Glossary

Contact Center Glossary
Call Center, Contact Center, and Customer Experience Vocabulary Defined

The contact center glossary defines the most common vocabulary, measurements, metrics, and phrases related to call center software and the field of customer experience. It’s a comprehensive list of all the need-to-know terminology every contact center team can use to effectively communicate. Each index definition provides clarity around the meaning of a particular term used within the industry.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W

A

ActiveX Controls - A feature set within a web page that allows for interactive functionality.

Agent Reports - A performance report providing statistical insights related to an individual agent’s average handle time, unavailable time, call log, etc.

Analytics - Tools that analyze data points, make correlations, reveal insights, and report on trends to help a contact center or business improve operations.

Agent - An individual who handles the customer interaction resulting from inbound and/or outbound contact. See related: Customer Service Representative (CSR).

Abandon - This term refers to an inbound contact that waited to be connected but ended communication before being transferred. In outbound contacts, this term refers to an occurrence in which the predictive dialer ends communication because the system or agent was unable to connect.

ACD (Automatic Contact Distributor) - An ACD is a specialized omnichannel routing engine that distributes inbound contacts to agents based on customer need and agent skill set, ensuring that customer requests are resolved with self-service or elevated to qualified agents in the most efficient manner.

Contact Center Agent - A contact center agent, also known as a customer service representative, is the front-line employee that interacts directly with customers and assists with issues such as placing orders, resolving billing issues and answering policy questions. See related: Agent.

Agent Elevation - See related: Escalation.

Agent Experience - The experience of a contact center agent resulting from a customer interaction, and improved through agent coaching, skills training, and Workforce Optimization.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) - Cognitive technology that uses and analyzes data, algorithms, and programming to perform actions, predict problems, and adapt to circumstances.

Analog - The process of taking audio signals, like voice, and translating them into electronic pulses.

Automatic Number Identification (ANI) - A service that transmits the phone number of the caller for quicker customer identification. Also referred to as Calling Line Identification (CLID) or Caller ID (CID).

Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) - Technology that processes and responds to spoken language commands. See related: Natural Language Understanding, Interactive Voice Response (IVR).

Auto Dialer - More commonly referred to as a Dialer, this technology automates the process of making calls from an outbound contact center. Dialers can offer advanced functionality, scripting, and reporting. See related: Predictive Dialer.

Automatic Callback - When all lines are busy or all agents unavailable, this contact center technology allows the customer to instruct the system to return their call when an agent becomes available within a specified amount of time or to indicate a preferred time for callback.

Automation - Technology built to assume control of processes previously performed by humans to boost efficiency and reliability and empower customers to self-serve.

Average Handle Time (AHT) - The average amount of time an agent spends handling a contact.

Average Hold Time (AHLDT) - The average amount of time contacts spend “on hold.”

Application Programming Interface (API) - A set of functions and procedures allowing developers to create applications that access the features or data of an operating system, application, or other service.

Application - A tool, service, or capability that enables the system within your contact center to identify, respond to, route, and track interactions.

B

Barge-in - An ACD function that facilitates the switch to three-way conference when necessary so that a contact center manager can join an existing call, assist the agent, and improve the customer experience.

Blended Agent - A contact center agent who handles inbound and/or outbound customer interactions across multiple voice, web, and digital channels.

Bot - A bot is a piece of software that automates tasks that humans would otherwise perform. See related: Chatbot.

Business Optimization - The process of measuring efficiency, productivity, and performance to highlight areas for improvement and ensure success within a business.

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) - Outsourcing specific operations to a third-party provider. The third-party provider is known as the Business Process Outsourcer.

Business-to-Business (B2B) - Refers to marketplace transactions between businesses.

Business-to-Consumer (B2C) - Refers to marketplace transactions between businesses and consumers.

Back Office Optimization - Streamlining back-office workforce functions for maximum efficiency and optimal alignment with front-office services in the contact center to improve customer experience and agent experience. See related: Workforce Optimization (WFO).

