Call Center Glossary

Hoping to help your business get involved in BPO to grow exponentially, here's a list of terms you may find useful.


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.

Abandoned Call: A phone call that has been received by a call center’s communications switch, but is terminated by the caller before any conversation begins.

Abandonment Rate: 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.

ACD: See automatic call distribution.

Activity Codes: Codes that indicate the state of a Brand Specialist that are usually initiated by the Brand Specialist.

ACW: See after-call work.

Adherence: 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): Work immediately following a call or transaction. If the work must be completed before the agent can handle the next contact, then ACW is factored into average handle time. Work may involve keying activity codes, updating a database, filling out forms, or placing an associated outbound contact.

Agent Availability: Often conveyed as a percentage, agent availability is a measure of the time that Brand Specialists are available to accept inbound calls.

Agent Occupancy: The percentage of logged-in time that an agent spends in active contact states (i.e., on incoming calls, in wrap-up activity, on outbound calls) compared with sitting idle awaiting a call. agent status. The current work mode of the agent, such as busy on call, available, unavailable, after-call work, offphone work, etc.

Agent Status: The functional state of a Brand Specialist, be it available, on call, off-phone work or other designation.

Agent Utilization: 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.

Agent: The person who handles customer contacts in a call center. Also referred to as a telephone service representative or a customer service representative. In quitline call centers, an agent may also be referred to as an intake specialist or a quitline counselor/coach.

AHT: See average handle time.

AI: Artificial Intelligence. The ability of a computer to mimic human cognitive skills such as learning and understanding.

All Trunks Busy (ATB): A state in which all trunks in a specific trunk group are busy. ATB may occur when all trunks are actually occupied with calls or when some trunks are artificially blocked by a system user in periods of understaffing to minimize the number of calls in the queue.

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.

ANI: See automatic number identification.

Announcement: A pre-recorded directive played to callers. May include pre-interactive voice response brand promotions, as an example.

Answer Rate: Number of calls answered by Brand Specialists in comparison to the number of calls offered.

Answer Supervision: 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.

AOV: 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.

Apps: 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.

Architecture: The fundamental structure of a system. This establishes the workings of all the components necessary to the system and how they are integrated.

Area Code: The three-digit precursor to the rest of a telephone number in any area of the United States and Canada.
Artificial Intelligence (AI): The ability of a computer to mimic human cognitive skills such as learning and understanding.

ASA: See average speed of answer.

ATT: See average talk time.

Auto Available: System configuration to ensure Brand Specialists are automatically made available after wrapping up a call and disconnecting.

Auto Wrap-Up: 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.

Automated Attendant: A device that answers calls with a recording and allows callers to route themselves by dialing

Automated Greeting: 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 and answers an incoming call, looks in its database for call-routing instructions, and distributes the call as appropriate. An important role of the ACD is to produce management information by tracking both calls and agent performance.

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): Information provided about the number from which a person is dialing. Also referred to as caller ID. The series of digits is received from one of two sources: a long-distance phone company (over the D channel of an Integrated Services Digital Network Primary Rate Interface circuit) or a dedicated single line before the first ring.

Auxiliary Work State: A work state other than actively handling calls. As an example, agents may go into an auxiliary work state to process paperwork or e-mails. Agents will not receive calls while in an auxiliary work state.

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.

Available State: Describes a Brand Specialist’s status while signed into the automatic call distribution (ACD) system and ready to take a call.

Available Time: 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): The average wait in queue experienced by all callers to an automatic call distributor group during a specified period. This calculation includes both calls delayed and those answered immediately.

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).

AWT: See average after-call work time.


B2B: See business to business.

B2C: See business to consumer.

Base staff: The minimum number of agents needed to provide service in a given period of time. Does not account for unproductive work, such as breaks, training, meetings, etc. Also referred to as bodies in chairs.

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).

Benchmarking: The process of measuring performance against a set standard. Benchmarking in the call center industry refers to comparing demographics, processes, and service with other organizations to identify strengths, weaknesses, and improvement opportunities in one’s own organization.

Best Practices: Procedures or methods that are accepted as the most effective to achieve an objective.

Big Data: High-volume data that can be analyzed to understand behaviors, relationships and trends.

Blended call center: An operation that handles more than one type of communication. These different types of contacts may be inbound and outbound calls, or a mix of telephone calls, e-mails, and contacts via other channels of communication.

Blockage: The inability to complete a connection between two points because of a busy condition in the pathway.

Blocked call: A call that cannot be completed because of a busy condition.

Bodies in chairs: The number of staff needed on the phones to meet a speed-of-answer goal. The bodies-in-chairs number assumes staff are available 100% of the time to handle calls and does not include adjustments for staff shrinkage. Also referred to as base staff.

BPO: See Business Process Outsourcing

Brand Loyalty: The customer passion and confidence that compels them to repeatedly return to purchase from a company’s brand over time.

Brand Passion: 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.

