Appointment Policies in Service Operations: A Critical Analysis of the Economic Framework

Appointment Policies in Service Operations: A Critical Analysis of the Economic Framework

By
Susana V. Mondschein, Gabriel Weintraub
Production and Operations Management . June
2003, Vol. 12, Issue 2, Pages 266-286

In this paper we review the literature on appointment policies, specifically in terms of the objective function commonly used and the assumptions made about the behavior of demand. First, we provide an economic framework to analyze the problem. Based on this framework we make a critical analysis of the objective functions used in the literature. We also question the validity of the assumption made throughout the literature that demand is exogenous and independent of customers’ waiting times. We conclude that the objective functions used in the literature are appropriate only in the case of a central planner facing a demand that is unresponsive to waiting time. For other scenarios, such as a private server facing a demand that does react to waiting time, these objective functions are only shortcuts for the real objective functions that must be used. A more general model is then proposed that fits these scenarios well. Finally, we determine the impact of using the literature’s objective functions on optimal appointment policies.