Operational challenges in the call center industry: A case study and resource-based framework

Academic Article


  • Purpose - The purpose of this conceptual paper is to examine key operational tradeoffs and challenges that call center managers face. Design/methodology/approach - To support the concepts advanced in this paper, an embedded case study is used from an inbound call center for a regional wireless phone company that operates in the USA. The research involved: a review of available service quality and call center management literature; development of a resource-based framework to understand key operational tradeoffs; use of a case study approach with structured interviews of key managers and employees; and synthesis of this data in order to understand why and how these managers made key operational tradeoff decisions. The case study was done on an inbound customer service call center for a regional wireless phone company that operates in the Southeastern USA. Findings - This research suggests that there are four key resource management decisions that must be addressed in order to improve service quality and effectively manage call center operations: the efficient deployment and use of labor, effective leveraging of technology, capacity management, and demand management. Research limitations/implications - The use of a single case approach limits the generalizability of results; however, this methodology is effective in providing rich data and a research framework to both build theory and advance future research in this arena. Practical implications - It is noteworthy that while technology, capacity management, and demand management systems are essential, labor remains a key differentiator in achieving high service quality. A call center must provide dependable service with knowledgeable, honest, polite and empathetic employees who can efficiently answer customers' questions while also promoting more products and services to improve profitability. Originality/value - While this research is primarily conceptual, it also uses a case study to explain why and how managers make key tradeoffs in order to compete effectively on service quality in the call center industry.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Jack EP; Bedics TA; McCary CE
  • Start Page

  • 477
  • End Page

  • 500
  • Volume

  • 16
  • Issue

  • 5