Brand Reputation: 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.

Brand Specialist: Also known as a telephone/customer service representative (CSR) or agent, a Brand Specialist handles customer interactions and contacts in the call center.

BRI: 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.

Business Analytics: 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.

Busy Study: 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.


Calabrio: System that provides workforce optimization for call centers. Includes call recording, quality assurance, workforce and analytics. Calabrio has been recognized by Gartner Inc.’s Magic Quadrant report.

Calibration: The process of aligning performance with the prescribed quality level to achieve the desired goals.

Call blending: The process of combining the flow of inbound and outbound calls and other contacts, such as e-mail or web transactions, to a set of agents. Call blending can be accomplished manually or by automated systems that route the contacts to the agents capable of handling them.

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 management: The entire range of functions associated with managing a call center operation, including but not limited to: site selection, facility design, workforce management, performance measurement and management, quality assurance, contract management, and all aspects of financial management.

Call Center Outsourcing: Call center outsourcing refers to the business strategy of partnering with an external company to manage customer contacts. The outsourced call center may reside internally, externally or virtually depending on the needs of the parent company. The benefits of outsourcing include delegating the costly and time consuming efforts dedicated to hiring, training, quality assurance and staffing, while creating the opportunity to focus your time on customer service strategy, insights and the performance of your business.

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.

Call center: An operation with two or more persons that makes and receives calls, where the incoming call requires a service and not a particular individual to handle it. Call centers may be help desks, customer service centers, catalog sales centers, reservations centers, telemarketing firms, or collections operations. Also referred to as contact center.

Call Closing: 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.

Call Control Variables: A gauge for judgment used to process calls. Includes routing criteria, overflow parameters, recorded announcements and timing thresholds.

Call Control: The act of controlling the flow of a conversation, usually by asking questions.

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.

Call Drivers: 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.

Call Forcing: 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.

Call Greeting: 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.

Call Guide: 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.

Call Length: The amount of time it takes to process one customer interaction, generally expressed as an average. See average handle time.

Call Metering: 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.

Call Opening: 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.

Call Recording: 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.

Call Strategy: The plan or approach that a Brand Specialist will take in handling a customer call. Includes the desired outcome of the call.

Call Time: The duration of a call. See average handle time.

Call Transfer: 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.

Call-By-Call Routing: 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.

Callback messaging: A feature in which, instead of remaining on hold, callers can use the keys of a touchtone telephone pad to leave a message or their telephone number for a return call from an agent.

Caller ID: 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.

Caller-Entered Digits: Using the telephone keypad, callers can enter digits to navigate a directory or leave a request for callback message.

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.

Calls Handled: 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.

Calls Offered: 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.

Carrier: A business that supplies telecommunications circuits, or carries signals between two points. It can include both domestic and international providers.

Case Management: 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.

CCS: 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 routes them.

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.

CES: See customer effort score.

Channel: Paths of communication, such as phone, email, chat and social media. In retail, it can also be used to define delivery method.

Chat Bot: 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.

Chat: 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.

Circuit: 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.

CLI: 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.

Client/Server Architecture: An arrangement of computers and computer systems that all share an infrastructure in which their capabilities and devices are combined.

Clienteling: 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.

Co-Browse: See collaborative browsing.

Coaching: 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.

Cold Transfer: 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.

Collaborative Browsing: 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.

Collateral Duties: Business activities that don’t require phone calls. These duties can be allotted to improve utilization.

Command Center Analysts: People within a contact center Command Center who assess real-time reporting and situations to make workforce adjustments as needed.

Command Center: 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.

Common Causes: 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.

Completed call: A contact that is handled to completion by an agent, or in an outbound-dialing scenario, a contact that has been through the maximum recycle attempts.

Compliance: 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

Computer Simulation: 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 linking of the telephone system to the computer that houses the company’s database to permit faster and more efficient handling of calls. Screen pop is a function of CTI that can direct the data screen of the calling person’s account to the terminal of the agent as the call is being routed there, saving the agent from having to identify the caller’s account number, key it in, and wait for computer response. CTI also permits transfer of data screens to a second agent when a call is transferred.

Concierge: 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.

Conditional routing: The capability of the automatic call distributor to route calls or contacts on an “if…then” basis. Routing conditions can include day of week, time of day, agent availability, type of call, service needed, etc.

Consumer Affairs: 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.

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.

Contact Center Outsourcing: Contact center outsourcing refers to the business strategy of partnering with an external company to manage customer contacts. The outsourced contact center may reside internally, externally or virtually depending on the needs of the parent company. The benefits of outsourcing include delegating the costly and time consuming efforts dedicated to hiring, training, quality assurance and staffing, while creating the opportunity to focus your time on customer service strategy, insights and the performance of your business.

Contact Center: 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 Management: A system that tracks lines of communication to organize call center information. Processed through software applications.

Contact: Any communication between a customer or prospect and a Brand Specialist, primarily through a call, email, chat, fax, letter, social media or SMS.

