Contact Center Solutions Glossary of Terms
- A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
- Abandoned Call: When callers, whether the calls are agent-initiated or launched by automated dialers or customers, hang up before the other party answers.
Abandonment Rate: The percentage of calls abandoned, typically by automated dialers. There are strict government regulations limiting abandonment rates.
Adherence: The measurement of how well agents comply with their work schedules.
Agent (s): An employee or an independent contractor acting on behalf of a firm who handles contact center interactions such as by voice, text (e-mail, IM, social, Web chat), fax, postal mail and video, inbound and/or outbound. Agents trained in resolving complex product or service problems, such as with IT as via help desks are known as support representatives or support reps.
Agent-group: A defined body of agents with common characteristics, such as particular skills, functions or product areas to which contacts are routed to or initiated from.
Agent-state: The status of agents' availability at any one time, whether handling contacts, in wrap-up or on break (see Presence).
Analytics: The means of making decisions based on examining and analyzing data. In call or contact centers, speech, screen and predictive analytics software presents the information sought to decision makers.
Answering service: A firm that provides voice and text-based answering, including message taking, screening and forwarding. Answering service agents, known as operators, typically do not attempt to provide service or solve customers' issues, instead they obtain the details and supply them to and/or have qualified individuals handle the matters.
Authentication: The process of verifying the credentials of individuals and entities. Examples include contact center agents logging in from their homes and customers reaching organizations via contact centers or Web sites.
Auto-attendant: An application that answers calls and enables callers to be transferred to the individuals or departments sought, such as by DTMF or speech recognition.
Autodialers: Software that automatically dials numbers or keys in addresses drawn from databases and delivers voice or text messages to recipients.
Automatic call distribution (ACD): Software and, in the past, hardware that automatically routes inbound calls to agents based on availability (see agent-state) and/or specific skills. ACDs can be standalone or integrated with PBXs.
Automatic number identification (ANI): ANI represents the calling parties' billing numbers, which, when linked to CTI (see Computer-Telephone Integration or CTI) to customers' databases, is then used by agents or automated voice systems to identify the individual callers.
Automated voice systems: A term referring to DTMF IVR and speech recognition technologies used to interact with callers.
Average Handle Time (AHT): The total length of time to handle interactions including wrap-up times, added together over a given period, divided by the number of interactions during that period.
Average Speed of Answer (ASA): The total length of time to answer contacts added together over a given period, divided by the number of contacts.
- Basic Rate Interface (BRI): One of two ISDN service levels, the other being Primary Rate Interface. A BRI line has two channels, one for voice and data and the other for signaling. BRI transmits at 144 kbps (kilobits per second) and is typically used by small/mid-sized businesses.
Business continuity: The methodology and process by which organizations, including contact centers, remain in operation to varying degrees during a disaster.
Business process outsourcing (BPO): The contracting of contact center and ancillary functions, such as billing and fulfillment, to third-party firms.
- Call: A voice interaction, either inbound or outbound, to or by a live agent, operator, an automated voice response device.
Call blending: Inbound and outbound calls and contacts handled by the same agent groups.
Callback: A feature that enables customers that have reached the auto-attendant or are in queue to ask for a contact center agent to call them back, usually without losing their place in queue. This avoids requiring them to be on hold.
Call center: An older term (being displaced by contact center) for providing communications-delivered functions, including collections, customer service, customer support, IT support, lead generation/qualification, reservations and sales.
Carrier: A firm that supplies communications transmission services, including voice, data and video, locally, nationally or internationally.
Central Office (CO): A carrier’s voice switching equipment that distributes inbound communications to customers and which feeds outbound communications from them into the transmission network or to other customers in the same service areas.
Cloud computing: The processing of information, including inbound agent and automated voice contacts, CRM, training and workforce management, on centralized servers in off-premises data centers, linked to organizations and their users via communications networks.
Computer-Telephone Integration (CTI): Software that links communications (calls, e-mails, faxes, texts, video) with computers, such as to screen-pops of customers information to agents.
Contact: An interaction by any non-in-person means, including, but not limited to voice, e-mail, text, video and Web chat.
Contact Center: Individuals and technologies organized to provide communications-delivered functions including collections, customer service, customer support, IT support, lead generation/qualification, reservations and sales. Contact centers include any and all communications channels.
Continuity program: A sales product in which customers agree to buy set quantities of products over a given period of time, usually at regular intervals.
Cross-selling: Selling products or services to customers after their initial purchases while they are still engaged with the seller.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM): A strategy or software that enables businesses to determine customers’ profitability and recommends offers and service types and levels aimed at maximizing customers’ total lifetime values.
- Dialed Number Identification Service (DNIS): A service that IDs called party numbers, typically for toll-free "8-series" or paid-per call "9-series" lines.
Dual-Tone Multi Frequency (DTMF): A communications signaling form that uses different tones to represent letters and numbers on keypads, used to reach called parties, including contact center live agents and IVR systems.
Data Mart: A smaller version of or a section within a data warehouse, typically focused on one or two areas and designed for quick information analysis.
Data Mining: A method of extracting information for specific purposes from data repositories such as data marts and data warehouses.
Data Warehouse: A repository of data that has been cleansed and organized for extraction and analysis.
