Call Center Terminology
Call Center Terminology 101:
Abandoned After Threshold
A key performance indicator (KPI) measuring number of calls disconnected after waiting in queue beyond a previously established time threshold. It is important to measure versus calls where immediate customer hang-ups do not reflect an adequate opportunity for performance.
Abandoned Before Threshold
A key performance indicator (KPI) measuring number of calls disconnected before reaching a previously established time threshold.
A phone call that has been received by a call center’s communications switch, but is terminated by the caller before any conversation begins
The percentage of callers who hang up before a Brand Specialist answers, or before they make a selection in an interactive voice response (IVR) unit. The inverse of answer rate.
See automatic call distribution.
Codes that indicate the state of a Brand Specialist that are usually initiated by the Brand Specialist.
See after-call work.
Also known as compliance, adherence measures the ability of a Brand Specialist to stay committed to his or her schedule. Also used to measure the Brand Specialist’s ability to adhere to a script, message, policy, practice or process as trained.
After-Call Work (ACW)
The Brand Specialist activity that directly follows a call, email, chat, social media or SMS inquiry. ACW encompasses data-entry, activity codes, dispositions, form completion and post-call communication.
Also known as a telephone/customer service representative (CSR) or Brand Specialist. An agent handles customer interactions and contacts in the call center.
Often conveyed as a percentage, agent availability is a measure of the time that Brand Specialists are available to accept inbound calls.
The amount of time a Brand Specialist is actively in talk time or after-call work versus idle (waiting for a call), frequently expressed as a percentage. To calculate agent occupancy, the total handle time is divided by the reporting period.
The functional state of a Brand Specialist, be it available, on call, off-phone work or other designation.
Measured as a percentage or in raw time, utilization compares a Brand Specialist’s in-call and/or after-call work time to their total logged or clocked time.
See average handle time.
Analytics (Contact Center Analytics)
Using a variety of methods to collect customer data across all platforms in an effort to identify customer needs, increase customer engagement, optimize call center performance and increase customer satisfaction levels. Often used in reference to the visual representation of data driven insights. See business analytics.
See automatic number identification.
A pre-recorded directive played to callers. May include pre-interactive voice response brand promotions, as an example.
Number of calls answered by Brand Specialists in comparison to the number of calls offered.
The signal sent by the automatic call distributor (ACD) or other device to the local or long distance carrier to accept a call and begin applying long-distance charges, when applicable.
See average order value.
Application-Based Routing and Reporting
The capability of the automatic call distributor (ACD) to route and track transactions by type of call, or application (sales or service, for example), versus the traditional method of routing and tracking by trunk group and Brand Specialist group.
Software applications for mobile devices that allow users to perform particular functions. Brands and e-commerce companies, for instance, provide apps to customers to facilitate purchases and service.
The fundamental structure of a system. This establishes the workings of all the components necessary to the system and how they are integrated.
The ability of a computer to mimic human cognitive skills such as learning and understanding. This is an existing entry – this adds only the (AI).
See average speed of answer.
See average talk time.
System configuration to ensure Brand Specialists are automatically made available after wrapping up a call and disconnecting.
Directly related to auto available, auto wrap-up conversely puts a Brand Specialist into after-call work as opposed to available. Brand Specialists are required to put themselves back into available states promptly after completing after-call work.
A telephone processing system that offers callers a recorded menu of choices designed to direct their call to the desired party. For instance, a recording will direct the caller to press one for customer service, press two to place an order and then connect them to the party they have chosen. See interactive voice response.
A prerecorded salutation that plays automatically when a call is answered.
Automatic Call Distributor (ACD)
A specialized phone system used for handling incoming calls. The ACD recognizes an incoming call and scans for predetermined identifying information. This information is cross-referenced against a database of call routing instructions and distributes the call accordingly.
Automatic Dialer (Auto Dialer)
A phone system used to dial outbound calls from a call list, and route the answered calls to Brand Specialists.
Automatic Number Identification (ANI)
A protocol for providing phone number information to a receiving phone system, such as an automatic call distributor (ACD). ANI essentially functions as caller ID, often delivered via tonal frequencies carried over the phone line.
Auxiliary Work State
A time in which a Brand Specialist performs tasks other than taking calls, such as sending emails or preparing paperwork. During this time, Brand Specialists will not receive calls.
Describes a Brand Specialist’s status while signed into the automatic call distribution (ACD) system and ready to take a call.
Status in which a Brand Specialist is able to take calls.
Average After-Call Work Time (AWT)
Also known as not-ready time, this is the average amount of time Brand Specialists work on customer accounts after ending a call, thus being unavailable to answer another call.
Average Call Value
Total revenue divided by total number of calls for a given period of time.
Average Contacts Per Hour
The number of contacts that a Brand Specialist handles divided by the number of hours the Brand Specialist works.
Average Delay of Delayed Calls (DEADLY)
The average wait callers experience when awaiting connecting with a Brand Specialist.
Average Delay to Abandon
The average time callers wait before the call is abandoned.
Average Delay to Answer
Metric used to calculate the average time a call remains in the queue until a Brand Specialist has picked it up. This is also called average speed of answer.
Average Handle Time (AHT)
A key performance indicator, AHT measures the average length of an interaction, including hold time, talk time and after-call work.
Average Order Value (AOV)
Sales metric providing insight into cost of a typical order, calculated as total sales revenue divided by total number of orders. A key performance indicator in sales-focused contact center programs.
Average Speed of Answer (ASA)
Metric used to calculate the average time a call remains in the queue until a Brand Specialist has picked it up. This is sometimes called average delay.
Average Talk Time (ATT)
Normally expressed in minutes and seconds, this measures the time spent speaking with a customer. It is one component of average handle time (AHT).
See average after-call work time.
The minimum number of Brand Specialists necessary to maintain service levels over a given period of time.
Basic Rate Interface (BRI)
One of two basic levels of integrated services digital network (ISDN) service. A BRI line provides two bearer channels for voice and data and one channel for signaling (commonly expressed as 2 B+D). See primary rate interface (PRI) and integrated services digital network (ISDN).
Setting points of reference from which measurements, comparisons and evaluations will be made. In call centers, benchmarking refers to standards set for comparison of staffing, processes and assistance with other organizations or industries to evaluate and identify improvement opportunities in one’s own organization. This may also apply to key performance indicators.
Procedures or methods that are accepted as the most effective to achieve an objective.
High-volume data that can be analyzed to understand behaviors, relationships and trends.
Blended Call Center
A call center handling a mix of different contact types, such as inbound and outbound calls, emails, chats, social media and SMS.
A scenario in which phone lines or other communication channels are filled to capacity with in-progress and queued contacts, potentially causing additional inbound contacts to be blocked.
A call that is unable to be completed because of a busy condition.
See Business Process Outsourcing
The customer passion and confidence that compels them to repeatedly return to purchase from a company’s brand over time.
The strong feeling of enthusiasm, excitement and devotion that a Brand Specialist, customer or others have for a brand. The commitment to represent the brand and the ability to assist and satisfy the brand’s customers.
The tangible and intangible value of a brand, how it is perceived by the population and the mission statement that upholds the brand. This element should be considered during every interaction.
Also known as a telephone/customer service representative (CSR) or agent, a Brand Specialist handles customer interactions and contacts in the call center.
See basic rate interface.
Brick and Mortar
The physical building or facilities in which a company does business, as opposed to online or virtual operations. Brick and mortar can refer to a traditional business, or the physical facilities of a company that also has e-commerce or mobile operations.
Data analysis techniques that drive empirical insights (see Analytics), used to support various business functions. Example applications include predictive modeling for sales projections and staffing requirements, decision analysis for capital expenditures, and consumer insight analysis to enable precision-targeting in marketing initiatives.
Business Continuity Plan
An organized plan for routing calls to a different site in case of an emergency or disaster. Also called a disaster recovery plan, it provides contingencies for a variety of additional functions in the call center in the event of emergency as well.
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)
Contracting a business function, such as finance, human resources or contact center services, to a third-party provider.
Business to Business (B2B)
Describes inbound and/or outbound contacts that are generally between businesses.
Business to Consumer (B2C)
A term used to describe inbound and/or outbound contacts that are primarily between an enterprise and an individual consumer.
A study provided by a telephone carrier that shows the number of calls attempting to be connected on incoming trunks. Also shows the percentage of attempts that failed due to insufficient trunk capacity, resulting in a busy signal to the caller.
The process of aligning performance with the prescribed quality level to achieve the desired goals.
The method of organizing the inbound/outbound flow of calls, as well as emails, chats and other interactions, to a set of Brand Specialists. Contact blending can be accomplished manually or by means of automated systems that route the contacts to the Brand Specialists within a specified skillset utilized to improve efficiency.
In accordance with real-time conditions, call-by-call routing is the method of directing calls to the optimal destination. See percent allocation and network inter-flow.
An operation combining human, technical and physical resources to field inbound and/or place outbound phone calls. Call centers support a number of different industries and functions, and often handle contacts via channels beyond the telephone, including email, chat, social media and SMS. Call centers deploy technological solutions and operational processes to distribute contacts to teams of Brand Specialists, often located in one or more locations. Also see contact center.
Call Center Attrition
Brand Specialist turnover in the call center environment. Attrition generally does not include adjustments in personnel for seasonal or other volume fluctuations.
Call Center Forecasting
Calculations based on rigorous mathematics and experience that are used to predict call volume. The expected volume is in turn used to project the required staffing in the given time. Many different factors can affect the forecast, including seasonality, marketing, promotions and organic brand growth.
Call Center Service Level
Can refer generally to agreed-upon levels of service in either an outsourced or internal call center environment. The term service level also commonly refers to the specific metric measuring the percentage of calls answered within a predetermined time threshold. For example, an 80/20 service level refers to a target of 80 percent of inbound calls being answered within 20 seconds.
The end of a call between a customer and agent, or Brand Specialist, which may include elements on the agent’s part such as a thank you and a question of whether there is anything more they can do to assist.
The act of controlling the flow of a conversation, usually by asking questions.
Call Control Variables
A gauge for judgment used to process calls. Includes routing criteria, overflow parameters, recorded announcements and timing thresholds.
Call Detail Recording
Data on each call, acquired and stored by the automatic call distributor (ACD). Includes trunk used, time in queue, call duration, Brand Specialist who handled the call, number dialed (outgoing) and other information.
The reasons for which customers make calls to a contact center. Drivers can also apply to other channels, such as email, chat or social media.
An automatic call distribution (ACD) feature that automatically delivers calls to Brand Specialists who are available and ready to take calls. The Brand Specialist hears a notification that the call has arrived (a beep tone, for instance), but does not have to press a button to answer the call.
This is the salutation to the customer at the start of a call with a Brand Specialist, or agent. The basic call opening may include a welcome, the company’s name and the agent’s name, but can include elements to reflect contact center culture or other information deemed important enough to be stated at the onset of a call.
A tool (or template) that outlines the natural flow of the call, providing Brand Specialists with questions to ask and product information to assist them with call control. Call guides are often put online in a computer application.
The amount of time it takes to process one customer interaction, generally expressed as an average. See average handle time.
Limiting the number of incoming callers that can get through the switch at one time. This may be used when demand far exceeds planned forecast. The customer may hear a fast busy signal during this time.
This is the salutation to the customer at the start of a call with a Brand Specialist, or agent. The basic call greeting may include a welcome, the company’s name and the agent’s name, but can include elements to reflect contact center culture or other information deemed important enough to be stated at the onset of a call.
Storing data from phone interactions, often with the goal of being able to provide additional training to the Brand Specialist by monitoring for quality control, all in an effort to enhance customer satisfaction. Additionally, call recording also can be used as documentation of a transaction, offer, action to be taken by both or either parties or a conversation.
Call Review Assessment
An assessment of a Brand Specialist’s call-handling proficiency, usually scored and conducted by a member of a call center quality assurance team.
The plan or approach that a Brand Specialist will take in handling a customer call. Includes the desired outcome of the call.
The duration of a call. See average handle time.
The telecommunications technique that sends a customer call from its current destination to another phone location, which can be another agent, supervisor or a device. Transfers can be unannounced, which is called a cold transfer, or announced, which is called a warm transfer.
Using the telephone keypad, callers can enter digits to navigate a directory or leave a request for callback message.
Displays a caller’s information on the telephone or on a separately attached screen. This allows the receiving end to identify who is trying to contact them. Important to consider company branding on outbound calls.
Calling Line Identity (CLI)
This, essentially, is caller ID, which delineates a caller’s information on the telephone or on a separately attached screen. See automatic number identification.
A variable in call center metrics that represents the volume of calls answered from the queue before being dropped.
Calls In Queue
A real-time report on the number of calls received by the automatic call distribution (ACD) system but not yet connected to a Brand Specialist.
Number of calls available for answer. Key indicator of staff required to satisfy call volume.
Calls Per Agent
A metric based on the calculation of dividing the calls handled by the total number of Brand Specialists taking calls in a particular time.
A business that supplies telecommunications circuits, or carries signals between two points. It can include both domestic and international providers.
Managing a set of customer service relationships, which will begin from initial contact interaction until the last communication has been completed and the customer is completely satisfied. Similar to CRM.
See centum call seconds.
Central Office (CO)
Can refer to either a telephone company switching center or the type of telephone switch used in a telephone company switching center. The local central office receives calls from within the local area and either routes them
locally or passes them to an inter-exchange carrier (IXC). On the receiving end, the local central office receives calls that originated in other areas, from the IXC.
Centum Call Seconds (CCS)
Centum is 100 call seconds. Widely considered a unit of telephone traffic calibration. 1 hour = 1 Erlang = 60 minutes = 36 CCS.
See customer effort score.
Paths of communication, such as phone, email, chat and social media. In retail, it can also be used to define delivery method.
Like an instant message system, this allows any logged-in computer Brand Specialist and customer to have a written conversation online and in real-time.
A computer program that replicates conversation via internet messaging, sometimes used in e-commerce, call centers and customer service as a virtual agent to provide information on a limited topic.
Facilitates a network to transmit information between two points.
Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise
A Cisco Systems product that provides call center computer telephony integration, contact routing and multichannel contact management. It includes automatic call distributor functions and IP telephony.
See calling line identity.
Click to Chat
A service that facilitates an online chat, or instant message conversation, about a product or service, typically initiated via icon or a website.
An arrangement of computers and computer systems that all share an infrastructure in which their capabilities and devices are combined.
The retail practice of building customer relationships by suggesting purchase selections based on data from previous purchases. Another layer of personal touch that can apply in communications on any channel.
See collaborative browsing.
The process of optimizing Brand Specialist and program performance through positive reinforcement and encouragement. Conducted in conjunction with call monitoring and quality assurance evaluation sheets to assist in identifying opportunities for improvement.
This is the telecommunications technique that sends a customer call from its current destination to another phone location or agent unannounced. The cold transfer is simply switched from one phone to another without any introduction of caller to the next agent.
Synchronized internet browsing by at least two people, known as co-browsing. This can be used by Brand Specialists to guide customers in website navigation. The difference between co-browsing and similar internet communication tools like screen sharing is that both participating parties may have control over the browsing window.
Business activities that don’t require phone calls. These duties can be allotted to improve utilization.
A group within a call center program that has responsibility for such workforce management functions as real-time schedule adherence, agent skilling, scheduling, forecasting and reporting.
Command Center Analysts
People within a contact center Command Center who assess real-time reporting and situations to make workforce adjustments as needed.
Causes of variation that are inherent to a process over time. They cause the rhythmic, common variations in the system of causes and they affect every outcome of the process and everyone working in the process. See special causes.
The act of fulfilling official or government requirements and regulations in the call center. For instance, Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards require measures that include protecting financial transactions and credit card information
A call that has undergone total treatment by a Brand Specialist.
Used to predict a future occurrence, usually quantitatively, using multiple variables. Designed to test solution outcomes based on possible or probable events.
Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)
The amalgamation of the telephone and computer system, which holds the database from which the company functions. This provides for smoother negotiation and handling.
Brand Specialists who assist customers with a wide range of services related to the company or product, often going beyond what is expected to satisfy the request.
The capability of the automatic call distributor (ACD) to route calls or contacts on an “if…then” basis. Routing conditions can include any day of week, time of day, Brand Specialist availability, type of call and service needed.
Any action taken by a customer to express their questions, concerns or comments about a product, service, policy or action taken by a Brand Specialist in an effort to meet the needs of the customer.
Any communication between a customer or prospect and a Brand Specialist, primarily through a call, email, chat, fax, letter, social media or SMS.
Usually synonymous with call center. A contact center will handle email, chat, social media, SMS and faxes – not just calls. The International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) defines a contact center as a coordinated system of people, processes, technologies and strategies that provides access to information, resources and expertise, through appropriate channels of communication, enabling interactions that create value for the customer and organization.
Contact Center Management
As defined by the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), the art of having the right number of properly skilled people and supporting resources in place at the right times to handle an accurately forecasted workload, at service level and with quality.
A system that tracks lines of communication to organize call center information. Processed through software applications.
Describes preliminary actions to be taken in the case of unfavorable situations within a business. Defines actions to be taken and by whom in terms of prevention, reaction and recovery.
A service used by call centers in which staff from separate sources are employed to work in the call center. The staff recruited and trained by the contract staffing agency consists of employees of that agency rather than employees of the call center. This strategy may be deployed during business peaks.
A measure of a Brand Specialist’s sales proficiency. The number of sales made divided by the number of calls taken. The conversion rate can also measure qualified leads, surveys, memberships and pledges, among others.
Conversational commerce involves using technologies such as chat and messaging to connect the consumer with brands, companies and services via artificial intelligence, or bots. Chris Messina, formerly of Uber, is frequently credited with creating the term.
Cost Benefit Analysis
A study quantifying the costs and benefits of a decision or project over a specified period of time, as well as the costs and benefits of the alternatives.
Cost Per Call
A metric used by calculating the total cost of running a call center divided by the number of calls handled in a given period.
Rather than remaining on hold, callers have the option of using their telephone keypad to leave a message or a telephone number for subsequent callback from a Brand Specialist.
See customer relationship management.
To increase order value, complementary or support items are offered to a customer that are likely to be purchased. The customer receives products that are of use to their purchase and the call center increases the value of the order.
Cross Sell Matrix
Selection of items in a sales environment determined to have a superior rate of conversion based on the customers’ browsing experiences and/or purchase decisions. The cross sell matrix is a useful tool in ecommerce support and sales contact centers, allowing Brand Specialists to tailor product suggestions to specific customer behavior. The cross sell matrix functions as a tool to boost cart size and average order value.
CSAT See customer satisfaction score.
See customer service representative.
Web click-to-call. Also see web click-to-talk.
See computer telephony integration.
See web click-to-talk.
The unique environment or personality of a call center, based on beliefs and approaches that manifest throughout the center.
Individuals or organizations that purchase from your company.
Customer service that creates high levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty.
A business strategy that is concentrated on the customer’s needs and satisfaction.
Customer Effort Score (CES)
A customer satisfaction survey used to measure the degree of effort the customer felt they had to expend to resolve their issue. The second version of the survey asks the customer to agree or disagree to the statement that the organization made it easy for them to handle their issue. The first version of CES asks the customer to rate the amount of effort they had to put forth to handle their request.
Customer Experience (CX)
The culmination of a brand interaction. The specific outcome and the corresponding emotional reaction that results from a customer’s interaction with a Brand Specialist. The goal of a Brand Specialist is to satisfy customers and go beyond, creating experiences in which customers feel that their well-being is the top priority for both the Brand Specialist and the brand.
The total of all experiences a customer has during their interactions with a company or Brand, as opposed to the experience from one contact for a single transaction.
Customer Journey Mapping
Graphically depicting the story of the customer’s entire experience with an organization that identifies key interactions and discusses the customer’s feelings and motivation. A customer journey map helps the organization learn about its customer and provides insight into gaps in the experience that can be used to improve the process.
Customer Lifetime Value (LTV)
A company’s revenue or profit from transactions with a customer over the lifetime of the relationship.
One of three levels of value in the call center, providing distinguished service that improves customer retention and transforms customers into advocates, according to the International Customer Management Institute. The other two levels are efficiency and strategic value.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
The strategy of identifying customer needs, improving customer interactions and customizing contacts, sales approaches and automation to provide optimum service to each type of customer to maximize the bottom line benefits to the organization. It is a broad term that takes into account people, processes and technology related to the acquisition and retention of customers, and the maximization of the value of each customer relationship.
The degree to which a customer feels their expectations have been fulfilled by a company’s products and services.
Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
Represents customer satisfaction. CSAT, used to calibrate the product delivered against the customer’s anticipation for the product, is expressed as a percentage with 100 percent reflecting complete customer satisfaction. There can be a large discrepancy between the CSAT scores of companies even within the same industry. When comparing scores, it is necessary to investigate the process in which the scores and benchmarks are assigned.
Working on behalf of and for the satisfaction of a customer.
Customer Service Contact Center
A center that serves as an enterprise’s central point for the management of all customer service contacts, interactions and customer relationship management (CRM).
Customer Service Representative (CSR)
One who handles customer calls and contacts. He or she answers any inquiries, dissatisfaction or support calls. Also known as Brand Specialist or agent in a contact center.
See customer experience.
See direct to consumer.
A display of data indicating an overview of key performance indicators. A collection of statistics measuring performance aggregated for viewing to identify insights.
This occurs when the data severely deviates from the usual path. Data aberrations should not be included when attempting to forecast.
Data Directed Call Routing
The process whereby an automatic call distributor (ACD) can route a call based on data provided by a caller and matched with information that resides in a separate data system. For example, when a caller inputs an account number on the keypad of their phone, the number is sent to a data system, where it is matched to existing data. Once identified and validated, the call is distributed to a Brand Specialist group specifically skilled to handle that account or call type.
Describes the detection of trends in customer data over a period of time.
A centralized data storage environment with the capability of integrating multiple data sources.
A software application that allows for the storing and compilation of data collected over time.
Database Call Handling
An application where the automatic call distributor (ACD) processes calls using information available in a database. For example, when a caller inputs an account number on the keypad of their phone, it is sent to a data system, where it is matched with existing data. Once a match is identified and validated the process can be configured to handle the call any number of ways. Options include routing the caller to a specifically skilled group that handles that account type, determining if priority should be given to a caller, or even determining which pre-recorded announcements the caller should hear.
Usually used when Brand Specialists are not available. Day-of-week routing may direct calls to alternate sites or groups based on the date (holidays, weekend days, for instance).
What callers on hold listen to as they await a Brand Specialist, often containing product and promotional information.
Refers to the time callers are waiting for a Brand Specialist to connect and answer. During this time the caller may be listening to delay announcements. This measurement does not include the time they spend interacting with an automated attendant.
Software that facilitates tasks necessary for an enterprise to function. Some desktop applications may include applications to check inventory, order history, billing history, shipment tracking, as well as email, chat, word processing and database programs.
Dialed Number Identification Service (DNIS)
This helps a call center manage multiple programs or companies and identify how to answer the phone for a specific program or client. DNIS is essentially caller ID, which helps determine what number was dialed by a caller.
Direct to Consumer (D2C)
Describes the business relationship of selling directly to the consumer without an intermediary.
Disaster Recovery Plan
An organized, planned design for routing calls to a different site in case of an emergency or disaster. Also called a business continuity plan, it provides contingencies for a variety of additional functions in the call center in the event of emergency as well.
See average delay of delayed calls.
See dialed number identification service.
See dynamic network routing.
Detailed note-taking to record the elements of each customer interaction in a contact center. Such documentation is critical in order to allow a different agent, who may later interact with the same customer, to understand the discussion that transpired during earlier transactions.
Do Not Call List
A nation-wide registry of phone numbers that telemarketers, or any organization that generates automated or live calls that are not deemed an emergency, may not contact. Individuals opt out of receiving these calls.
Directives that affect a potential outcome, which may or may not be controlled by management and staff.
Dynamic Network Routing (DNR)
A service provided by telephone companies that allows the call center to dynamically change where calls are routed.
Electronic Commerce. Trade carried out via an electronic network, mainly the internet
Economies of Scale
A concept based on the premise that businesses do well and can become more efficient when larger group sizes are used.
Using resources in the most cost-effective manner. One of three levels of value in the call center, according to the International Customer Management Institute.
The calibration of costs and opportunities in a call center. Calculations based on the effectiveness of a result based on the effort required to deliver the result.
Learning by using an electronic means, such as internet or online classes.
Messages distributed by electronic means from one computer user to one or more recipients.
End Of Call Disposition
A call status labeling process that indicates the primary reason for the call and its result. This process may also include the next action to be taken, such as an appointment scheduled, and email, catalog or updated documents to be sent.
A purposeful over-scheduling of Brand Specialists above a forecasted number of incoming calls that will also allow the call center manager to blend the team and have some of the group work on extraneous work such as outgoing calls or emails.
Equivalent Random Theory
A traffic engineering model that is used in a peak traffic situation, such as calls responding in an all-or-nothing fashion to television advertising. Statistically speaking, equivalent random theory is used in a traffic situation where the variance-to-mean ratio (VMR) is greater than one.
A unit of measure used in telecommunications to denote the optimal traffic capacity or load in a given service element, such as a circuit or a switch. Expressed in terms of time, assuming no call blockage due to uneven arrival patterns, a capacity of one Erlang equates to 60 minutes of traffic per hour; as arrival pattern complexity increases, blocking theory comes into play, and additional service elements will be required to ensure optimal call distribution (see Erlang models, Erlang-Engset).
An additional variation on the Erlang models, Erlang-Engset defines a finite number of available resources, making it more useful for outbound programs or other smoother applications that are sequential rather than random.
A set of techniques for managing distribution of call traffic, Erlang models were developed by Danish mathematician A.K. Erlang in the early 1900’s (see Erlang). The Erlang B model helps determine the resources required to clear all calls based on a certain level of call volume using automatic route selection in a PBX. Extended Erlang B builds on this methodology by accounting for retries on blocked calls. Erlang C assumes blocked calls will wait in a queue, and as such is widely used in determining call center staffing requirements.
The number of faulty transactions or the number of faulty decisions made in a transaction.
A plan for managing a call queue when it builds beyond planned levels. This also applies to situations in which a call cannot be resolved at the first point of contact and must be passed to a representative with additional permissions or resources to better assist the caller.
A short, concise statement defining the key objectives of a report.
A quantitative method used to forecast call center activities by correlating two or more variables.
A social media platform where friends, families and co-workers can connect. Direct posts on one’s page can only be made and received by Facebook friends, facilitating more privacy than on Twitter. Common platform for enterprise social media customer care. See social media customer care.
Facebook Comments on Wall Posts
On Facebook, friends can comment on posts on a page where the user can respond with a comment as well. This is a forum that can be used for customer care.
A post via Facebook conveying dissatisfaction.
Facebook Private Messages
On Facebook, communication that occurs privately, not on someone’s wall.
Technology that scans, encodes and transmits a document over a telecommunications circuit, reproducing it in original form at the receiving end.
Fast Clear Down
An immediate disconnection by the caller when they hear a delay announcement.
See Federal Communications Commission.
See first call resolution.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
This government organization regulates interstate communications.
File Transfer Protocol
Commonly used protocol for transferring files over the internet.
Calls that attempt connection on a group of trunks for the first time. Traffic engineering is based on first attempt traffic, as compared to offered or carried load.
First Contact Resolution (FCR)
Properly diagnosing and resolving the customer’s issues on the initial point of contact. This customer relationship metric illustrates the quality of service customers are receiving by measuring how often their issues are resolved on the first point of contact. Typically supported with a CRM or Case Management application.
An image-hosting website in support of social media, Flickr is used by photo bloggers and video hosts to share personal and corporate photos. See social media customer care.
A step-by-step diagram that is used to document a process. Can be used to document a plan for a client’s process or review past business transactions.
Flushing Out the Queue
The redirection or rerouting of callers to a different group to avoid a lengthy queue, giving callers the opportunity to be connected and speak with a Brand Specialist in less time than the original queue.
See full-time equivalent.
See file transfer protocol.
Full Coverage Scheduling
A schedule type that facilitates coverage of every half-hour period.
Full-Time Equivalent (FTE)
A full-time equivalent equals one employee working full-time. The formula to determine the number of FTE positions required for a specific program: Total FTEs equals total number of scheduled work hours divided by number of hours one full time person will work per week. For instance, a program that requires 800 scheduled work hours a week and a 40-hour fulltime work week will require 20 full-time equivalent Brand Specialists. (800/40=20). An FTE calculation can also take into account staffing situations in which the combined weekly work hours of several part-time people equal the hours of a full-time person.
The process of starting with an annual forecast and narrowing the scope to a smaller monthly, then weekly, then daily, then half-hour forecast.
A technique to determine the steps needed to move a project or business from its current form to a desired state or goal.
An automatic call distributor (ACD) routing division that allows contacts arriving on specific telephone trunks or by transaction type to be routed and answered by specific groups of Brand Specialists. Also referred to as split or group.
Global Response is The Brand Call Center. Our Brand Specialists represent some of the world’s top brands, providing high-touch customer service, live chat support, email response and social media management. Our brand passion drives every customer experience and is backed with top-rated technology, advanced performance management, reporting and analytics. At Global Response, your brand is our passion.
See grade of service.
Grade of Service (GOS)
A measurement of how many calls are answered and how many are abandoned, expressed as a percentage.
A handle, or a nickname, is a public username on the internet. Twitter is one of the popular social media sites that uses handles. To mention another Twitter user in a post, use the @ symbol followed by their handle, or username.
When a Brand Specialist receives and handles a call.
The time a Brand Specialist spends taking a call, doing after-call work, handling any necessary and extraneous details, and the time it takes for the technology to process the work.
Facilitating conversation on Twitter or Instagram, the hashtag uses the pound (#) symbol to indicate a trending topic. The # symbol is placed before the word with no spaces (for instance: The #internet is expansive).
A call center typically set up to handle calls in support of a product or service. Used most often to describe the customer support operation of computer software or hardware suppliers.
Used to track a call center’s and Brand Specialist’s performance over a given period of time. Reports may be generated by automatic call distributors (ACDs), third-party ACD software packages and call detail recording systems.
The number of successes achieved as a percentage of the total number of attempts for an activity. For instance, if 10 consumers are contacted and four choose to buy a product, the success ratio or hit rate is 40 percent.
An agent who works from home or another location outside of a call center’s central location.
Time that is not spent on a call or doing after-call work. Expressed as a percentage of logged in time.
The method used to electronically store documents as an archive in a system. This is usually done by scanning the documents.
A law of nature that can’t be changed. In a call center, for instance, one immutable law is that, at a given call load, when service level increases, occupancy decreases.
Incoming calls, emails, chats, social media or SMS inquiries that are initiated by customers and prospects.
Sales opportunities that are initiated by incoming calls, emails, chats, social media or SMS inquiries from customers and prospects.
Incoming Call Center Management
The recruiting and selection of an agreed number of experienced Brand Specialists along with the support of ample technological resources to handle a forecasted workload qualitatively.
Incremental Revenue (Value) Analysis
A cost- and revenue-based method of analysis that is used to assist in the decision-making process to add Brand Specialists to the team or to reduce the number of team members.
In forecasting, a proportion used as a multiplier to adjust another number.
Similar to an automated attendant, an information mailbox directs callers to a pre-recorded menu system. This is often used to give callers directions to a website, provide hours of operation, offer instructions or anything else that can be done without the need for human interaction.
Information Technology (IT)
Involves computer systems and applications, especially their augmentation, establishment and implementation.
A social media photo-sharing app available for download on smartphone and tablet devices. Followers see their friends’ photos on their feeds and vice versa. Anyone can comment and like a photo. See social media customer care.
On Instagram, the ampersat (@) is used in front of a user’s handle to tag them in a photo and copy their response to the photo.
Instructor-led classroom training
Training of agents, or Brand Specialists, that is conducted by a human teacher onsite in the contact center or at a designated location, as opposed to interactive or online training.
Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)
International objectives assigned to telephone transmission which provides a digital network, out-of-hand signaling and greater bandwidth than older telephone services. Basic rate interface (BRI) and primary rate interface (PRI) are the two standard levels of ISDN.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
An automated retrieval and processing device that provides information to callers via telephone keypad signaling and/or voice recognition. The response may be a recorded, artificial or synthesized voice. Common applications include bank by phone, check on my order and store locator.
Calls that are manually or automatically rerouted from the contact center to a different site. This usually occurs when an automatic call distribution (ACD) group cannot handle every call coming in due to an excessive amount of calls. See overflow and intraflow.
Internal Help Desk
When more complex calls are received by a Brand Specialist group (Tier 1), the calls may be escalated to another team (Tier 2) that is trained to handle this higher level of call. The Tier 2 team may take over the call or provide information to the Brand Specialist group (Tier 1) to contact the customer and resolve the case.
Internal Response Time
A measure of the time taken for an escalation team or other support group to handle an assigned transaction. Often defined by key performance indicators (KPIs) that are unique to the specific function.
Internet “Call Me” Transaction
This allows a customer to receive a call from the call center via an internet option while they explore a website. Interconnection of the automatic call distribution (ACD) system requires an internet gateway.
Rather than using the long-distance network, online users can make calls via the internet.
Calls that are manually or automatically rerouted to a different group of Brand Specialists.
When callers are waiting to be connected with a Brand Specialist and are unaware of how long they will be on hold and waiting in a queue. In this case, the call center does not provide any insight as to how long the wait will be.
See integrated services digital network.
An international standard for the creation and maintenance of a quality assurance system within a company.
See interactive voice response.
A programming language developed by Sun Microsystems.
Java Telephony Application Programming Interface (JTAPI)
A Java-based computer program for telephone applications, such as placing, answering or dropping a call.
A written summary of the role and duties of a specific position. The description may include information such as job title, purpose, responsibilities, tasks, working conditions and designated supervisors.
An assessment of the relative value of jobs in an organization for the purpose of determining levels of compensation.
See Java telephony application programming interface.
Based more on attitudinal than statistical factors, judgmental forecasting encompasses opinions and beliefs as a basis for predicting what will occur. Intuition, interdepartmental committees, market research and executive opinion are all integral to judgmental forecasting.
Key Performance Indicator (KPI)
Calibrates performance of an organization through the monitoring and analysis of integral metrics.
A telephone’s dialing pad.
See Knowledge Management System.
Knowledge Management System
In relation to handling customer interactions, this system maintains a database of relevant knowledge used to assist the Brand Specialist when providing information to a caller such as product information, cost, warranty, company policies, installation, usage and maintenance.
See key performance indicator.
Labor Saturation Rate
The rate that measures to what degree a job already exists in a certain population. It is commonly used to measure to what degree qualified staff may be available in a certain labor market. It is calculated by dividing the number of specific positions into the number of people in the working population for that area. A labor saturation rate of less than 2 percent is considered to be desirable in finding needed staff, while a labor saturation rate of more than 5 percent may indicate that not enough qualified workers will be available.
A call-handling technique that emphasizes listening and interaction with the customer for better call control. The steps include Listen, Acknowledge, Make a Statement and Ask a Question. Designed by Judy McKee of McKee Motivation.
See local area network.
The final segment of a shipment’s journey to the customer.
Law of Diminishing Returns
Refers to marginal improvements in a service level. With each added Brand Specialist, after a certain level of success and achievement, the rate of improvement in results slows.
See longest delay in queue.
See local exchange carrier.
Lifetime Value (LTV)
A company’s revenue or profit from transactions with a customer over the lifetime of the relationship.
Like an instant message system, this allows Brand Specialists and customers to have a written conversation online and in real-time.
Real-time observation and evaluation of calls, emails, chats and social media interactions in an effort for program management to quantify and score the way a Brand Specialist represents the brand, listens to the customer and assesses the steps needed to assist the caller, and whether the desired result was achieved by the end of the call. For the purposes of quality assurance and coaching.
Juggling contacts between queues and Brand Specialist groups.
Local Area Network (LAN)
An integrated system of computers inside a building, enabling computers to share information. See wide area network.
Short-distance calls that when made within a specified region are not charged additional tolls.
Local Exchange Carrier (LEC)
Provides local phone call service and calling capacities. Long-distance calls are provided within the local or regional area.
This indicates that Brand Specialists have signed on, even though they may or may not be able to receive calls.
Calls that are longer than 30 minutes. Name used for calibration and traffic engineering purposes.
A phone call made outside a specified local area with a toll applied.
Longest Available Agent
When a Brand Specialist has been sitting idle for a longer period of time than anyone else, they are considered to be the longest available Brand Specialist. When calls are distributed to the group they become the next available agent.
Longest Delay in Queue (LDQ)
The longest time a caller waits in queue before they are connected and speak with a Brand Specialist.
Before routing or overflowing a call, a system can look ahead to determine the availability of a trunk or Brand Specialist group.
Lifetime value. A company’s revenue or profit from transactions with a customer over the lifetime of the relationship.
Mobile commerce. Electronic trade conducted over cell phones, tablets or other devices.
Market research reports produced by Gartner Inc. that rate vendors in specific technology industries, ranking them from highest- to lowest-scoring as Leaders, Challengers, Visionaries or Niche Players.
A Brand Specialist status that excludes the specialist from accepting incoming contacts.
Management by Walking Around (MBWA)
When a manager or supervisor physically walks through the contact center to oversee contact handling and performance.
A company hired in an effort to target the most profitable markets, promote awareness and conversion.
Master Service Agreement (MSA)
A contract negotiated between parties to specify terms that will govern future transactions.
Maximum Delay to Abandon
The longest time a customer waited without being connected to a Brand Specialist before hanging up, or disconnecting, the call.
Maximum Delay to Answer
The longest time a customer waited in queue before being assisted by a Brand Specialist.
See management by walking around.
A unit of measurement for any given performance calculation. How performance in a contact center is measured. Some examples of metrics include average handle time and schedule adherence.
Software that moderates between hardware and software on a network. This allows the two to work more cohesively together.
A broad, general statement that declares an organization’s aim and how it will go about achieving it.
The ability to move freely and easily as it relates to cellular smart phones, tablets, handheld computers and similar technology.
Converts analog signals to digital ones, as well as vice versa. Contraction of the terms modulator and demodulator.
The process of observing and evaluating calls, emails, chats and social media interactions in an effort for program management to quantify and score the way a Brand Specialist represents the brand, listens to the customer and assesses the steps needed to assist the caller, and whether the desired result was achieved by the end of the call.
See multiprotocol label switching.
See master service agreement.
A market strategy that uses multiple independent channels to reach a customer, such as brick-and-mortar, catalog, or website.
A combination of different methods used to communicate information. A regular phone call is referred to as mono-media, and a video call is referred to as multimedia.
Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS)
A data transporting method for telecommunications networks that speeds and shapes network flow by avoiding complex routing lookups.
See net promoter score.
Net Promoter Score
NPS is a leading growth indicator based on a survey that asks customers how likely they are to recommend a brand to friends and colleagues, on a scale of 0 to 10. The respondents are divided into three categories: promoters, who score 9-10 and are loyal enthusiasts; passives, who score 7-8 and are satisfied but unenthusiastic; and detractors, who score 0-6 and are unhappy customers who can damage reputation and growth with negativity. NPS equals the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors. The score can range from -100 to 100.
Network Control Center
Central location in a networked contact center environment for monitoring inbound traffic patterns and adjusting staffing, skill groups and technical resource allocations to achieve required service levels.
A technology used in multi-site call centers to create a more efficient distribution of calls between sites. Through integration of sites using network circuits (such as TI circuits) and automatic-call-distributor (ACD) software, calls routed to one site may be queued simultaneously for Brand Specialist groups in remote sites. See call-by-call routing and percent allocation.
Next Available Agent
Refers to the first available Brand Specialist a contact is routed to in a queue.
Noise Canceling Headset
Headsets that minimize background noise in an effort to increase the focus of a Brand Specialist to better assist a customer.
Non-ACD in Calls
Inbound calls that are directed to a Brand Specialist’s extension, rather than to a general group. These may be calls from customers who dial the Brand Specialists’ extension numbers or personal calls.
Non-Productive Agent Time
Time for which Brand Specialists are being paid but are not on the phones – also called off-phone time. Includes time spent in meetings, training sessions and on breaks.
Not Ready State
The state of a Brand Specialist who is not currently available to take calls.
The percentage of time a Brand Specialist is logged in and available to accept incoming calls, email, chat, social media and SMS inquiries or other tasks versus the time that they are logged in and idle, waiting for the next interaction. This calculation can be obtained by dividing workload hours by staff hours.
Offered calls are those received by the automatic call distributor (ACD), whether they have been answered or abandoned. It is important to note how your organization or outsourcing partner is specifically counting offered calls. Some may start at the switch level, before the call reaches a recorded message and others may start the count after. Note that in the latter case, blocked calls or busies may not be counted.
A period of time when the call center is not at its busiest. Organizations may often use off-peak time for ongoing training workshops, team-building exercises and meetings. When planning staffing needs, organizations should take into account call activity during peak and off-peak times.
An extension of the multichannel approach, emphasizing the synergies across all channels for an enhanced shopping and customer care experience whether the customer is shopping online from a personal computer or mobile device, by telephone, or in a store. For example, a customer can purchase an item online and then pick it up at the brick-and-mortar location.
The process of bringing a new employee, client or customer into the folds of a company, by showing them the ropes of their job, the culture of the company or the way a company works in partnership with its clients. Onboarding may involve formal orientation and training, or a series of events designed to bring the personnel up to speed and able to work as part of the relevant team.
Online Review Management
The process of managing, curating and responding to online customer reviews and comments to protect a brand’s reputation. Online reviews are written by customers commenting on services or products and are accessible to potential customers for use as guidance in making purchasing decisions.
A customer contact that is awaiting completion.
Contacts made by Brand Specialists to reach customers and prospects. Includes calls, emails and chats. The opposite of inbound.
Outsourced Call Center
A partnered, external institution that handles all or some aspects of the customer service experience, which may include interactions by phone, email, chat, social media and SMS on behalf of a company or organization.
Contracting with an outside company to handle some or all of an organization’s contacts with customers and prospects.
Calls that are rerouted to another group of Brand Specialists or site in the effort to balance a workload resulting in the reduction of delay to answer a call. See interflow and intraflow.
A set of instructions used by an automated outbound dialer to determine when to initiate a call attempt. Dialing systems can speed up when too many idle Brand Specialists are detected or slowed down when Brand Specialists are engaged on calls.
A principle named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto that defines the distribution of wealth or other assets or activities as an 80/20 relationship – that 80 percent of effects are from 20 percent of the causes. The Pareto rule can be applied in various ways. For instance, it might be used to indicate that 80 percent of a company’s revenue is generated by 20 percent of its customers; or 80 percent of a company’s business is generated by 20 percent of activities.
A strong emotional feeling of enthusiasm, excitement and devotion to a brand. The commitment to represent the brand and the ability to assist and satisfy the brand’s customers.
Payment card industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)
Information security standards for companies and agencies that accept major credit cards.
See private branch exchange.
A private branch exchange that is equipped with automatic call distributor capacity.
See Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.
When the volume of contacts is at its highest level in a defined timeframe, often reflecting seasonality for a particular program or industry at a call center. For instance, peak season for retailers each year runs from about Thanksgiving to the beginning of the new year.
When traffic is at its pinnacle for a telecommunications system.
A surge in call volume at a call center beyond a random variation within a short period of time. In statistical terms, the variance-to-mean ratio of peaked traffic is greater than one.
A service that lets two individuals interact directly online without a go-between.
A routing strategy used by multi-site contact center operations. Contacts in the network are routed to various sites based on user-defined percentages and capacity.
A form of additional compensation directly linked to an employee’s performance.
The process of managing the work effort of individual employees for the purpose of achieving a company or organization’s goals.
An ideal set of behaviors and goals defined for employees and managers. Goals to be achieved, behaviors to be followed.
A photo-based social networking site in which users pin ideas on their boards. Topics include apparel, food, art, games, photography and décor. See social media customer care.
Calculating a single-value approximation from a sample of data. For instance, a survey shows that 300 of 400 people support a particular issue. A point estimate of supporters is .75. Point estimation is among the methods used in call centers to forecast workload, projecting a prediction from historical data.
Formula used to calculate trunks. It is based on the assumption that callers will keep retrying to get connected if they are at first unsuccessful, which can result in an overestimation of trunks required.
The principle states that movement toward consolidating resources results in improved traffic-related efficiency. Conversely, moving away from resource consolidation results in reduced traffic-related efficiency.
A device used to automate the way outbound calls are made. Calls are distributed to Brand Specialists when a live customer or prospect answers. Predictive dialing can be configured to screen out other responses, such as answering machines, busy signals and operator intercepts, while recording the results. The dialer takes into account the number of available Brand Specialists, the number of lines, talk time and the likelihood of call results to determine how many calls need to be made to maximize Brand Specialist output. May be integrated to a CRM tool to process results.
A dialer initiates a call, but then aborts the incomplete call when it determines that there are no Brand Specialists available to speak with a customer or prospect.
A preview dialer is a device that displays an account’s information and phone number on the Brand Specialist’s screen, allowing them to decide whether to instruct the dialer to call the customer or prospect.
See primary rate interface.
Primary Rate Interface (PRI)
PRI is a level of integrated services digital network (ISDN). It supplies 23 bearer channels for voice and data and one channel for signaling information (23B+D) in the United States. PRI supplies 30 bearer lines (30B+D) in Europe.
Private Branch Exchange (PBX)
A telephone exchange, or switch, positioned on the call center premises and connected to the public network.
An exclusive use of a network made up of circuits for a particular organization or group of associated organizations. These are usually for larger enterprises and can be regional to international.
Probability of Delay
The number of calls delayed longer than 0 seconds divided by the total number of calls.
A series of actions to identify, analyze and improve a company’s processes to achieve greater efficiencies, based formally or informally on DMAIC, the central tool in the Six Sigma process that stands for define, measure, analyze, improve and control
An approach to creating more effective and efficient workflows to accomplish an organization’s goals.
A graph that conveys a business process from beginning to end.
The act of acquiring or buying goods or services from an external source, often by a bidding process.
This dialer type displays account information and the phone number on a telephone screen. Considered to be more automated than a preview dialer but less than a predictive dialer.
The frequency or pattern of business driven by marketing.
See public switched network.
See public switched telephone network.
Public Relations Agency
A company hired in an effort to establish and maintain a favorable image of an organization to the public.
Public Switched Network (PSN)
The aggregate of the world’s circuit-switched telephone networks that are operated by national, regional, or local telephony operators, that provide the infrastructure and services for public telecommunication.
Public Switched Telephone Network (PSN or PSTN)
See public switched network.
See quality assurance.
QA Evaluation Sheets
Forms used for quality assurance monitoring and assessment of Brand Specialist interactions with customers. The forms provide a performance checklist that is both a guide for Brand Specialists and for the individual evaluating them.
The activities put in place by a company or organization to ensure that the quality requirements for a product or service are achieved.
An employee or consultant with responsibility for reviewing processes and procedures of a company.
The process of reviewing calls, emails, chats, social media and SMS inquiries and screen activity to make sure that all processes and production meet standards and the brand message is being presented properly. Brand Specialists can be monitored or from a remote location.
Use of statistical evidence as the basis to predict future events. Time series and explanatory approaches are the two major sectors of quantitative forecasting.
Sequencing process where a call, email, chat, social media or SMS inquiry is held until a Brand Specialist is available to accept the interaction.
A tool used for sophisticated mathematical modeling when calibrating staffing and trunking requirements. This is done when evaluating a variety of staffing, service and cost tradeoffs.
The buildup of all related functions to support a planned event, such as an increase in the volume of a client’s business and/or the number of its Brand Specialists.
Random Call Arrivals
The manner in which a call center receives calls, not based on any kind of pattern or interval system.
Also called display boards or wall displays, reader boards are visual displays, usually wall-mounted, that provide real-time and historical information on queue conditions, Brand Specialist status and call center performance.
The status of a Brand Specialist who is currently available to take calls
Measures the degree to which a Brand Specialist performs to the work schedule planned for them. The automatic call distributor (ACD) can display real-time statistics to convey the current state of a Brand Specialist. Adherence is determined by comparing a Brand Specialist’s active state to his or her schedule.
Immediate notification of key measures used to provide insight into the business.
Specific information that is requested and is delivered immediately after collection. With real-time data there is no delay in the timeliness of the information provided. Compilations of information can be based on ongoing and current conditions. This could account for calls, emails, chat, social media and SMS inquiries in queue or the current longest wait, for instance.
In response to current queue conditions, making adjustments to staffing and thresholds in the systems and network.
Calls that are received and taken by a trunk, which can either be answered by a Brand Specialist or abandoned.
A preplanned announcement that a caller will hear, usually while waiting in queue. The message may provide general information about products or services, indicate heavy call volume, provide estimated wait time, or request callback during off-peak hours. Recordings can also be used before a call connects to a Brand Specialist previewing what may be discussed and what information the caller may need to have ready once connected.
An employee with responsibility for hiring staff by collecting and evaluating resumes, conducting interviews, completing background checks and recommending qualified candidates.
The process of calling again after a previous attempt to connect has failed.
Changing processes dramatically in an attempt to increase the efficacy and efficiency of a service.
An agent who works outside of the contact center. He or she is usually connected via telecommunications links that provide voice and data pathways. The agent can work on a fixed full time schedule or on an as-needed basis.
An employee responsible for producing content reports based on information captured in the call center’s systems.
Request for Proposal (RFP)
A request made by an organization for a supplier of a service to submit a business proposal outlining its costs and capabilities. The subjects may include company background, core competencies, references, recruiting, training, workforce management, technology, telecom, data security and the business continuity plan.
The time it takes to respond to a request for service. Response time can refer to contacts that don’t have to be handled immediately, such as email, and can be expressed as follows: 99 percent of contacts handled within X minutes or hours.
Abbreviation for responsible organization. RespOrgs are organizations that have access to the SMS/800 database, which contains information regarding the status of all toll free numbers, and can assign toll free numbers, according to the Federal Communications Commission. RespOrgs, which are certified by the SMS/800 database administrator, need not be a telephone company.
Retention Rate, Customer
The percentage of customers who remain customers over a specified period of time. A related term is save rate, which is the percentage of customers over a specified period of time who called to cancel their service, subscription or membership, but decided to remain a customer after speaking with a Brand Specialist.
Retention Rate, Employee
The percentage of employees who remain with a company during a specified time. The Society for Human Resource Management provides the following formula to calculate retention rate: Number of employees employed for entire measurement period divided by number of employees at start of measurement period multiplied by 100. Also see, attrition rate and turnover.
When, after receiving a busy signal, a caller dials again in an attempt to make contact.
A method used to calibrate trunks and various other system resources. The calibration is based on the assumption that a few callers will try to reach the call center again if they receive busy signals.
The activities necessary to guide the processes governing the return of merchandise.
Making money or profit from a product or service provided. See also up-selling.
Used to calibrate revenue in a call center. Necessary for determining revenue allocation.
See request for proposal.
A setting to adjust the number of rings before a call is automatically answered by an automated attendant or the caller is given a busy signal. The delay is used in calculating trunk hold time.
Rostered Staff Factor (RSF)
The minimum staff needed to reach a required service level and response time objectives. Base staff calibration precedes RSF calibration and covers breaks, absenteeism, ongoing training and various other factors. Also called an overlay, shrink factor or shrinkage.
Round Robin Distribution
The method of distributing phone calls, emails, chats, social media or SMS inquiries within a contact center. The next interaction in is routed to the next available Brand Specialist on the skillset list. See next available agent and longest waiting agent.
See rostered staff factor.
When measuring the correlation between numerical data, a scatter diagram conveys the relationship between one variable on one axis and a second variable on a second axis. If the variables are correlated, the points will fall along a line or a curve. The stronger the correlation, the closer the points will be to the line.
The specified time an employee is required to clock in, or be on duty, to handle contacts. The assigned days and hours an employee works.
How well an employee complies with his or her scheduled work times, including start, stop, break and time off.
The time that accounts for ongoing training, meetings, absenteeism, unscheduled breaks and other unplanned activities in an employee’s work schedule.
The amount of time between a schedule creation and its cycles. Depending on the employee and the call center, schedules can be created on a weekly basis or maintain horizons longer than six to 12 months.
Between a Brand Specialist and a caller, a scheduled callback is an established date and time for a redial.
Scope of Work (SOW)
The portion of an agreement or contract that describes the services or work that will be performed.
Screen monitoring authorizes a manager, supervisor, trainer or quality assurance supervisor to remotely view activity on computer displays and terminals of Brand Specialists, a technique used more frequently for newer Brand Specialists.
The delivery of corresponding data associated with an incoming call that is presented on a computer screen, provided by interactive voice response (IVR), automatic number integration (ANI) and computer telephony integration (CTI) technology.
Accounts for the rate at which live-streaming content is updated on a Brand Specialist’s display, usually every five to 15 seconds.
A written document used to assist a Brand Specialist in presenting information about products and services, responding to FAQs and resolving customer care issues when communicating with a customer or prospect. Scripting assists the Brand Specialist speak in a language that reflects the brand, ensures a logical progression through the call and helps them focus on the reason for the call. May also be used with email, chat or social media.
Fluctuation in the volume of business from one time period to another. These changes are often predictable from past experience and are dependent on the nature of an organization.
Compartmentalizing customer contacts into various categories, dependent upon such factors as value or relation. Each category can configure an appropriate treatment.
The ability of a customer to serve themselves guided by a company system such as interactive voice response (IVR) or an internet website.
A company or service provider that handles calls, emails, chats, social media and SMS inquiries for another organization.
Conveyed as the speed of answer, service level accounts for the percentage of calls to be answered within a specified number of seconds. Often reflected as a percentage.
Service Level Agreement
An interdependent agreement entered into by two or more organizations that defines which aspects of services will be provided by each party.
Service Organization Controls (SOC)
Financial standards measuring internal controls of financial reporting, information privacy, security, confidentiality, availability and processing integrity at service organizations.
How well a call, email, chat, social media or SMS inquiry is handled by a Brand Specialist. Consistency, amiability, greeting and the ability to conclude a call are all factors of service quality.
Short message service (SMS)
An electronic communication transmitted and received by cellular phone. Text messaging. See text.
The paid time that staff is not available to take calls, expressed as a percentage. Factored into staffing requirements, shrinkage accounts for breaks, meetings, training, off-phone activities and paid leave, among other things, allowing sufficient staff to be scheduled to meet service goals.
Enables a manager, supervisor, trainer or quality assurance supervisor to listen to a call between a Brand Specialist and a caller, neither of whom is aware of the monitoring. Silent monitoring is used to ascertain training needs and performance quality.
Single Point Of Failure
When the success of a project or process is inhibited by a single element.
Developed by Motorola, Six Sigma is a process to drive down defects for the customer and to get as close to zero defects as possible.
Rather than using the first available Brand Specialist, skill-based routing transfers a call to a Brand Specialist or group of Brand Specialists that are considered to be the best at handling the specific needs of a caller.
The act of monitoring contact center queues and redirecting Brand Specialists to queues with calling and email volume spikes as needed.
A service that provides calling and videoconferencing over the internet.
Smooth Call Arrival
In a perfect model, smooth call arrival represents calls arriving evenly and smoothly across a specified period of time.
Short message service, or text messaging, for mobile phone users.
The Service Management System Database of toll free numbers under the Federal Communications Commission.
A social media mobile app that allows users to send images to each other only visible for a few seconds, systematically deleting the picture sent. See social media customer care.
See Service Organization Controls.
Social Media Analytics
Collecting and processing data from social media websites in an effort to discern actionable insight. May include sentiment, share of voice, engagement and other metrics.
Social Media Analytics Platform
A software as a service (SaaS) subscribed to by a business, in which specialists compile data of a brand mention and overall online reputation of a brand. Often listening, analytics and management platforms are integrated in a single site.
Social Media Brand Specialist
A Brand Specialist able to communicate via social media who is also well equipped with knowledge concerning a brand.
Social Media Customer Care
Using social media (Facebook and Twitter, for instance) to interact with customers, geared toward building strong brand confidence for the customer through quick and effective responses to online queries.
Social Media Dashboard
A tool used to organize all of the social media sites for a business, including to spread brand reputation and analyze customer reactions. It brings everything together in one place. This may also be referred to as an analytics dashboard for quick access to key social media metrics all in one place.
Social Media Engagement
An effort to mobilize users to mention brands and communicate with Brand Specialists via social media.
Social Media Escalation Protocol
Defines how a Brand Specialist should respond to a social media mention or inquiry concerning a brand and, if required, escalate the issue.
Social Media for Business
Integrating online resources and communication via social media platforms to further business development, customer acquisition and increase lifetime customer value, among other goals.
Social Media Listening
Monitoring social media by means of investigating and tracking what is being said about a brand or company.
Social Media Listening Tool
Software and analysis options that are used to monitor social media for a brand or company.
Social Media Management
An effort to regulate social media use in a business concerned with maintaining a positive image.
Social Media Monitoring Software
Software designed specifically to collect data on, manage and regulate social media sites and brand mentions on those sites.
Social Media Response Guidelines
Delineate how a Brand Specialist should respond to online complaints or mentions of a brand.
Social Media Response Protocol
Appropriate response options and combinations for Brand Specialists, based on whether a mention of a brand is negative, positive, or erroneous.
Social Media Response Time
The time it takes a Brand Specialist to respond to a brand mention online.
Social Media Risk Management
Main risks involving social media involve brand reputation, compliance violations and release of confidential information. Risk management is the effort of an organization to minimize these issues, usually involving an integrated team of social media specialists to monitor these sites and respond to mentions of their brand.
Social Media ROI
The return on investment of social media. Can be calculated in monetary return, brand awareness, customer satisfaction, retention or other metrics.
Social Media Tracking
The process of tracking trending social media occurrences in reference to a brand.
Social Media Training
Teaching social media practitioners the strategies, best practices, tools and tactics necessary to fully leverage social media for the benefit of a brand.
Internet-based media platforms that facilitate intercommunication and are geared toward staying in touch with people virtually rather than physically in the area. Other uses include brand promotions, common interests and social movements.
A brand’s maintained properties on social networking sites and how users perceive the brand.
Social Service Level
A specified contract or agreement between the customer and the company defining what each party receives in terms of social media and channels, specifically relating to the timeliness of response.
See scope of work.
Span of Control
A ratio of the number of Brand Specialists to the number of supervisors who manage them.
Recording and analyzing calls, often using speech-recognition software, in an effort to better understand the needs of the customer, evaluate the knowledge and skill set of your Brand Specialists and to optimize customer interactions.
As with an automated attendant and other voice processing systems, speech recognition entails automated identification of spoken words and phrases that enable interaction with the caller.
Speed Of Answer
The time a caller is waiting to be connected with a Brand Specialist. Service level and average speed of answer (ASA) are both factors in speed of answer.
Split calls allow groups of Brand Specialists with specific skills to accept and handle certain transaction types, dependent upon the needs of callers and services provided.
Instead of all Brand Specialists starting work at the same time, start times may vary or be staggered every 15 or 30 minutes, for instance, to accommodate extended service hours or peak periods.
Someone who holds a share or an interest in an organization or place of business. Clients, customers, managers, Brand Specialists and various other people can be stakeholders.
A closely followed service that measures and rates online customer service.
Gathering, analyzing and sharing customer feedback to drive organizational improvements, as defined by the International Customer Management Institute.
The person that typically has first-line responsibility for the management of a group of Brand Specialists. Responsibilities may include monitoring, measuring performance, coaching, assisting with difficult or escalated calls, training and scheduling tasks.
The time between when a Brand Specialist answers a call and when they disconnect.
