This week we have learned Queuing Theory in the class 823.
People are sometimes impatient and it is difficult for them to wait in line to receive services. Queuing Theory is the study of how to make waiting more enjoyable (not quite J but partially maybe). Queuing theory proposes to predict the waiting time in the line. Generally, these predictions are helpful for operations researchers as they can use them to make systems more efficient.
In class, we have talked about several negative stories in which people moved in front of someone or they did not obey the rules while waiting in the line. Unfortunately, the ends of the stories were dramatic. (Eric can tell you more about the stories).
Even though general systems are based on first come first serve, sustainability of this rule is a public issue. People get angry and frustrated and they do not want to wait even a second more. There can be priorities for some people such as individuals with disabilities, elderly, and pregnant women. Moreover, some companies prioritize their customers in service so that those customers feel like they are privileged.
I would like to share one of my personal stories on this topic. About a month ago, while I was traveling, one of my flights was cancelled. This was a connecting flight and since one of them was cancelled I needed to reschedule all of my flights. I called the airline’s help center. I tried to talk to them for a longtime as they were repeatedly checking my information and were trying to find a new flight. Eventually, I was given a new connecting flight after three hours of talking and waiting on the phone. By the way, I should thank them because I listened to their very nice music while waiting and they keep saying me “One moment, please. … Your call is important to us. …. A representative will be with you shortly.” Do you think that this is the end of the story? Of course not!
The next day, I was finally in the airplane and took my first flight. After I completed my first connecting flight, I learned that the airline had not purchased my second flight and instead just reserved it. Therefore, I needed to call them back.
The phone signal was not good at all at the airport. While I was talking with the call center person, my call was dropped… after I had told the story and they were trying to help me. I called them six times and each time the call was dropped. Each time a different person answered my call and each time, I had to tell them the whole story from the beginning.
Finally, they resolved the issue and I was ready for my next flight. However, they spent so much time to confirm my flight by the time they solve the issue, it was too late for the next flight and then I missed that. I took another flight after waiting 7 hours in the airport, but no worries at the end I reached my destination.
As can be understood, the story is not fun when it occurs to you. However, I believe that there is something that we can learn from this experience. After all, it could be good to have a kind of new calling system for companies in which they can dispatch the dropped call to the same employee who was previously talking with the costumer. By doing that, the customer will be more satisfied with the service because they will get faster help that will shorten the waiting time. Importantly, costumers will not have to tell the whole story to every airline operator.
There is a type of Queue called virtual queue, in this type of queue the caller choose to be called back when there is an available server.
One possible solution could be the virtual queue system. The virtual queue system could be adapted to these kind of cases, and if the server need more than certain threshold time, they can give you the option to call you back, when they resolve your problem with the estimated time. Hence the caller will not wait with the phone and the not need to worry about whether the call will be dropped during the waiting time.
I do not know if someone has studied this specific topic. However, according to my experience, it is worth thinking about the possibilities.
I wish there could be days in the future when no one will wait in the line…
Gisby, Doug. “Intelligent virtual queue.” U.S. Patent No. 6,002,760. 14 Dec. 1999.