Byte - A unit of data that is eight binary digits long, used by most computers to represent a character such as a letter, number, or symbol.

C

Channels - Various voice and digital communication mediums that facilitate customer interactions in a contact center. See related: Omnichannel Contact Center, Omnichannel Routing.

Call Center (Inbound Call Center, Outbound Call Center) - An operation where a large volume of calls is handled on behalf of an organizational division (e.g., Customer Service, Sales, Support). See related: Contact Center.

Contact Center - An operation that supports inbound and/or outbound communication between customers and agents (or self-service systems) across multiple voice and digital channels, typically for the purposes of Customer Service, Sales, or Support. See related: Call Center.

Call Distribution - When a volume of calls is dispersed by an ACD during a given time period.

Caller - The calling party, or customer, with whom your contact center system or agent interacts.

Call Recording - The act of recording a telephone call or other audio source through an automated system in compliance with rules and regulations, then monitored for the purpose of quality management, agent performance evaluation, and workforce management.

Call Time - Refers to the length of time a caller is on an individual call with an agent. It typically includes talk time and agent-initiated hold time, but not post call wrap time. See related: Average Handle Time (AHT).

Call Volume - The number of calls or contacts made or received during a given time period.

Call Center CRM (Call Center Customer Relationship Management) - Technology that provides call center employee access to customer data and interaction information to further personalize the customer experience. See related: Contact Center CRM.

Call Center Management - The policies, procedures, and tools used to manage operations, employees, and interactions within a call center. See related: Contact Center Management.

Customer Engagement - A framework connecting multiple systems, processes, and stakeholders together to optimally engage the customer across their customer journey.

Call Center Workforce Optimization - A strategy to improve call center workforce management and planning through a series of forecasting, scheduling, quality management, training, and reporting tools. See related: Contact Center Workforce Optimization.

Call Center Workforce Planning - Call center workforce planning is the process of forecasting staffing needs based on anticipated volume or other business drivers, then ensuring everything is in place to hire, train, schedule, and manage the required agent team. See related: Call Center Workforce Optimization.

CCaaS (Contact Center as a Service) - A complete, unified, cloud native contact center platform offered on a subscription basis.

Cloud Call Center - A cloud call center, or cloud-based call center, is one that has its call center technology hosted in the cloud and supported by a third-party vendor. See related: Cloud Contact Center.

Cloud Contact Center - A contact center powered by cloud native software (rather than on-premise hardware) to handle inbound and outbound customer interactions across multiple voice and digital channels.

Cloud Contact Center Platform - The complete, unified, cloud native system built to support multichannel or omnichannel communication between customers and agents (or self-service systems) in a manner that optimizes customer experience and agent experience.

Central Office - A site that houses major telecommunication devices and network access facilities for storage and operation.

Chat - A digital messaging application built into an organization’s contact center platform, and launched from the organization’s website, that allows a customer to communicate and receive service quickly and easily online.

Chatbot - An AI-enabled robot capable of communicating with human customers to deliver efficient service across voice and digital channels.

Co-browse - A solution that enables an agent and customer to simultaneously navigate the same webpage during a voice or digital interaction.

Compliance - Abiding or conforming to rules, regulations, or laws. Can also refer to adherence to agent schedule.

Context - A combination of identifying factors about a customer—including user identity, environmental, and process-based information—that form insights which allow an organization to deliver a relevant and optimal experience to the customer.

Contact Center CRM (Contact Center Customer Relationship Management) - Software that provides real-time agent access to customer data and previous interaction information to further personalize the customer experience. See related: Call Center CRM.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) - The strategies, technology, and resources used to achieve a holistic understanding of a customer and their relationship to an organization. Proper CRM integration in a contact center can lead to more personalized service, increased customer retention, and more revenue.

Cross-sell - When a sales rep suggests that an existing customer would benefit from the purchase of an additional product or service.

