbound one. The optimization problem consists on minimizing the expected waiting time of the outbound calls while respecting a service level constraint on the inbound ones. We propose a routing policy with two thresholds, one on the reservation of the agents for inbound calls, and another on the number of waiting outbound calls. A curve relating the two thresholds is determined.
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Benjamin Legros. Optimization of multi-channel and multi-skill call centers. Other. Ecole Centrale Paris, 2013. English. ⟨NNT : 2013ECAP0072⟩. ⟨tel-00997410⟩



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