Contingency Planning: 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.

Contract Staffing: 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.

Conversational Commerce: 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.

Conversion Rate: 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.

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.

Courtesy Callback: 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.

CRM: See customer relationship management.

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.

Cross Sell: 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.

CSAT: See customer satisfaction score.

CSR: See customer service representative.

CTC: Web click-to-call. Also see web click-to-talk.

CTI: See computer telephony integration.

CTT: See web click-to-talk.

Culture: The unique environment or personality of a call center, based on beliefs and approaches that manifest throughout the center.

Customer Care: Customer service that creates high levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty.

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.

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 Journey: 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 Lifetime Value (LTV): A company’s revenue or profit from transactions with a customer over the lifetime of the relationship.

Customer Loyalty: 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.

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.

Customer Satisfaction: The degree to which a customer feels their expectations have been fulfilled by a company’s products and services.

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.

Customer Service: Working on behalf of and for the satisfaction of a customer.

Customer-centric: A business strategy that is concentrated on the customer’s needs and satisfaction.

Customer: Individuals or organizations that purchase from your company.

CX: See customer experience.


D2C: See direct to consumer.

Dashboard: A display of data indicating an overview of key performance indicators. A collection of statistics measuring performance aggregated for viewing to identify insights.

Data Aberrations: 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.

Data Mining: Describes the detection of trends in customer data over a period of time.

Data Warehouse: A centralized data storage environment with the capability of integrating multiple data sources.

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.

Database: A software application that allows for the storing and compilation of data collected over time.

Day-Of-Week Routing: 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).

Delay announcements: Recorded announcements played to callers on hold that contain information and request their patience.

Delay time: The time callers remain in queue waiting for an agent. May include the time spent listening to the delay announcements but does not include the time spent going through an automated attendant menu system selecting choices that result in the call being directed to a specific resource or agent group. This statistic is calculated by the automatic call distributor and may vary among vendor products.
delayed. Does not include those calls that are answered immediately.

Desktop Applications: 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): A feature of 800 and 900 services that provides the number the caller

Dialed to the receiving switch: Using DNIS capabilities, one trunk group can be used to serve multiple applications. The DNIS number can be provided in-band or out-of-band, through the Integrated Services Digital Network, or via a separate data channel. Generally, a DNIS number will be used to identify to the answering telephone system the “application” the caller dialed.

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.

DLYDLY: See average delay of delayed calls.

DNIS: See dialed number identification service.

DNR: See dynamic network routing.

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.

Documentation: 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.

Drivers: 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.


E-commerce: Electronic Commerce. Trade carried out via an electronic network, mainly the internet

E-Learning: Learning by using an electronic means, such as internet or online classes.

Economies of scale: The principle of gaining better efficiencies through larger sizes. For example, twice as many calls does not require twice as many staff or trunks to handle because of inherent efficiencies of larger offered call loads and larger groups.

Efficiency Metrics: 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.

Efficiency: 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.

Email: 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.

Envelope Scheduling: 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.

Erlang models: A set of traffic engineering techniques used to determine numbers of facilities required in various telecommunications scenarios, which were developed by Danish mathematician A.K. Erlang in early 1900s. Erlang B is used to determine required facilities in an “all calls cleared” situation, such as automatic route selection in a private branch exchange. Extended Erlang B is a modified technique used when there is measurable retry of calls taking place when calls are blocked. Erlang C assumes blocked calls will wait in queue and is, therefore, the Erlang technique used to determine staffing needs in a typical “hold for the next agent” call center scenario.

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.

Erlang: A measurement of telecommunication traffic usage. One erlang equals 3,600 seconds of usage in one hour.

Error Rate: The number of faulty transactions or the number of faulty decisions made in a transaction.

Escalation Plan: 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.

Executive Summary: A short, concise statement defining the key objectives of a report.

Explanatory Approach: A quantitative method used to forecast call center activities by correlating two or more variables.


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.

Facebook Complaint: A post via Facebook conveying dissatisfaction.

Facebook Private Messages: On Facebook, communication that occurs privately, not on someone’s wall.

Facebook: 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.

Facsimile (Fax): 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.

Fax: See facsimile.

FCC: See Federal Communications Commission.

FCR: See first call resolution.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC): This government organization regulates interstate communications.

Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA): The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protects the privacy of student education records nationally. It gives parents and students over 18 certain rights concerning their children’s or their own education files.

FERPA: See Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

File Transfer Protocol: Commonly used protocol for transferring files over the internet.

First Attempt: 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.

First-call resolution: The situation in which a caller’s question is answered or problem solved during the initial call so that no follow-up contacts are necessary. First-call resolution has a high correlation rate with overall customer satisfaction.

Flickr: 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.

Flowchart: 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.

FTE: See full-time equivalent.

FTP: 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.

Funnel Forecasting: The process of starting with an annual forecast and narrowing the scope to a smaller monthly, then weekly, then daily, then half-hour forecast.