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) - The customer satisfaction level, measured by how well the organization meets expectations. Typically determined through customer satisfaction surveys.

Contact Center Management - The way an organization manages operations of its contact center workforce and software to deliver consistently exceptional customer experiences across all voice and digital channels. See related: Call Center Management.

Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) - The monitoring, controlling, and integration of a phone system with a computer system. CTI can be run from an on-premise server or made available through the cloud.

CTI Server - The term used to describe software that supports a computer telephony integration (CTI) platform—although it is often commonly used in reference to both the software and the hardware on which it's loaded.

Customer Effort Score (CES) - A score based on the amount of effort a customer expends in getting their issue resolved, purchasing a product, etc.

Customer Experience (CX) - The experience resulting from a customer’s interaction on any channel and at any touchpoint of the customer journey.

Customer Experience Management (CEM) - An organizational strategy designed to optimize customer experience and customer engagement.

Customer Experience Platform - The set of processes and systems that enable businesses to manage the customer experience. See related: Cloud Contact Center Platform.

Customer Journey - Describes a complete end-to-end set of experiences customers have when interacting with an organization or brand.

Customer Journey Management - Customer journey management uses the latest strategies and software to provide seamless and consistently exceptional omnichannel customer experiences across a customer journey.

Customer Journey Map - A visual diagram of all touchpoints within a customer journey. It can be leveraged in real time for agents to improve an experience or leveraged via analytics to identify trends that help improve the overall customer experience that is delivered.

Customer Journey Optimization - The process of optimizing the customer journey through mapping and management.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) - Describes the total value of a customer’s relationship to an organization over a lifetime.

Customer Service - The support offered to customers before, during, and after their purchase.

Customer Service Representative (CSR) - A contact center employee who provides support when handling customer interactions. See related: Agent.

CT Connect - A technology that allows computer applications to monitor and control telephone calls.

Contact Center Workforce Optimization - A strategy to improve multichannel or omnichannel customer and agent experiences via workforce management software. These software tools can include AI-enabled forecasting, scheduling, quality management, performance management, coaching, analytics, or reporting applications. See related: Workforce Optimization (WFO).

Contact Center Workforce Planning - See related Workforce Management.

D

Directed Dialog - An elementary automatic speech recognition technology that guides interaction by prompting a caller with limited phrases.

Dual Tone Multifrequency (DTMF) - A system that uses audio tones to represent digits on a keypad.

Dashboard - A display of real-time communication, KPI reporting, or historical information across a screen for easy viewing by contact center employees.

Database - An application that stores, organizes, and structures data consistently for efficient analysis.

Decibel (dB) - A unit of measurement indicating the intensity of a sound.

Dialer - A dialer automates the dialing of outbound phone calls or the sending of mass digital communications. Dialers range from basic to sophisticated in their features and functionality. See related: Auto Dialer, Predictive Dialer.

Digital - The representation or transmission of data expressed in binary code.

Direct Inward Dialing (DID) - A local network service which transmits a unique set of identifying digits to the contact center.

Dialed Number Interaction Services (DNIS) - A set of digits indicating the phone number the call reached.

E

Echo Cancellation - Quieting a voice channel to optimize speech recognition and natural language understanding.

Employee Engagement - The level at which contact center employees are engaged in their work. See related: Agent Experience.

Enterprise Relationship Management (ERM) - The solutions allowing an enterprise to share information in order to create value, satisfy customers and stakeholders, and increase revenue.

Escalation - The process by which a customer contact is seamlessly transferred, via omnichannel communication, to a contact center agent or supervisor for handling.

F

First Call Resolution - See related: First Contact Resolution.

First Contact Resolution - A metric indicating the capability of a contact center to resolve a customer issue during the first interaction—eliminating the need for follow-up interactions and driving down volume of incoming contacts.

Forecasting - A workforce optimization application used to predict contact center workload and forecast agent scheduling/staffing needs. See related: Scheduling.

