Glossary of Terms


Since a call center is so dependent on people being available to answer phone calls and resolve customer issues when workers are absent it increases the workloads for other agents who may already have lots of work to deal with.

Active listening

is the art of using words and phrases to communicate a positive, supportive tone to your customers (or anyone else for that matter).

Agent productivity

To calculate agent productivity take the total time the agent is working (answering calls, doing administrative work, doing after-call work) and divide by the time the agent was scheduled to work, then multiply by 100.  Formula = (Total Output / Total Input) x 100 = Labour Productivity

Augmented Reality (AR)

retail applications today focus on helping consumers experience brands and products without having to go into stores.

Automatic Call Distributor

ACD is a telephony system that recognizes, answers, and routes incoming calls to the terminal or agent that is best suited to handle the caller’s needs.

Average Call Transfer Rate

is a metric that monitors the number of calls transferred to another department, a supervisor, or a different queue. 

Average handling time (AHT)

is the average time spent by an agent in handling customer issues or transactions.

Average Speed of Answer (ASA)

refers to the average amount of time wherein a call is required to be answered.

Business intelligence (BI)

leverages software and services to transform data into actionable insights that inform an organization's strategic decisions.

Call recording

enables agents and managers to record inbound and outbound calls.

Call routing

is a management process that routes calls as per categories, which are based on predefined business rules, wait time, and customer value. This allows agents to prioritize calls that need to be answered first based on their value, urgency, etc.

Call scripting

helps agents follow a dialogue template for easy reference. They can fill their responses directly into the customer relationship management tool (CRM) to design workflows.

Campaign Management System

A CMS is most helpful for outbound contact centers. The software provides the agent with a contact list, or other info needed to reach out to the right people.

Cloud-based call centers

can be operated from anywhere, the set-up is very easy and quick and you don’t need any special programming skills or equipment.

Cloud-based configurations

are hosted offsite in the cloud by a business phone service provider.

Computer Telephony Integration

CTI is a type of technology that enables computer and telephone systems to interact together. Contact centers implementing CTI can use computers to manage all telephone calls, which in turn leads to increased efficiency and better results.

Contact center manager

The contact center manager sets objectives in service quality and analyzes metrics to see if the objectives have been met.

Cost Per Contact

metric refers to the expenses related to running a contact center (i.e., operational costs, wages, benefits). To calculate the average cost per contact, the total cost associated with operating the business is divided by the total number of contacts handled.

Customer Centric

Being customer centric means that every department in the company understands that the customer comes first and everything they do is to obtain, retain, and build relationships with customers.

Customer Centricity

is a way of doing business that fosters a positive customer experience before, during and after the sale in order to drive repeat business, build customer loyalty (who refer others), and increase business growth.

Customer churn rate

refers to the percentage of customers you have lost over a certain period of time.

Customer engagement metrics

Customer engagement starts from the first touch point and incorporates subsequent interactions, including the time customers spend with your brand and the actions they take throughout their journey. Customer engagement metrics are effective in measuring service accessibility and the quality of customer experience.

Customer Experience (CX)

is the result of an interaction between the customer and the company.

Customer Insights

Companies should gather customer insights before producing products customers won't want, like, use or buy.  They can do this in many ways, including holding focus groups, conducting surveys, gathering customer feedback, tracking website clicks and emails, and observing trends.

Customer Journey

is the complete sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with a company and its brands.  It considers the complete path from brand discovery to purchasing and beyond. The focus in not on purchases made, but rather on how the customer feels about the interactions throughout their journey with the company.

Customer Journey Map

is a visual depiction (diagrammed or written) detailing the path the customer takes from the time the customer first discovers the brand, to purchasing, and beyond.

Customer lifetime value (CLV)

is one of the key statistics to track as part of a customer experience program. CLV is a measurement of how valuable a customer is to your company, not just on a purchase-by-purchase basis but across the whole relationship.

Customer Relationship Management System

CRM software gives agents the 360° customer info they need to solve customer needs as quickly as possible. Contact center agents can also use the servicing application to document customer interactions that can be brought up if the caller needs more help in the future. Having a record can help agents resolve customer issues more efficiently.

Customer retention rate

refers to the percentage of existing customers or users that are still part of the organization’s pool of consumers over a certain period of time.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT).

A great indicator of customer happiness is the Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT).  This metric is calculated by asking a question that pertains to the customer’s feedback on a particular interaction with an agent, “How pleased were you with your experience?” or “Was the agent able to handle your concern satisfactorily?”

Customer service

is the assistance and advice provided by a company to customers throughout the customer journey; before, during and after the sale.