Gap Analysis: A technique to determine the steps needed to move a project or business from its current form to a desired state or goal.

Gate: 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: 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.

Grade of Service (GOS): A measurement of how many calls are answered and how many are abandoned, expressed as a percentage.


Handle Time: 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.

Handle: 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.

Handled call: A call that is answered by an employee instead of being blocked or abandoned. home agent. An agent who works from home or some place other than the actual call center location. Also referred to as remote agent.

Hashtag: 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).

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 established national standards to protect the privacy and security of certain health information. The rules detail safeguards that must be put in place to protect individuals’ electronic health information.

Healthcare Call Center: An operation combining human, technical and physical resources to field inbound and/or place outbound phone calls in support of medical care. Healthcare call centers support a number of different functions, which can include appointment scheduling; nurse triage; physician answering service and on-call services; pharmaceutical services; member and physician services; and coordination of benefits, among many others. They often handle contacts via channels beyond the telephone, including email, chat, social media and SMS. Healthcare call centers, which should be compliant with healthcare regulations including HIPAA, deploy technological solutions and operational processes to distribute contacts to teams of Brand Specialists, often located in one or more locations. Also known as medical call center or healthcare contact centers.

Help Desk: 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.

HIPAA: See Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Historical Reports: 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.

Hit Rate: 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.

Home Agent: An agent who works from home or another location outside of a call center’s central location.

Hospital Call Center: An operation combining human, technical and physical resources to field inbound and/or place outbound phone calls in support of hospital care. Hospital call centers support a number of different functions, such as nurse triage; appointment scheduling; nurse, physician help lines; patient financial services; patient care coordination; and lab information lines, among others. They often handle contacts via channels beyond the telephone, including email, chat, social media and SMS. Hospital call centers, which should be compliant with healthcare regulations including HIPAA, deploy technological solutions and operational processes to distribute contacts to teams of Brand Specialists, often located in one or more locations. Also known as hospital contact center.


Idle Time: Time that is not spent on a call or doing after-call work. Expressed as a percentage of logged in time.

Imaging: The method used to electronically store documents as an archive in a system. This is usually done by scanning the documents.

Immutable Law: 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.

Inbound sales: Sales opportunities that are initiated by incoming calls, emails, chats, social media or SMS inquiries from customers and prospects.

Inbound: Incoming calls, emails, chats, social media or SMS inquiries that are initiated by 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.

Index Factor: In forecasting, a proportion used as a multiplier to adjust another number.

Information mailbox: A voice-processing technology that allows callers to access pre-recorded information via a menu system. An information mailbox may be used to provide directions to a site, hours of operation, operating instructions, or other standard pieces of information that do not require a human interaction.

Information Mailbox: 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.

Instagram: 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.

Instagram@Reply: 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): A device that automates retrieval and processing of information by phone using touchtone signaling or voice recognition to access information residing on a server. The response may be given by a recorded human voice or a synthesized (computerized) voice. IVRs are used in applications such as “bank by phone” or “check on my order,” which distribute information and collect transaction information.

Interflow: 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.

Internet Phone: Rather than using the long-distance network, online users can make calls via the internet.

Intraflow: Calls that are manually or automatically rerouted to a different group of Brand Specialists.

Invisible queue: A situation in which callers who are waiting do not know how long the waiting line is.

ISDN: See integrated services digital network.

ISO 9001/2000: An international standard for the creation and maintenance of a quality assurance system within a company.

IVR: See interactive voice response.


Java Telephony Application Programming Interface (JTAPI): A Java-based computer program for telephone applications, such as placing, answering or dropping a call.

Java: A programming language developed by Sun Microsystems.

Job Description: 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.

Job Evaluation: An assessment of the relative value of jobs in an organization for the purpose of determining levels of compensation.

JTAPI: See Java telephony application programming interface.

Judgmental Forecasting: 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): The most critical measures of performance, typically productivity measures, in an organization.

Keypad: A telephone’s dialing pad.

Knowledge Base: See Knowledge Management System.

Knowledge management system: A technology that contains a database of knowledge and pertinent information related to handling customer interactions.


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.

LAMA: 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.

LAN: See local area network.

Last-Mile Delivery: 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.

LDQ: See longest delay in queue.

LEC: See local exchange carrier.

Level Zero Solvable: A call-center metric that measures the percentage of customer requests that were solved by an agent, or Brand Specialist, that could have been solved by a self-service function such as a FAQ.

Lifetime Value (LTV): A company’s revenue or profit from transactions with a customer over the lifetime of the relationship.

Live Chat: Like an instant message system, this allows Brand Specialists and customers to have a written conversation online and in real-time.

Live Monitoring: 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.

Load Balancing: 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.

Local Calls: 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.
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.

Logged On: This indicates that Brand Specialists have signed on, even though they may or may not be able to receive calls.