G

Grammar - In the contact center, grammar refers to language used in conjunction with IVR systems that require a complete list of possible spoken responses to be programmed for recognition and stored in a grammar file.

Graphical User Interface (GUI) - A computer interface enabling on-screen navigation through menus, icons, and interactive mouse or touchscreen technology.

H

Hosted Services - Refers to contact center and call center services hosted by a network provider and delivered on-demand through the cloud. See related: Cloud Contact Center, Cloud Contact Center Platform.

Hardware - The on-premise, physical infrastructure of a computer or telephony system.

Hold Time - The total amount of time a contact spends in an agent-initiated hold status. See related: Average Hold Time (AHLDT).

Hosted Call Center - See related: Cloud Contact Center, Cloud Contact Center Platform.

I

Interaction - The touchpoint of communication between a customer and an organization on the customer’s preferred communication channel of choice. Customers can initiate and complete self-service interactions using communication channels like IVR or chatbots. Customers and organizations can also initiate live agent interactions—in which an agent representing an organization interacts directly with a customer—using human communication channels like voice or video calls.

Inbound Call Center - A call center or contact center that handles a large volume of incoming communication—typically from individuals seeking customer service, support, billing, product or order assistance.

Independent Software Vendor (ISV) - An organization that designs and distributes software and is not owned or controlled by a hardware manufacturer, but which often produces software that is complementary to a hardware manufacturer or seller’s products.

Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) - A series of technical standards that enable digital voice, video, and data transmission services over telephone networks.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) - A voice and call-processing option that responds to a customer’s speech, or to the digits entered by a customer. IVR allows customers to interact with an automated menu in order to enter a call queue, connect with an agent, or complete a self-service interaction by enabling them to access information easily, complete transactions, or leave messages with no agent assistance required.

K

KPI (Key Performance Indicator) - A high-level measurement of contact center performance captured in reports and reviewed on a regular basis.

L

Logs - Also referred to as log files. Logs are records of occurrences that document details, typically time stamps, related to what took place within a computer system.

Listening Post - In customer experience management, this term defines a point in the process where companies can identify, collect, and analyze customer feedback.

Local Area Network (LAN) - A communication network linking computers or technical devices within a limited geographic area. They are often used to send data to printers, transfer data between systems on the network, send communications between users on the network, or access wider area networks (WANs).

M

Macro Metric - The result of distilling multiple KPIs related to the health of an organization’s customer relationships into a single unit of measurement.

Menu - An array of options clearly presented for selection by a customer, agent, or user on a computer screen or via a digital or voice channel.

Mobile Voice - Also referred to as voice control or voice access, this term describes technology allowing users to control their mobile devices by spoken command.

Moment of Truth - Any touchpoint along the customer journey in which a business has the potential to change a customer’s perception of the business and increase or decrease the customer’s loyalty as a result.

Multichannel Cloud Call Center - See related: Multichannel Cloud Contact Center.

Multichannel Cloud Contact Center - A contact center powered by cloud native software (rather than on-premise hardware) to handle inbound and outbound interactions independently across multiple communication channels. The information from an interaction on one independent channel is not connected or shared to impact interactions occurring on another independent channel.

N

Natural Language Processing - A technological process that powers the capability to turn text or audio speech into encoded, structured information.

Natural Language Understanding - An AI-enabled technology that allows humans to interact with computers in normal, conversational syntax. This cognitive technology allows computers to analyze spoken words along with elements like context and sentiment to derive, or understand, a person’s intent during communication.

Net Promoter Score (NPS) - This metric is used to measure customer perception of a brand and can predict revenue growth or decline. It is one of the primary methods by which companies assess loyalty and predict churn. Businesses derive the score by asking customers how likely they are, on a scale of 1 to 10, to recommend the business to others. Based on their answers, customers are then organized into a series of categories. Promoters indicate a score of 9-10. Passives indicate a score of 7-8. Detractors indicate a score of 1-6.