Customer service goals

Setting customer service goals can serve an important role in managing service teams.  Set SMART goals. Good goals focus attention on the right things, while poorly shaped goals focus attention on other things.

Customer Service Orientation

means that as an employee you are able to display positive attitudes and behaviors, and demonstrate an awareness of the importance of meeting or exceeding customer needs and expectations.

Customer service philosophy

is a shared mission for your support team, a set of guiding principles that ensure you’re upholding your core values with every customer interaction

Customer service representative (CSR)

A customer service representative (CSR) – also called an agent – is a person who works in a call or contact center and helps customers with their issues. They may do this using a variety of channels, including phone, chat, email and social media. Customer service representatives (CSRs) play an important role in influencing the customer experience.

Customer service standards

refer to the performance that customers can expect from the company. It encompasses various factors, like speed, accuracy, transparency, accessibility, empowerment, efficiency, and friendliness of the staff.

Customer service training

Investing the time and money in customer service training can prove to be an invaluable investment for businesses of diverse sectors and sizes. Teaching members of staff the competencies, knowledge and skills required to increase customer satisfaction and therefore customer retention is a shrewd way for businesses to ultimately increase their sales performance.

Customer service values

impact the experience the customer receives and they help to define the personality and attitude the business is trying to put forth. Often companies offer training to employees on how to uphold these values. 

Customer Service Vision

is a shared definition of outstanding service that gets all employees working in the same direction.

Customer service vision statement

The first section of a customer service philosophy is a customer service vision statement, which Jeff Toister defines as “a statement that clearly defines the type of customer service employees are expected to provide.

Customer Touch-point

A customer touch-point is a point in time when the company connects in some form with the customer (e.g., website, phone, email, social media, retail store, returns, service, and products).

Digital Tranformation

is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, resulting in fundamental changes in the way a business operates and the value they deliver to their customers.

Domestic contact centers

make and receive calls from people within the same country.

Email response

empowers agents to answer customer queries and manage requests across platforms, such as email, chat, or mobile apps, from a centralized interface.

Employee empowerment

means giving employees the authority, right technology, systems, and freedom to go the extra mile to make customers happy.

External customers

are the customers who purchase products or services from the company.  Employees who work in job positions that require them to interface with external customers directly might be referred to as front-line/front-facing/front-end/customer-facing employees.  Those that work to serve internal customers are working in back-end/back-office/behind-the-scene job positions.

First Contact Resolution (FCR)

metric shows how many customer requests were solved during the first contact.

Inbound call centers

Inbound call centers tend to focus on assistance for customers who need instructions, a technician, problems solved, questions answered, or other assistance with products, services, and orders.

Interactive Voice Response

IVR is an automated telephony system that interacts with callers before routing them to the right agent or department, based on the required expertise. The feature aims to ease the situation for callers.

Internal customers

are the company employees who need support, information or action from other employees.  These internal customers may work just down the hall, in another building, or in another country, but they are still part of the company and working to help satisfy external customers.

International call centers

often use several local phone numbers or toll-free numbers to minimize fees for their customers.

Internet of Things (IoT)

is made up of billions of smart, connected devices, and gives any “thing” a voice through the data it gathers, produces and distributes.

Key performance indicators (KPIs)

measure how effectively a company is achieving its goals against a set of targets, objectives, or industry peers.

Knowledge Management System

KMS is a computerized system designed to support the creation, storage, and dissemination of information. Such a system contains a central repository of information that is well structured and employs a variety of effective and easy to use search tools that users can use to find answers to questions quickly. 

Machine learning

is a data analysis technique that automates analytical model building.  Some advantages of machine learning include intelligent customer service chatbots, improved product search, and fraud detection and prevention.


is a method of measuring something, or the results obtained from this. The right metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) should effectively measure a business’s specific capacities.

Modern contact center

allows customers to contact a company not just via calls, but across whatever channel they choose.

Non-verbal communication

refers to gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, body language, posture, and other ways people can communicate without using language.

Onsite Configurations

With onsite configurations, contact centers are owned and operated by the company itself.

Outbound Call Center

In an outbound call center, agents call potential or existing customers rather than receiving calls from them.


has become integral to the customer journey and is now a key driver of brand loyalty across all channels. Consumers are much more likely to buy from brands, both in-store and online,  when offers are personalized.


are fictional customer types created to represent real target customer groups.

Positive attitude

is a mindset that helps you see and recognize opportunities. It is not always easy to stay positive especially when things do not go as planned, or when dealing with angry customers.

Positive language

is the art of using words and phrases to communicate a positive, supportive tone to your customers (or anyone else for that matter).

Predictive Dialer

A predictive dialer automatically dials from a list of phone numbers. This saves agent time as the dialer will detect busy signals, voicemail messages, disconnected phone numbers, and when there is no answer. Predictive dialing is applicable across channels: mobile, text, social, chat, and email.

