Call Center Labor Cross-Training: It's a Small World after All

Management Science Vol. 53, No. 7, Complex Systems (Jul., 2007), pp. 1102-1112

University of Alberta School of Business Research Paper No. 2013-1049

Posted: 2 Jul 2013

See all articles by Seyed Iravani

Seyed Iravani

Northwestern University - Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences

Bora Kolfal

University of Alberta - Department of Accounting, Operations & Information Systems

Mark P. Van Oyen

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Date Written: June 1, 2013

Abstract

It is well known that flexibility can be created in manufacturing and service operations by using multipurpose production sources such as cross-trained labor, flexible machines, or flexible factories. We focus on flexible service centers, such as inbound call centers with cross-trained agents, and model them as parallel queueing systems with flexible servers. We propose a new approach to analyzing flexibility arising from the multifunctionality of sources of production. We create a work sharing (WS) network model for which its average shortest path length (APL) metric can predict the more effective of two alternative cross-training structures in terms of customer waiting times. We show that the APL metric of small world network (SWN) theory is one simple deterministic solution approach to the complex stochastic problem of designing effective workforce cross-training structures in call centers.

Suggested Citation

Iravani, Seyed and Kolfal, Bora and Van Oyen, Mark P., Call Center Labor Cross-Training: It's a Small World after All (June 1, 2013). Management Science Vol. 53, No. 7, Complex Systems (Jul., 2007), pp. 1102-1112, University of Alberta School of Business Research Paper No. 2013-1049, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2279613

Seyed Iravani (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences ( email )

Evanston, IL 60208-3119
United States

Bora Kolfal

University of Alberta - Department of Accounting, Operations & Information Systems ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R6
Canada

Mark P. Van Oyen

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

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