O

Omnichannel Cloud Call Center - See related: Omnichannel Cloud Contact Center.

Omnichannel Cloud Contact Center - A contact center powered by cloud native software (rather than on-premise hardware) to handle inbound and outbound interactions seamlessly across multiple, integrated communication channels. The information from a customer interaction on one channel at a single touchpoint along that customer’s journey is recorded and shared across channels to identify, personalize, and contextualize future interactions with the same customer.

Omnichannel Customer Experience - The personalized experience a customer has when their individual interactions with an organization are seamlessly connected and tracked across multiple communication channels of the customer’s choice.

Omnichannel Customer Journey - Describes a complete end-to-end set of experiences a customer has when interacting with an organization or brand across voice and digital channels.

Omnichannel Customer Service - The personalized, tailored service offered to a customer when an organization applies context and insight achieved from seamlessly interacting with the customer across multiple channels of his or her choice.

Omnichannel Routing - An interaction management system that allows an organization to proactively and productively route inbound, outbound, and blended contacts across multiple voice and digital channels using applications like ACD, IVR, AI-enabled chatbots.

Outbound Call Center - A call center or contact center that makes a large volume of outgoing calls, typically for the purpose of sales, fundraising, or similar business campaigns.

Outbound IVR - An IVR technology used to by contact centers to send proactive, personalized outbound messages. Similar to how a predictive dialer distributes outgoing calls, outbound IVR can automatically distribute outgoing messages to contacts across a variety of digital channels.

P

Phoneme - The fundamental units of sound that distinguish one word from another within a particular language. Phonemes are essential in processing automatic speech recognition that powers natural language understanding and IVR technology used by contact centers.

Phrase - A set of one or more words assigned meaning within an application. In contact centers, phrases are often associated with directed dialog in IVR systems, where a customer interaction is guided by a menu of narrowly defined phrase options from which a customer can select through speech.

Port - A connection point that allows the transfer of information between two devices or between a computer and a server over a network.

Predictive Dialer - An application used by contact centers to initiate a large volume of outbound calls at one time, using an algorithm to predict outbound agent availability and transferring any connected contacts to live agents. This maximizes efficiency of agents who would otherwise spend a large amount of time dialing a long list individual numbers that would not result in connections.

Private Branch Exchange (PBX) - A private telephone system used by an organization to make and receive internal and external calls.

Processor - The component within a computer responsible for processing data.

Prompt - A message that guides the customer to respond by indicating a selection, dialing a number, or speaking a phrase associated with a desired outcome.

Proxy Server - An external intermediary used to handle resource requests requiring heavy or intense processing from a server.

Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) - A public network to which telephones, telephony systems, ACDs, and PBXs can be connected.

Q

Quality Management - The systems, processes, and strategies an organization uses to manage and improve quality. In contact centers, quality management is often associated with workforce management.

Queue - A queue is a virtual line in which a customer waits to be connected with an agent. Call queues are the most well-known, but the rise in digital communication channels has created other ‘virtual lines’ like chat queues.

R

Return on Investment (ROI) - Value of an investment expressed as a percentage of funds invested to generate a gain.

S

SaaS (Software as a Service) - A licensing and delivery model in which a vendor hosts and manages software in the cloud, making it available to access via the internet for clients paying on a subscription basis.

Scheduling - In contact center workforce optimization and workforce management, this refers to ongoing planning of employee on-duty hours, activities, and required staff fluctuations. See related: Forecasting.

Screen Pop - A customer information screen that automatically "pops" onto an agent's dashboard at the same time an interaction is initiated with that customer. It can deliver additional customer context enabled when an organization’s business systems, like its CRM database, are integrated with its contact center platform.

Sentiment Analysis - AI-enabled analysis deriving information from speech and text sources to indicate the nature of commentary on an issue or the sentiment behind the commentary.

Server - A computer or program that manages access to a centralized resource or network service.

SMB - Small-to-Midsize Business

SME - Small-to-Midsize Enterprise

Softphone - Provides traditional phone functionality using only a computer, tablet, or mobile device and a high-speed internet connection. See related: VoIP.

Supervisor - The individual responsible for leading, monitoring, and training a team of contact center agents.

Switch - A device within a telephone exchange that connects calls from recipient to destination and controls voice and data traffic across the exchange.

System Administrator - An IT role overseeing installation, maintenance, and troubleshooting of software or hardware across a network.

T

T1 - A T1 line is a point-to-point, high capacity phone/data communications transmission service that connects a business customer with a telecom or internet service provider. T1 is quickly being replaced by more modern DSL and cable connections.

Talk Time - The amount of time a contact spent interacting with an agent between the initial greeting and conclusion of a conversation. It includes anything that happens during a call, including hold time and conference time. It can include inbound time and outbound time.

Task Buttons - A graphical user interface (GUI) element that allows users to issue commands.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) - TCP establishes network data exchange standards across programs and works with IP, which defines how computers transmit data packets.

Touchpoint - Any moment across the customer journey when a consumer comes into contact with a representation of your business or brand.

Trunk - Also called a telephone line, exchange line, or circuit, a trunk is a link between two phone switching systems.

TTS (Text-to-Speech) - A voice processing system that converts text to spoken words using speech synthesis.

U

UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) - A software delivery model in which all of a business's communication needs are solved with a single, unified platform hosted in the cloud by one provider and made available to the business on a subscription basis.

Upsell - When a sales rep suggests that a customer would benefit from purchasing a comparable—but more expensive—version of the product currently being considered. See related: Cross-sell.

V

Virtual Agent - A virtual avatar or computer-generated character representation of chatbot functionality and features.

Virtual Call Center - A single, virtual call center operation made up of multiple, geographically dispersed agents working in smaller remote facilities or directly from home.

Virtual Contact Center - A single, virtual contact center operation made up of multiple, geographically dispersed agents working in smaller remote facilities or directly from home.

Voice Authentication - A biometric verification of a user’s voice granting authorization or access rights to the user.

Voice of the Customer (VOC) - Market research that captures, stores, and analyzes customer feedback—whether direct, indirect, or inferred—to produce a set of insights on customer preferences, priorities, satisfaction, and more.

Voice Platform - A platform that facilitates the development of voice applications and their integration with telephony systems used by call centers and contact centers.

Voiceprint - The unique biometric identifiers of your voice indicated on a sound spectrogram that form the basis for voice authentication technology.

Voice Response Unit - A predecessor to the more commonly known IVR, this term describes the automated telephone answering system that allows a caller to navigate through a series of prerecorded messages and menu options using buttons on a touch-tone phone.

Voice User Interface - An interface allowing users to interact with a voice application through spoken commands and phrases. It is part of the foundation on which today’s sophisticated, AI-enabled voice and speech recognition technology is built.

VoIP (Voice over IP) - Based on an IP standard that transmits voice and data on the same network. VoIP doesn’t require a dedicated connection throughout an entire call, and is often seen as a more efficient alternative to circuit-switched networks as a result.

W

Workflow - A system that enables and tracks the efficient, optimal, consistent execution of business processes and automated tasks.

Workflow Management - The management of internal and external workflow systems and approaches.

Workforce Management (WFM) - The management, monitoring, and training of agents within the contact center. This includes scheduling, forecasting, and workforce optimization initiatives.

Workforce Optimization (WFO) - A strategy to improve multichannel or omnichannel customer and agent experiences via workforce management software. These software tools can include AI-enabled forecasting, scheduling, quality management, performance management, coaching, analytics, or reporting applications. See related: Contact Center Workforce Optimization.

Workforce Planning - See related: Workforce Optimization (WFO), Workforce Management (WFM).

Workload Management - Real-time monitoring, reporting, and distribution of contact center workload resulting from inbound and outbound communication volume.