Progressive Educationat U.S. Airways
Repatriation of the previously off-shored call center operations of the US Airlines was being completed in the summer of 2011. Reservation Director of the East Region considered this to be an opportunity to high quality and faster service to the "preferred customers" by establishing a preferred customer desk at the Winston-Salem Center. The headquarters has asked the director to provide an in-depth analysis of the proposal's costs and benefits before it can be approved. The wider question of the case is to cogitate whether this initiative has merit. Is it likely to provide enough advantages (both quantifiable such as shorter average wait times and non-quantifiable such as the perception by the customers of the service quality) to justify any additional personnel costs? The call centers operate 24/7 and experience varying call volumes. This causes the required number of agents to economically achieve some targeted average wait times to greatly fluctuate during each time increment (e.g., each hour). Therefore the case, more narrowly, focuses on the challenges of (1) the fundamental trade-off between wait times and agent utilization; and (2) scheduling of the start times of the standard 8-hour shifts to provide adequate coverage during each period. The Instructor's manual provides extensive analyses based on multi-server queuing models and linear programming of these technical issues. In addition, the case provides rich opportunities to discuss human resource strategies and their role in securing competitive advantage.