Problem-solving model

provides you with concrete, easy to remember steps you can work through when faced with any issue, customer service related or other.


is simply the attributes of a product or service.

Quality Management

QM applications give managers insight into employee performance so that any areas of weakness can be identified. Managers can also use QM to ensure that agents are adhering to internal policies and procedures.

Rate of abandoned calls

refers to the total number of calls where a caller hangs up before an agent answers.

Service breakdowns

occur daily in all types of organizations. They happen whenever the product or service delivered fails to meet customer needs, wants and expectations.

Service culture

in an organization means putting customers at the center of the business model, developing policies, procedures, values, norms, and beliefs that are centered around focusing on customer satisfaction and understanding their needs and wants.

Service Level,

To calculate the Service Level, divide the total number of calls answered within the threshold by the total number of calls and the total number of abandoned calls.

Service recovery

is a company's resolution of a problem from a dissatisfied customer, converting them into a loyal customer. It is the action a service provider takes in response to service failure.

Service standards

are guidelines for employees to follow when interacting with customers.

Service-level agreement (SLA)

is the agreed-upon, documented, level of service between a vendor and a client. Numerical metrics are often assigned to determine the success or failure of the agreement, along with clear repercussions for failing to meet the service level standards. It’s most commonly used by technology and customer service providers.

Social listening

lets your agents listen to customer issues online using predefined keywords and hashtags on social media. Social media posts are immediately routed to agents and prioritized so that they can provide immediate resolution to customers.

Social media monitoring

Monitoring tools help understand what people are saying about you on social media. Insights like this paint a richer picture than simply relying on traditional media.


are for the requirements, specifications, guidelines, or characteristics established for customer service.


is also referred to as telework, mobile work, flexible workplace, flex-hours, e-commuting or remote work and is a work arrangement in which employees do not commute to a central location instead they work outside the office location from various locations.

Texting Response

Mobile devices have become indispensable tools of the twenty-first century. Studies show that two-way text messaging systems offer a more direct and expedient means of contacting call centers.

The Net Promoter Score (NPS)

is a customer loyalty metric that businesses use to gauge how their customers feel about them. It measures your customers' willingness to recommend your company, product, or service to others. Companies with high a NPS are more likely to achieve long-term profitable growth.

Ticketing Software

A ticketing system collects customer support requests from all the sources and centralizes them with the customer data about contact history. Integrating ticketing software with a call center system allows your agents to respond to all the queries efficiently.

Time Division Multiplexing and IP

TDM was developed in 1870 for large system telegraphy implementation. The technology transports contact center interactions by segmenting multiple data streams and then putting them in a single signal. IP has replaced TDM as the primary mechanism for transporting contact center transactions. IP offers easy access and value-added services such as instant messaging, video calling, and making phone calls directly from websites – all while moving through a less costly network.

Toll-Free Telephone Service

Toll-free or "800" service lets customers call the company free of charge. The company or agency pays the phone bill for all incoming calls. There are different levels of service, and depending on the package selected, it can accommodate callers from the U.S. and U.S. Territories, and Canada.

Traditional call center

is focused on voice calls. Even if a call center provides some multi-channel customer service, the interactions are siloed in the individual channels.

Trunk Circuit Networks

Used in the context of contact centers, a basic “trunk circuit” is a telephone line connecting the phones at the contact center to the telephone network. Each circuit can handle one phone call at a time. The number of circuits required depends on the number of simultaneous callers the contact center wishes to accommodate.

TTY/TDD Communications

A Text telephone is a special device that lets people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-impaired use the telephone to communicate.

Verbal communication

refers to the ability of a customer service representative to think of the right words in order to appease a customer and provide a solution

Web chat

Web chat is a real-time communications system between agents and the company's customers that uses a simple, Web interface. Users need browser access in order to use the service. It allows agents to handle multiple chat sessions at the same time.

Work-from-home agent setup

Companies benefit from the work-from-home agent setup as it makes it easier for them to provide customer service across multiple time zones. Since the customer service team is working from various locations, businesses with remote call centers can provide coverage during off-hours without having to put employees on different shifts. This makes employee scheduling significantly easier for companies that provide 24/7 customer support.

Workforce Management System

WFM is used to forecast the volume of customer voice and digital channel interactions.  Contact center managers can use the forecasts to hire the optimal number of agents to ensure customer transactions meet a certain standard of service. WFM systems often tie into other workforce optimization solutions to provide the tools to empower contact center agents.


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Customer Centric Strategy, 1st Edition Copyright © 2021 by Kerri Shields is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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