See telephony applications programming interface.
See transmission control protocol/internet protocol.
Tech Support (Technical Support/Help Desk)
Assisting the customer in resolving a range of technological issues, such as troubleshooting technology and/or maintenance of software systems in an effort to resume continuity and maximize technical performance.
Communicating by telephone and/or a computer system to perform job duties from off company premises without traveling to and from a main office.
The ability to conduct a conference or business meeting with two or more people who are not near each other. A telecommunications system that includes a phone conference line or video keeps a business in contact with physically unreachable contacts.
A technique using outbound telephone calls to market products, sales or promotions.
Telephone Service Factor (TSF)
A calibration dependent on an equipment manufacturer. Composed of a percentage of calls answered in a defined number of seconds. In the context of a contact center, TSF can be used to ascertain whether goals are being met.
Telephony Applications Programming Interface (TAPI)
A combination of telephony and computer services that enables voice calling, dialing, answering, hanging up, holding, transferring, conferencing and other functions.
Telephony Services Application Programming Interface (TSAPI)
Similar to telephony applications programming interface (TAPI) in that it consists of control commands, voicemail, call logging and using a network server. However, TSAPI uses a server-based system.
An electronic communication transmitted and received by cellular phone. See SMS.
Maximum agreed upon time that calls should remain in the queue before they are answered. An agreed upon numeric value that triggers an action or event.
3PL (Third-party logistics)
An outsourcer that manages the movement of resources to the places they are needed.
A system to record or document interactions with customers. A ticket is created for each caller to include all the information concerning the transaction. The ticket can be created and resolved, or escalated. The same ticket number remains with the same incident to allow for easy access to information for subsequent discussions or actions. Tickets are maintained in a case management or CRM system.
Keeps automatic call distributors (ACDs) or private branch exchanges (PBXs) connected across wide areas that usually cannot sustain such connections.
Time Series Approach
By analyzing past data, effects of trend rates and seasonal factors, a time series approach to analysis helps to forecast future events relevant to the call center.
Tokenization provides security by replacing a primary account number with a surrogate value. This is used to enhance order security.
When a caller completes a long-distance call without being charged a fee. Phone numbers with the prefixes 800, 844, 855, 866, 877 and 888 are toll-free numbers.
The sum of all delay times.
Total Handle Time
A key performance indicator in the contact center, measuring the length of an interaction. It is the sum of all handle times, including hold time, talk time and after-call work time.
Designing telecommunications, data systems and networks to fulfill user needs.
Determines levels of inbound and outbound calls (traffic) that a call center is currently handling. Local and long-distance calls are included in the count of contacts that comprise the study. System requirements are ascertained by using this data to forecast future traffic patterns.
The method by which training is conducted for contact center agents, or Brand Specialists. For instance, training delivery can be instructor-led classroom training or interactive online training.
Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)
Originally created to link contrary computers across various networks, TCP/IP are now common standards for commercial equipment and applications. In essence, TCP/IP governs the correspondence of sequential data.
Numerical data that can be plotted on a graph and shows change over time, or the rate of growth. The data can provide insight into patterns of growth and decline that are useful in forecasting.
True Calls Per Hour
The number of actual calls and individuals or groups that handle the calls divided by occupancy for that period of time. See occupancy.
In the case of a call center, a trunk is a single conveyance channel between a caller and the receiver of the call.
More than one trunk provided by the local telephone company or other carrier.
Trunk Hold Time
How long a trunk is processing a specific call. This is measured from the first ring to the moment a call has ended.
See telephony services application programming interface.
See telephone service factor.
When employees leave the company. The turnover rate is the percentage of employees that leave the company on an annualized basis. See attrition rate. The International Customer Management Institute provides the following formula: Turnover equals (number of Brand Specialists exiting the job divided by average actual number of agents during the period) multiplied by (12 divided by the number of months in the period).
See uniform call distributor.
The times in which a Brand Specialist is not able to take or make calls. Breaks, lunches and corollary time for managing and processing administrative work are all components of unavailable time.
The adaptation of the enterprise to meet consumer demand in the method preferred by the customer. It encompasses a comprehensive process that integrates transactions conducted in a retail outlet or online through the channel of choice (Website, App, Social Media, SMS). It is also reliant upon CRM integration, targeted promotional activity, inventory management, returns processing and supply chain technology. Customer Experience teams have a universal view of the consumer’s decision journey and can support interaction at the engagement point of preference. Previous terms in the evolution of the commerce have included Bricks and Mortar, Ecommerce, Multichannel and Omnichannel retail.
Uniform Call Distributor (UCD)
A smoother, more consistent manner of allocating calls to Brand Specialists. Due to predetermined logic, UCD is generally incapable of routing calls based on real-time traffic load. See automatic call distributor (ACD), essentially its opposite.
A Brand Specialist who can process several different types of contacts and can usually oversee any type of call, offer advice and aid in the handling of a variety of customer concerns.
In an effort to generate more revenue, Brand Specialists will offer more service opportunities or supplementary/complementary products.
An alternate identifier used uniquely for a computer system or social networking site.
See agent utilization.
Variance-to-Mean Ratio (VMR)
The amount of variance from highest point to the lowest point within the hour or half-hour compared to the average for the period. A high VMR (greater than one) indicates peaked traffic; a low VMR (less than one) indicates smooth traffic; and a VMR that equals one indicates random traffic arrival.
A visual communication between two or more people.
Telecommunications technologies that provide two-way video and audio communications and allow communication between two or more locations.
Refers to when a video or advertisement is rampant on the internet and circulated very quickly. Usually stated as, “going viral.”
An online animated character that, using artificial intelligence, holds conversations with customers to assist them with customer service and other questions.
Virtual Call Center
Enables network and Brand Specialist resources to be in separate locations, but facilitates functioning as if these are all in the same location.
When a caller is informed by an automated announcement about an expected wait time. This allows a caller to choose to wait, abandon a call, or request a callback.
See voice of the customer.
See variance-to-mean ratio.
Voice of the Customer (VOC)
The aggregate evaluation of the customer’s needs and expectations, which can be gauged through feedback from customers, customer service representatives or by listening to call recordings.
The system used widely in a call center that facilitates voice storage, computer speech and a computer’s reaction to human speech.
Voice Recognition System
A telephone system using speech recognition to activate equipment that dials telephone numbers automatically, route calls, make selections or capture information from the caller. May be speaker-dependent or independent.
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
A system that is able to transmit telephone data to the internet, thus making the internet a source of communication in the same way that a telephone is. This facilitates callers to bypass the telephone entirely, and use a free network to make long-distance calls.
Voice Response Unit (VRU)
Also referred to as interactive voice response unit (IVR). A device with automated retrieval and processing of information by phone using touch tone signaling or voice recognition to access information residing on a computer to give a response. The response may be given by a recorded human voice or a synthesized (computerized) voice.
See voice over internet protocol.
See voice response unit.
See wide area network.
When a Brand Specialist talks to a caller, but then escalates the call to another Brand Specialist or supervisor for further assistance. The smooth transition of the transfer is orchestrated through efforts such as telling the caller to whom they’ll be transferred and apprising the new Brand Specialist or supervisor of the caller’s name and the details of the interaction.
A technology that allows users to communicate in real time by way of web interfaces.
Web click-to-talk (CTT)
A technology that converts web traffic into a voice telephone connection using voice over internet protocol (VoIP). CTT offers an immediate real time voice connection with a Brand Specialist. Also known as click-to-call or click-to-dial.
An online form used to collect data from viewers.
See Workforce Management.
Wide Area Network (WAN)
By using digital data circuits, a WAN connects multiple computers across an expansive area.
The way in which a task is performed. Tasks are analyzed and broken down in an effort to compartmentalize discrete steps and ascertain what the next steps should be.
Workforce Management (WFM)
A contact center discipline that uses historical information, future forecasts, contact channel volumes, interaction durations and schedules to determine an optimal staffing for a given time period.
Workforce Management System
A system charged with the tasks of creating staff schedules, determining staff requirements, forecasting calls and tracking performance of Brand Specialists. This system is automated, thus severely reducing the time and cost of hiring employees to do this manually.
The science of using the workforce as efficiently as possible at the time when it is needed.
The employee charged with the responsibility of ascertaining workload and creating schedules for call center employees that minimizes costs and maximizes productivity.
The combination of time on a call and the work done after a call. It can include the combination of ring time, delay time and conversation time. It may be applied to either Brand Specialist requirements or infrastructure planning requirements.
Brand Specialists enter codes into the automatic call distributor (ACD) in an effort to ascertain what type of calls they are handling. Reports can be generated by call types, handing time and time of day.
Consists solely of the time that Brand Specialists spend doing after-call work. This does not include meetings or breaks.