Long Call: Calls that are longer than 30 minutes. Name used for calibration and traffic engineering purposes.

Long-Distance Calls: 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 waited in the queue before being handled. Represents the worst case during the measurement period.

Longest delay to abandon: The longest time a caller waited in the queue before terminating the call. Represents the worst case during the measurement period.

Look-ahead routing: The capability of a system to evaluate the availability/condition of a trunk group or agent group before routing a contact there.

LTV: Lifetime value. A company’s revenue or profit from transactions with a customer over the lifetime of the relationship.


M-Commerce: Mobile commerce. Electronic trade conducted over cell phones, tablets or other devices.

Machine Learning: In artificial intelligence, machine learning is the concept that a computer system can learn using data with little or no direct human instruction.

Magic Quadrant: 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.

Make Busy: 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.

Marketing Agency: 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.

MBWA: See management by walking around.

Medical Call Center: An operation combining human, technical and physical resources to field inbound and/or place outbound phone calls in support of healthcare. Medical call centers support a number of different functions, which can include appointment scheduling; nurse triage; physician answering service and on-call services; pharmaceutical services; member and physician services; and coordination of benefits, among many others. They often handle contacts via channels beyond the telephone, including email, chat, social media and SMS. Medical call centers which should be compliant with healthcare regulations including HIPAA, deploy technological solutions and operational processes to distribute contacts to teams of Brand Specialists, often located in one or more locations. Also known as medical contact centers or healthcare call centers.

Medical Phone Answering Service: A call center that provides HIPAA-compliant services for medical, dental or healthcare practices, such as 24-hour live answering service; appointment scheduling and on-call answering services.

Metric: A measure of performance.

Middleware: Software that moderates between hardware and software on a network. This allows the two to work more cohesively together.

Mission Statement: A broad, general statement that declares an organization’s aim and how it will go about achieving it.

Mobile: The ability to move freely and easily as it relates to cellular smart phones, tablets, handheld computers and similar technology.

Modem: Converts analog signals to digital ones, as well as vice versa. Contraction of the terms modulator and demodulator.

Monitoring: The practice of listening to agents’ telephone calls to assess the quality with which the call is handled. The monitoring may be silent, announced, side-by-side, or recorded for later review. Also referred to as service observation.

MPLS: See multiprotocol label switching.

MSA: See master service agreement.

Multichannel: A market strategy that uses multiple independent channels to reach a customer, such as brick-and-mortar, catalog, or website.

Multimedia: 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.


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.

Network Inter-Flow: 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: The practice of routing the first contact in the queue to the first available agent, maintaining an equitable workload among agents. If no queue exists, contacts are routed to the agent who has been idle the longest.

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-Peak: See off-peak.

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.

NPS: See net promoter score.


Occupancy: The percentage of logged-in and available time that an agent spends in active contact handling (i.e., on incoming calls, in wrap-up activities, on outbound calls) versus in the idle, waiting state. Occupancy levels generally should not exceed 90 percent.

Off-peak: Periods of time other than the call center’s busiest periods. Off-peak times are used to accomplish nonphone work in most centers. This term is also used to refer to discount time periods by telecommunications carriers.

Offered call: A call that is received by the automatic call distributor. Offered calls are then either handled or abandoned.

Omnichannel: 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.

Onboarding: 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.

Open Ticket: A customer contact that is awaiting completion.

Outbound: Contacts made by Brand Specialists to reach customers and prospects. Includes calls, emails and chats. The opposite of inbound.

Outsourced Call Center: Outsourced call center refers to the business strategy of partnering with an external company to manage customer contacts. The outsourced call center may reside internally, externally or virtually depending on the needs of the parent company. The benefits of outsourcing include delegating the costly and time-consuming efforts dedicated to hiring, training, quality assurance and staffing, while creating the opportunity to focus your time on customer service strategy, insights and the performance of your business.

Outsourced Contact Center: Outsourced contact center refers to the business strategy of partnering with an external company to manage customer contacts. The outsourced contact center may reside internally, externally or virtually depending on the needs of the parent company. The benefits of outsourcing include delegating the costly and time consuming efforts dedicated to hiring, training, quality assurance and staffing, while creating the opportunity to focus your time on customer service strategy, insights and the performance of your business.

Outsourcing Medical Call Center: Medical call center outsourcing refers to the business strategy of partnering with an external healthcare company to manage customer contacts. The outsourced medical call center may reside internally, externally, or virtually depending on the needs of the parent company. The benefits of outsourcing include delegating the costly and time consuming efforts dedicated to hiring, training, quality assurance and staffing, while creating the opportunity to focus your time on customer service strategy, insights and the performance of your business. Also known as outsourcing medical contact center.

Outsourcing: Contracting with an outside company to handle some or all of an organization’s contacts with customers and prospects.

Overflow: Contacts that route from one place to another group or site. Intraflow is the term used to describe the routing of contacts to another group within the same automatic call distributor, while interflow refers to routing a contact from one automatic call distributor to another site.


Pacing Algorithm: 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.

Pareto Principle: 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.

Passion: 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.

Patient Satisfaction: A measure of how happy a patient is with the services received from their healthcare, medical or hospital provider, whether while they were in the provider’s office or during an interaction with a healthcare call center representing the provider.

Payment card industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS): Information security standards for companies and agencies that accept major credit cards.

PBX: See private branch exchange.

PBX/ACD: A private branch exchange that is equipped with automatic call distributor capacity.

PCI DSS: See Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.

Peak: 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.

Peaked Traffic: 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.

Peer-to-Peer Platform: A service that lets two individuals interact directly online without a go-between.

Percent Allocation: 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.

Performance Incentive: A form of additional compensation directly linked to an employee’s performance.

Performance Management: The process of managing the work effort of individual employees for the purpose of achieving a company or organization’s goals.

Performance standards: A set of goals or objectives that defines the ideal behaviors to be followed or service goals to be achieved.

Pharmaceutical Call Center: An operation combining human, technical and physical resources to field inbound and/or place outbound phone calls on behalf of pharmaceutical companies. Pharmaceutical call centers support a number of different functions, including handling patient recruitment and referrals for clinical trials; setting sales reps’ appointments with healthcare providers; answering informational queries from patients and providers; and responding to requests for product samples. They often handle contacts via channels beyond the telephone, including email, chat, social media and SMS. Pharmaceutical call centers, which should be compliant with healthcare regulations including HIPAA, deploy technological solutions and operational processes to distribute contacts to teams of Brand Specialists, often located in one or more locations. Also see pharmaceutical contact center.

Physician Answering Service: A call center that provides HIPAA-compliant services for medical, dental or healthcare practices, such as 24-hour live answering service; appointment scheduling and on-call answering services.

Pinterest: 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.

Point Estimation: 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.

Poisson: 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.

Pooling Principle: 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.

Predictive dialer: A device used to automate the method of making outbound calls and directing them to an agent when a person answers. Predictive dialing screens out other responses, such as answering machines, busy signals or operator intercepts, and records the results. Using mathematical algorithms, the dialer takes into account the number of available agents, the number of lines, talk time, and the probability of call results to determine how many calls need to be made to increase agent productivity. Example applications of predictive dialing include collections and telemarketing.

Predictive Hang-Up: 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.

Preview Dialer: 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.

PRI: 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.

Private 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.

Process Improvement: 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

Process Management: An approach to creating more effective and efficient workflows to accomplish an organization’s goals.

Process Map: A graph that conveys a business process from beginning to end.

Procurement: The act of acquiring or buying goods or services from an external source, often by a bidding process.

Progressive Dialer: 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.

Promotional Cadence: The frequency or pattern of business driven by marketing.

PSN: See public switched network.

PSTN: 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.


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.

QA: See quality assurance.

Quality Analyst: An employee or consultant with responsibility for reviewing processes and procedures of a company.

Quality Assurance: The activities put in place by a company or organization to ensure that the quality requirements for a product or service are achieved.

Quality monitoring: The act of monitoring telephone and screen activities to ensure they are being handled in a desired fashion. Quality monitoring may be accomplished via active, side-by-side monitoring, or by remote, silent monitoring.

Quantitative Forecasting: Use of statistical evidence as the basis to predict future events. Time series and explanatory approaches are the two major sectors of quantitative forecasting.

Queue: The “waiting line” for delayed calls. A queue holds the call until an agent is available.

QuikStaff: The software tool developed by The Call Center School to calculate staffing and trunk requirements, and to evaluate staffing and service tradeoffs.


Ramp-up: 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 normal way that calls arrive in a call center where there is no particular pattern within a half-hour interval. In statistical terms, the variance-to-mean ratio equals 1.

Re-engineering: Changing processes dramatically in an attempt to increase the efficacy and efficiency of a service.

Reader Boards: 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.

Ready State: The status of a Brand Specialist who is currently available to take calls

Real-time adherence: Measurement of how closely agents stick to their planned work schedule. Real-time statistics are available from the automatic call distributor to show the current state of any agent; these states can be compared with the agent’s schedule to determine adherence at any time.

Real-Time Alerts: Immediate notification of key measures used to provide insight into the business.

Real-Time Data: 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.

Real-Time Management: In response to current queue conditions, making adjustments to staffing and thresholds in the systems and network.

Received Calls: Calls that are received and taken by a trunk, which can either be answered by a Brand Specialist or abandoned.

Recorded announcement: An announcement heard by callers while waiting in the queue. May provide general information about products or services, remind callers what information to have ready, or estimate wait time and suggest a time to call back.

Recruiter: An employee with responsibility for hiring staff by collecting and evaluating resumes, conducting interviews, completing background checks and recommending qualified candidates.

Redial: The act of dialing a telephone number additional times after the initial attempt.

Remote agent: An agent physically located outside the contact center. These agents are usually connected to the center on an as-needed or scheduled basis to supply additional answering capability. The agent’s equipment is connected to the center using telecommunications links to provide the voice and data pathways. Also referred to as home agent.

Reporting Analyst: 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.

Response time: In a data system, the elapsed time between the end of transmission of an inquiry message and the beginning of the receipt of the response message measured at the inquiry-originating station.

RespOrg: 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.

Retrial Tables: 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.

Retrial: When, after receiving a busy signal, a caller dials again in an attempt to make contact.

Returns Management: The activities necessary to guide the processes governing the return of merchandise.

Revenue Generation: Making money or profit from a product or service provided. See also up-selling.

Revenue Metrics: Used to calibrate revenue in a call center. Necessary for determining revenue allocation.

RFP: Request for Proposal. A document prepared by an organization to request bids or proposals from outside vendors for a specified product or service. An RFP typically describes the current operating scenario, objectives of the product or service to be acquired, and asks detailed questions regarding the vendor.

Ring Delay: 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.

RSF: See rostered staff factor.


Scatter Diagram: 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.

Schedule adherence: The degree to which agents comply with scheduled start, stop, and break times in their work schedule.

Schedule exception: Any activity not planned in an employee’s work schedule, including meetings, training sessions, unscheduled breaks, and absences.

Schedule horizon: The time period between schedule-creation cycles. Some call centers have short schedule horizons where new work schedules are created weekly, while others have horizons as long as six to 12 months with the same schedule plan.

Schedule: A record that specifies when an employee is supposed to be on duty to handle contacts. The complete definition of a schedule is the days of the week worked, start times, break times and durations (as well as paid/unpaid status), and stop times.

Scheduled Callback: 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: 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.

Screen Pop: 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.

Screen Refresh: Accounts for the rate at which live-streaming content is updated on a Brand Specialist’s display, usually every five to 15 seconds.

Script: The written words and logic to be followed in the handling of a contact to assist the agent in focusing on the content of the contact. service level. Speed-of-answer goals that are often expressed as the speed of answer to be attained or as some percentage of calls to be answered within some number of seconds (e.g., 80% of calls answered within 30 seconds).

Seasonality: 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.

Segmentation: Compartmentalizing customer contacts into various categories, dependent upon such factors as value or relation. Each category can configure an appropriate treatment.

Self-Service: The ability of a customer to serve themselves guided by a company system such as interactive voice response (IVR) or an internet website.

Service Bureau: A company or service provider that handles calls, emails, chats, social media and SMS inquiries for another organization.

Service level agreement: An agreement entered into by two or more parties that defines various aspects of services that will be provided by one to the other.

Service Level: 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 Organization Controls (SOC): Financial standards measuring internal controls of financial reporting, information privacy, security, confidentiality, availability and processing integrity at service organizations.

Service quality: A measure of how well a call is handled, including consistency and friendliness of greeting, and the ability to handle a call to completion.

Short message service (SMS): An electronic communication transmitted and received by cellular phone. Text messaging. See text.

Shrinkage: The percent of paid time that staff are not available to handle calls. Shrinkage must be factored into staffing requirements to account for breaks, meetings, training time, off-phone activities, paid leave, etc., so that sufficient staff are scheduled to meet service goals.

Silent monitoring: A process that permits a supervisor to listen to both sides of a conversation between an agent and a caller. Used for determining training needs and performance quality. Neither agent nor caller is aware that the monitoring is taking place.

Single Point Of Failure: When the success of a project or process is inhibited by a single element.

Six Sigma: 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.

Skill-based routing: A method of routing calls in which the call is routed to the agent best able to meet that caller’s needs, rather than simply the first available or longest idle agent.

Skilling: The act of monitoring contact center queues and redirecting Brand Specialists to queues with calling and email volume spikes as needed.

Skype: 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.

SMS: Short message service, or text messaging, for mobile phone users.

SMS/800 Database: The Service Management System Database of toll free numbers under the Federal Communications Commission.

Snapchat: 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.

SOC: See Service Organization Controls.

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 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 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 Tool: Software and analysis options that are used to monitor social media for a brand or company.

Social Media Listening: Monitoring social media by means of investigating and tracking what is being said about 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.

Social Network: 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.

Social Presence: 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.

SOW: See scope of work.

Span of Control: A ratio of the number of Brand Specialists to the number of supervisors who manage them.

Speech Analytics: 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.

Speech Recognition: 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 it takes a caller to reach an agent. Measures for speed of answer include service level and average speed of answer.

Split: An automatic call distributor routing division that allows calls arriving on specific trunks or calls of certain transaction types to be answered by specific groups of employees. Also referred to as gate or group.

Staff-to-workload ratio: The comparison of staff hours to the hours of call workload. In a situation where 125 people are available to handle 100 hours of workload within an hour, the staff-to-workload ratio is 1.25.

Staggered Schedules: 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.

Stakeholder: 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.

StellaService: A closely followed service that measures and rates online customer service.

Strategic Value: Gathering, analyzing and sharing customer feedback to drive organizational improvements, as defined by the International Customer Management Institute.

Supervisor: 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.


Talk time: The time from when an agent answers a call until the agent disconnects.

TAPI: See telephony applications programming interface.

TCP/IP: 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.

Telecommuting: Communicating by telephone and/or a computer system to perform job duties from off company premises without traveling to and from a main office.

Teleconferencing: 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.

Telemarketing: 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.

Text: An electronic communication transmitted and received by cellular phone. See SMS.

Third-party logistics (3PL): An outsourcer that manages the movement of resources to the places they are needed.

Threshold: 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.

Ticketing System: 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.

Tie Line: 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: Tokenization provides security by replacing a primary account number with a surrogate value. This is used to enhance order security.

Toll Free: 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.

Total Delay: 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.

Traffic Engineering: Designing telecommunications, data systems and networks to fulfill user needs.

Traffic Study: 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.

Training delivery: 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.

Trend Rate: 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.

Trunk group: Several trunks provided as a group by the local telephone company or other carrier. Generally, all trunks in the group will be in use before a busy signal is returned to the caller.

Trunk hold time: The total length of time that a trunk is occupied by a particular call, from the moment the ringing is detected by the automatic call distributor to the moment the call is disconnected.

Trunk: A single transmission channel between two points, both of which are either switching centers or nodes, or both.

TSAPI: See telephony services application programming interface.

TSF: See telephone service factor.

Tumblr: A social media site in which users create his or her own micro-blog comprised of posted texts, images and audio files. See social media customer care.

Turnover: 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).

Tweet: A post consisting of a maximum 140 characters on Twitter.

Twitter Complaint: A post via Twitter conveying dissatisfaction.

Twitter Direct Message (DM, @Reply): A private message on Twitter.

Twitter Follower/Following: On Twitter, a follower is able to see someone’s Tweets in their feed; following someone means you can see their Tweets in your feed.

Twitter Retweet (RT, @Reply): Posting someone’s exact Tweet via Retweeting in an effort to further distribute it.

Twitter: A fast-paced micro-blogging platform where users post (Tweet) messages that are a maximum of 140 characters. Users acquire followers, respond to Tweets and can Hashtag or include followers in their posts. See social media customer care.


UCD: See uniform call distributor.

Unavailable time: The amount of time the agent is not ready to accept inbound or place outbound contacts. Unavailable time may include breaks, lunches, auxiliary time for processing administrative work, etc.

Unified Commerce: 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.

Universal Agent: 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.

Up-selling: In an effort to generate more revenue, Brand Specialists will offer more service opportunities or supplementary/complementary products.

Username: An alternate identifier used uniquely for a computer system or social networking site.
Utilization: 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.

Video Calls: A visual communication between two or more people.

Videoconferencing: Telecommunications technologies that provide two-way video and audio communications and allow communication between two or more locations.

Viral: Refers to when a video or advertisement is rampant on the internet and circulated very quickly. Usually stated as, “going viral.”

Virtual Agents: An online animated character that, using artificial intelligence, holds conversations with customers to assist them with customer service and other questions.

Virtual call center: The concept of having network and agent resources that are located at multiple physical sites perform as if all resources were located at a single site.

Visible Queue: 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.

VMR: See variance-to-mean ratio.

VOC: See voice of the customer.

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.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP): A communications standard for sending voice transmission via an Internet communications link.

Voice Processing: 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. May be speaker-dependent or independent.

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.

VOIP: See voice over internet protocol.

VRU: See voice response unit.


WAN: See wide area network.

Warm Transfer: 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.

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.

Web forms: An online form used to collect data from viewers.

Webchat (Chat): A technology that allows users to communicate in real time by way of web interfaces.

WFM: See Workforce Management.

Wide Area Network (WAN): By using digital data circuits, a WAN connects multiple computers across an expansive area.

Workflow management: A process that outlines how a task or set of tasks is to be performed. It involves analyzing a task and breaking it into discrete steps, including what information is needed at each step as well as what the next step(s) in the process 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.

Workforce Optimization: The science of using the workforce as efficiently as possible at the time when it is needed.

Workforce planner: The person responsible for forecasting workload and developing work schedules for call center employees.

Workload: For agents, the combination of total conversation (talk) time and after-call work time. For trunks, the combination of ring time, delay time, and conversation time.

World-Wide Web (WWW): A protocol that allows for the cataloging of internet content.

Wrap-Up Codes: 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.

Wrap-up time: The time required by an agent after a conversation is ended to complete work that is directly associated with the call just completed. Does not include time for any other activities, such as meetings, breaks, correspondence, etc.

WWW: See world-wide web.




On Key

Business Process Outsourcing

We can help you drive growth and reduce costs today!

Related Articles

Recommended for you