- Erlang: A set of calculations used to figure out how many circuit-switched voice trunks are needed to transmit anticipated call loads from the central offices to called parties (e.g., call or contact centers) over one hour. Call/contact centers often use a modification, Erlang C that assumes calls that cannot be answered stay in queue until they are connected to live agents or automated voice systems. Erlang C is based on estimated average handle time (AHT) per call.
Escalation: The process by which agents transfer customers’ contacts to more knowledgeable staff to handle issues.
- Fax on Demand: An automated service that permits customers to obtain documents that will be faxed to them.
First Call (or contact) Resolution (FCR): Resolving all of a customer’s issues during their initial contacts to organizations.
Full-Time Equivalent (FTE): A measurement of workers’ engagements based on each one working 2,080 hours/year.
- Gateway: A computer server or other hardware or software that enables computers or networks to connect with each other. Gateways are becoming more important as more calls originate, are carried on, and terminate as IP (VoIP), as opposed to the PSTN.
- Help Desk: A specialized contact center that handles IT support issues from employees or customers.
Home-Based Agent: An agent that works from home, either full-time or part-time. Remote agents are similar, but they could be those working in the field at customers’ premises a well.
Hosting: Providing cloud-computing functionality, including contact center services, internally or for hire by the software’s OEM or by third parties. Also known in this instance as software-as-a-service or SaaS.
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR): An automated voice system form that automatically answers calls with prerecorded voices and uses DTMF-delivered instructions to guide callers to pre-scripted answers and/or to live agent opt-outs.
Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN): A set of international standards for communications (voice, data, video) transmission. There are two ISDN service levels: Basic Rate Interface (BRI) and Primary Rate Interface (PRI).
Internet Protocol (IP): IP or TCP/IP is a set of standards for transmitting any form of data – including voice and video – via packets over the Internet.
- Knowledgebase: A specialized database containing easily searchable information for specific issues and topics.
Knowledge Management (KM): A set of strategies and practices to identify, assemble and present information in an organized fashion, such as by contact centers via accessing knowledgebases.
- Next Available Agent: A contact routing technique that connects contacts to the first agent that becomes available.
- Occupancy: Percentage of time agents spent completely handling contacts, including wrap-up vis-à-vis their total work times.
Offshoring: Routing customer contacts from one country to contact centers in other countries, whose agents are specially trained to handle them. Nearshoring is offshoring to contact centers in nations adjacent or near to the originating nation.
Overflow: Contact traffic that exceeds the capacity within service levels, such as allowable queue lengths, for agent-groups or contact centers to handle and are rerouted to other groups, centers and BPOs.
- Predictive Dialer (and dialing): Software, formerly hardware, that automatically pulls up telephone numbers from databases and dials them and connects agents to called parties if individuals answer. It will not connect them if it reaches answering machines, voicemail or other devices.
Presence: Applications that show the availability of agents, and of others in an organization, such as subject matter experts and supervisors. Often used in conjunction with unified communications (UC) systems.
Preview Dialer: Software that presents customer information and numbers to agents who then decide if and when to instruct the software to dial the customer.
Primary Rate Interface (PRI): One of two ISDN service levels of ISDN service. PRI transmits at 1.544 megabits per second, equivalent to a T-1 line.
Private Branch Exchange (PBX): A switch located within a business, including contact centers, that feeds or transmits calls (circuit-switched or VoIP) to and from customers.
Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN): Circuit-switched voice and data (i.e., callers and called parties) are connected and interact over via a continuous electrical circuit delivered by traditional carriers.
- Queue: A group of callers waiting to reach available agents.
- Readerboards: Visual displays either standalone, such as those mounted on ceilings or walls, or on agents’ computers that provide vital information including alerts, callers in queue and individual, group and center performance statistics and sales results. Also known as electronic displays.
Routers: Switches that connect VoIP and IP data and video traffic to contact center agents and other users.
Routing: Switching customers’ contacts to automated voice systems or to agents.
- Screen-Pop: The presentation of customer data and information from their records to agents via CTI functionality.
Skill-Based Routing: Routing customers based on their stated requirements, needs, or their importance to organizations as determined by CRM systems to specially trained agents.
SIP: Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is a set of standards that define the setting up and tearing down of VoIP calls, enabling VoIP traffic to be transmitted via carriers and/or over networks.
Social CRM: A strategy or software that enables businesses to determine customers’ profitability, including their tracking their ability to influence others, typically via social media, and which recommends offers and service types and levels aimed at maximizing total lifetime values.
Speech Recognition: An automated voice system technology that “translates” voices into computer instructions and responds with pre-recorded voices to provide pre-written answers and agent opt-outs.
- Tie Line: Dedicated circuits that connect ACDs and PBXs.
Toll-Free: Special numbers that allow callers to reach contact centers without having to pay long-distance charges if they are calling over PSTN lines outside of local calling areas.
Trunk: A communications line (PSTN or SIP) between the carriers and their PBXs or routers.
- Unified Communications (UC): IP-based software that incorporates and integrates routing, presence, messaging, conference calling and collaboration in all channels, including but not limited to voice, text and video.
Upselling: Selling to customers more valuable products or services after their initial purchases on the same engagement.
- Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP): A combination of methodologies, communications protocols, and transmission technologies enabling the delivery of voice communications over private or public IP networks.
- Workforce Management (WFM): A method and enabling software for calculating contact center staffing needs and scheduling agents based on anticipated demand.