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predictive dialers and crm software
computer telephony software predictive dialer

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DSC Tech Library

Contact Center Equipment

telecommunications software solution This section of our technical library presents information and documentation relating to Call Center technology and Best Practices plus software and products. DSC is a leading provider of contact center technology and software solutions as well as predictive dialer phone systems for the modern call center. Customer contact center software includes CRM software and computer telephony integration solutions. These modern products help call center phone agents communicate effectively with your customers and prospects.

The following article presents product or service information relating to call centers and customer service help desks.

Call Center Simulation Modeling:
Methods, Challenges, And Opportunities

Page 2

By Vijay Mehrotra, Department of Decision Sciences
College of Business - San Francisco State University

Jason Fama, Engineering Group, Blue Pumpkin Software Inc.

The remainder of this tutorial is organized as follows. In Section 2, we motivate the need for and value of simulation in the context of effective call center management. In Section 3, we discuss how call centers make use of simulation models, focusing on the key output statistics that are used for system performance evaluation. In Section 4, we provide a modeling framework for call center simulation, and discuss the key inputs associated with simulation models, introducing the concepts through the formulation of a simulation model. In Section 5, we discuss business decisions associated with this model and explore some of the results of our analysis. Finally, in Section 6, we propose likely future directions for call center simulation.

Note: Throughout this paper, we will use the term “call center” and focus our discussion on centers that are processing only phone calls (either inbound, outbound, or both). Another common term in this industry is “contact center,” which refers to centers handling not only phone calls but other types of customer contacts such as email, fax, paper, and/or chat sessions. We have chosen to focus on call centers here for clarity of exposition. However, leveraging the ideas presented here from phone-only call centers to multi-channel contact centers is a straightforward extension that we have also engaged in extensively.


Those responsible for managing call centers face a very difficult set of challenges. At a high level, they must strike a balance between three powerful competing interests, as shown in Figure 1 below.

On a day-to-day basis, while simultaneously keeping costs, service quality, and employee satisfaction, these executives and managers must (implicitly or explicitly) answer a number of important questions for which decision support models are valuable:
  • How many agents should we have on staff with which particular skills? How should we schedule these agents’ shifts, breaks, lunches, training, meetings and other activities?
  • How many calls of which type do we expect at which times?
  • How quickly do we want to respond to each type of inbound call?
  • How should we cross-train our agents? How should we route our calls to make the best use of these resources?
  • Given a forecast, a routing design, and an agent schedule, how well will our system perform?
  • What is our overall capacity? How will a spike in call volumes impact our overall performance?
  • How is our center doing right now? What has changed since we did our last forecast and published our schedules? If the changes are significant, what can I do to respond to minimize the impact on the rest of the day or week?
There are a variety of mathematical methods (see Grossman et al. 2001 and Mandelbaum 2001 for more discussion of this) and associated software to help call center personnel as they try to address these types of questions, most notably workload forecasting models based on time series and agent scheduling optimization solutions.

However, over the past several years, simulation has emerged to play an important role in the call center design and management arena.


There are three major ways that simulation is utilized within the call center industry:

    1. Traditional Simulation Analysis - A simulation model is built to analyze a specific operation, with inputs obtained from a variety of data sources, as discussed in Section 4 below.
    2. Embedded Application – ACD/CTI Routing: Many of the leading ACD and CTI applications include a routing simulation to provide insights to routing design engineers about the impact of different decisions.
    3. Embedded Application – Agent Scheduling: Already a complex scheduling problem (see Andrews and Parsons 1989 for a more detailed discussion), optimal call center agent scheduling is even more complex when both calls and agents are nonhomogeneous. Many commercial scheduling software applications, including the one developed by the authors’ company, make use of simulation as part of their overall optimization engine.

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