Scheduling Homogeneous Impatient Customers

36 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2013 Last revised: 3 Jul 2015

Date Written: April 20, 2015


Customer impatience has become an integral component of analyzing services, especially in the context of call centers. Typically, when customers arrive to such systems, they seem identical or homogeneous, however, from the system's perspective, as they wait in the queue, their residual willingness to wait changes. For instance, a customer who has already waited for 10 minutes may have a different residual willingness to wait as compared with a customer who has only waited for 1 minute. In this manner, as time progresses, customers become differentiated on their estimated patience levels. We exploit this dimension of customer heterogeneity to construct scheduling policies in overloaded systems that dynamically prioritize customers based on their time in queue in order to optimize any given system performance metric. Interestingly, the optimal policy has a very simple structure, and we find that implementing it can lead to significant improvements over the first come first serve policy.

Keywords: scheduling, control, reneging, abandonment

JEL Classification: C44, C61

Suggested Citation

Bassamboo, Achal and Randhawa, Ramandeep S., Scheduling Homogeneous Impatient Customers (April 20, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Achal Bassamboo

Northwestern University - Department of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences (MEDS) ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Ramandeep S. Randhawa (Contact Author)

University of Southern California ( email )

Marshall School of Business
BRI 401, 3670 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics