Contact Centre Definitions

Glossary of contact centre, call centre and customer experience terms


ACD – Automatic call distribution (ACD) software improves customer experience by ensuring customers are routed to agents with the right expertise. ACD routes calls intelligently along a logical path and takes into account the skills of available agents.

Active X controls – The interactive objects in a web page that provide interactive and user-controllable functions.

Agent – Person who answers calls in a call centre. Also called Customer Service Representative (CSR).

Agent reports – Allows agents to view team statistics as well as their own call log.

ANI – Automatic Number Identification. A series of numbers associated with a call. These numbers identify the phone number of the caller. Sometimes referred to as a CallerID.

Analog – An analog signal, such as voice or music, that varies in a continuous manner. An analog signal may be contrasted with a digital signal, which represents only discrete states.

API – Application Programming Interface. A set of routines, protocols, and tools for using software applications.

Application – The automated transaction (interactions) among the caller, the voice response system, and any databases or host computers required for your business.

ASR – Automatic Speech Recognition. See Natural Language Speech Recognition.

Auto Dialler – An auto dialler is a software used to make outbound campaigns run efficiently in call centres. Auto diallers save call centre agents time by automatically dialling customers’ telephone numbers. The software connects the customer to a live agent when the customer answers the call. An auto dialler can also be used to send automated messages to customers.

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Back Office Management – A back-office supports a customer-facing front office to deliver on its promises and objectives. Back office management involves running a company’s technology, services and human resources.

Back Office Optimisation – Back office optimisation is a process used in a contact centre to automate and streamline the tasks performed by its workforce. The customer experience (CX) across the customer lifecycle is improved by the alignment of front office workflows to back office functions (IT, accounting and human resources). An optimised back office is crucial for a company to be able to deliver a consistent, seamless end-to-end customer journey.

Barge-in – A capability provided by Natural Language Speech Recognition that allows callers to speak or enter their responses during the prompt and have those responses recognised. See also echo cancellation.

Blended agent – An employee in the role of contact centre agent who divides their time and attention between multiple communication channels (voice, email, SMS, etc.) to service customer needs.

Business optimisation – A systematic process of improving performance by managing and optimising key areas of an organisation that impact prospects, processes, people, and profits.

Business to business (B2B) – B2B describes commerce transactions between businesses.

Business to consumer (B2C) – B2C describes commerce transactions between businesses and consumers.

Byte – A unit of storage in the computer. On most systems, a byte is 8 bits (binary digits), which is the equivalent of one character of text.

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Call Centre – A call centre handles customer telephone calls for a company. Call centres usually use computer automation software to provide outbound, inbound and voice-based self-service customer interactions.

Call Centre CRM – Call centre customer relationship management (CRM) technology is used by call centres so agents can give a personalised customer experience. When a customer contacts a call centre using any channel (web, social or voice), the agent can instantly access their history and account information. The customer benefits from receiving the most relevant and up-to-date information.

Call Centre Management – Call centre management is the way in which organisations manage the daily operations of the call centre, including forecasting, scheduling, employee training, reporting, and all customer interactions. Call centre management can be modernised with workforce optimisation (WFO) solutions.

Call Centre Workforce Optimisation – Call Centre Workforce Optimisation is a customer experience strategy that modernises call centre technologies and platforms, through the use of digital channels, to increase employee engagement and improve customer satisfaction.

Call Centre Workforce Planning – Call centre workforce planning aligns the objectives of an organisation with the operational and strategic elements of a call centre workforce.

Call distribution – The call volume distributed over the hours of the day.

Call time – A metric used in contact centres to measure the average time an agent is assisting a customer.

Call volume – The number of contacts or transactions per second.

Caller – The party who calls for a service, gets connected to the system and interacts with it.

Central office – A location in which large telecommunication devices such as telephone switches and network access facilities are maintained. These locations follow strict installation and operation requirements.

Channels – The different communication mechanisms used by a customer to initiate contact with a company or vice versa. These include voice, email, chat, sms, video, web forms, fax and WebRTC.

Chat messages – Allows agents and supervisors to communicate during a contact. Reduces hold times and increases first and final contact resolution.

Container user interface – Consolidates Telephony & Email contacts into one desktop interface for easier management.

Contact centre – A contact centre is a modern call centre. It manages inbound and outbound customer communications through a variety of channels. For example, customers could reach out to a company via email or chat with an agent on the company’s website.

Contact centre agent – Front office employees that are customer-facing and typically the primary point of human customer contact within an organisation.

Cloud Call Centre – A call centre cloud call centre gives businesses a web-accessible platform for handling customer communications and calls.

Cloud Contact Centre – A cloud contact centre is a communication hub within an organisation. Hosted on an internet server and accessed from any location, it handles all inbound and outbound customer interactions.

Contact Centre CRM – Contact centre customer relationship management (CRM) is software used by contact centres to improve the customer experience across all channels.

Contact Centre Management – Contact centre management is the way in which organisations manage the daily operations of the contact centre workforce, across multiple touchpoints and channels, in order to accommodate omnichannel customer journeys. Contact centre management includes managing workforce forecasting, agent scheduling, time management, employee empowerment and enrichment, reporting, and customer interactions.

Contact Centre Workforce Optimisation – Contact Centre Workforce Optimisation is a customer experience (CX) strategy that integrates contact centre technologies and processes to support seamless omnichannel customer journeys with an efficient multi-channel workforce.

Contact Centre Workforce Planning – Contact centre workforce planning involves following a process to align a company’s objectives with the operational and strategic elements of a contact centre’s workforce.

Conversant – An old Avaya Hardware Platform on which HTI built software applications for IVR and NLSR.

Cross-selling – The practice of selling an additional product or service to an existing customer.

CCaaS – Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) is a cloud-based model. CCaaS improves customer experience by allowing businesses to use a contact centre provider’s software.

Chatbot – Chatbots are pieces of software that use artificial intelligence (AI) to act as an interface between a person and a computer. Chatbots get their name from mimicking chatting with a real person.

Customer Satisfaction – Customer satisfaction (CSAT) enables organisations to assess how well their product or service meets a customer’s expectation or if it exceeds the customer’s expectations.

Customer Service – Customer service is the assistance and service provided by an organisation to customers before, during, and after the purchase of products or services.

Customer Experience – The customer experience is the sum of all individual interactions throughout the customer lifecycle with a business. How the customer perceives each interaction results in a specific feeling or opinion—either positive or negative—of the company.

Customer Journey – A customer journey is the complete experience a customer has with a company or brand and encompasses interactions across all channels and touchpoints throughout every stage of the customer lifecycle.

Customer Journey Management – Customer journey management involves using technology and behavioural trends to shape and to make the customer experience (CX) more efficient. The goal of customer journey management is to minimise customers’ efforts across all channels and touch points, ensuring a seamless experience every time a customer interacts with your company.

Customer Journey Optimisation – Customer journey optimisation is a process where customer interactions are mapped and connected across multiple touchpoints. The goal of this process is to have an effect on or direct the end-to-end experience.

CT connect – A computer telephony call control server software that connects a range of telephone switches to a variety of data processing environments.

CTI – Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) software routes phone calls and other live contacts from customers through a computer. This way, contact centre agents are able to handle conversations happening in multiple channels. The software also gives the agent context, so they can address customer interaction in a way that is personal and efficient.

CTI server – House the server software that monitors telephony events (ringing, busy etc.) at the switch.

Customer engagement – The ongoing relationship a customer has with an organisation based on relevant, personalised experiences and the anticipation of the customer’s evolving needs.

Customer effort score (CES) – A measurement focused on service interactions in contact centre environments. It provides a way to measure how customer centric channels and touchpoints are in their design and management, and how they promote ease of use, simplicity and effortless interaction.

Customer experience management (CEM) – A strategy that focuses on the operations and processes used to create a positive customer experience with focus on your organisation, product, service, or brand.

Customer experience platform – Contact centre infrastructure, available from the cloud or on-premises, that supports the design, orchestration, monitoring, and tuning of customer journeys across voice and digital channels.

Customer relationship management (CRM) – A strategy used to learn more about customers needs and behaviours in order to develop stronger relationships with them. CRM helps businesses use technology and human resources to gain insight into the behaviour of customers and the value of those customers. If implemented properly, CRM will provide better customer service, make call centres more efficient, cross sell products more effectively, help sales staff close deals faster, simplify marketing and sales processes, discover new customers, and increase customer revenues.

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Database – A structured set of files, records, or tables. Often abbreviated DB. A collection of information organised in such a way that a computer program can quickly select desired pieces of data. You can think of a database as an electronic filing system.

Decibel (dB) – A unit to measure the intensity of a sound; a unit to measure the degree of loudness of a sound.

Direct inward dialing (DID) – Dialing within a company without going through an operator.

Directed dialog – The simplest type of speech automation that prompts callers for specific set of answers.

DPR – Dial pulse recognition. A method of recognising caller pulse inputs from a rotary telephone.

Dialed number identification service (DNIS) – A feature of 800 or 900 lines that identifies the phone number the caller dialed to reach the attached computer telephony system.

Dual tone multi frequency (DTMF) – Touchtone dialling. In DTMF, pushing the button sends a combination of two tones’ one high frequency, one low frequency.

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Echo cancellation – The process of making the channel quiet enough so that the system can hear and recognise Natural Language inputs during the prompt. See also barge-in.

Employee engagement – The extent to which employees are actively engaged in their work and supporting their customers. It can be a key driver of motivation, retention, performance, customer experience, and business success.

Enterprise data window – Brings additional data to the agent desktop such as call history by ACD queue and data gathered through an IVR system.

Enterprise relationship management (ERM) – Relates to solutions allowing an enterprise to share customer, product, competitor and market information to accomplish goals of meeting long-term customer satisfaction and increased revenues

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First contact resolution (FCR) – The ability to address the customer’s need the first time they call or connect with an agent, thereby eliminating the need for the customer to follow up with a second interaction. Contact centre managers carefully monitor follow-up calls because follow-up calls create an overall increased call volume which, in turn, requires more agents. In general, a contact centre manager will accept an increase in talk time, as long as the first call resolution rate increases as well. Follow up calls can also be an indication of customer dissatisfaction. Also referred to First Call Resolution.

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Grammar – The inputs that a recogniser can match (identify) from a caller.

GrXML – XML format of a syntax for representing grammars for use in speech recognition so that developers can specify the words and patterns of words to be listened for by a speech recogniser, as defined by the W3C forum The other format defined by the W3C forum, for representing these grammars is an Augmented BNF Form.

Graphical user interface (GUI) – A program interface that takes advantage of the computer’s graphics capabilities to make the program easier to use.

Genesys voice platform (GVP) – see Voice Platform.

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Hardware – The physical components of a computer system. The central processing unit, disks, tape and diskette drives, and so on, are all hardware.

Hosted Call Centre – A hosted call centre provides a cost effective, customer service solution for organisations. A service provider hosts the organisation’s customer service communications, reducing the cost to the business.

Hosted Contact Centre – A hosted contact centre provides a cost-effective customer service solution for organisations. A service provider hosts the organisation’s customer service communications, reducing the cost to the business.

Hosted Dialler – A hosted dialler is a contact centre cloud-based technology used in modern centres. It is beneficial to businesses who need to increase sales and provide better customer support while maintaining their operating costs.

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Integrated browser – Provides agents with easy access to frequently used sites on the internet or company intranet. An administrator configures accessible URLs.

Interactions – the way in which customers engage with your organisation after selecting the communication channel of their choice. Interactions can be self-service orientated and can include navigating an IVR, leaving a voicemail, or filling out a web form to send an email. Interactions can also be human or agent oriented to include Chat sessions, talking to a live representative, or face-to-face video calls. Each interaction point—whether human or self-service—will have a different perceived value and unique organisational cost associated to it.

Integrated services digital network (ISDN) – An international standard for sending voice, video, and data over digital telephone lines or normal telephone wires.

Independent software vendor (ISV) – A company that has an agreement with HTI to develop software to work with the system to provide additional features required by customers.

IVR – Interactive voice response (IVR) is a technology enabling people to communicate with a computer using use their voice or the keypad on their telephone. IVR systems are essential as the foundation of call routing within a modern contact centre.

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Journey-specific – The experience delivered—whether via self-service or human-assisted—that matches the expectations of the customer and aligns with the different stages of the customer experience lifecycle.

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Key stroke macros – No coding required for defining agent workflows. Monitors your keystrokes to define a workflow.

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Lifetime customer value (LCV) – The value of a customer over their lifetime as a customer of an organisation or brand.

Line side E1 – A digital method of interfacing a system to a PBX or switch using E1-related hardware and software.

Line side T1 – A digital method of interfacing a system to a PBX or switch using T1-related hardware and software.

Listening post – Any point along a customer journey where the organisation collects customer or employee feedback.

Live ChatLive chat is software embedded into a website to turn a static page into a dynamic, conversational experience for customers.

Local area network (LAN) – A data communications network in a limited geographical area. The LAN provides communications between computers and peripherals.

Logs – A record of actions that have occurred.

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Macro metric – The primary metric used to measure the health of your customer relationships. E.g. Net Promoter Score®

Marquee messages – Allows supervisors to instantly broadcast messages to all agents or groups of agents.

Megabyte – A unit of memory equal to 1,048,576 bytes (1024 x 1024). It is often rounded to one million.

Moment of truth – The interactions between customer and company along the customer journey and often situations where a customer can form or change an opinion about a company, product, or service offering. Each and every time a customer makes contact with an organisation or its representatives can be a “moment of truth”.

Modern Contact Centre – A modern contact centre is the communication hub within an organisation, managing all inbound and outbound customer interactions such as voice, social media, web, text, email and live chat.

Multi-channel Cloud Call Centre – A multi-channel cloud call centre gives businesses the ability to differentiate their brands by delivering personalised and seamless customer experiences (CX).

Multi-channel Cloud Contact Centre – A multi-channel cloud contact centre is a customer experience (CX) solution that integrates multiple touchpoints – including voice, text, social media and the web – making them accessible via an Internet server. A multi-channel cloud contact centre can be accessed from virtually anywhere, eliminating the need for increased physical infrastructure while meeting the evolving demands of today’s customer communication preferences.

Mobile Voice – The Mobile voice is an emerging technology making it possible for people to get tasks done by using voice commands on their mobile devices. Mobile voice technology combines advances made in voice recognition and mobile technologies to make it possible for mobile devices to understand voice instructions and accomplish tasks.

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Natural language speech recognition (NLSR) – An advanced type of speech recognition. NLSR can recognise particular words and phrases, but it can also interpret and assign meaning to those words and phrases. NLSR can also recognise natural numbers and currency amounts. Because of the greater vocabulary and grammar requirements associated with NLSR, it works best with an external speech recognition or “proxy” server.

Natural language understanding (NLU) – The ability to understand complex expressions spoken in a more natural, free-style manner.

NPS (Net Promoter® Score) – Both a loyalty metric and a discipline for using customer feedback to fuel profitable growth in your business. Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a macro metric based on the single question and has been adopted by leading companies worldwide as the standard for measuring and improving customer loyalty.

Nuance voice platform (NVP) – See Voice Platform.

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Omnichannel Cloud Call Centre – An omnichannel cloud call centre is a multi-channel customer experience strategy that delivers a seamless experience across all touchpoints and is easily available via an Internet server. Companies seeking to enhance their customer experience look to omnichannel cloud call centre solutions to connect together customer interactions—such as voice, text and social media—in order to carry context throughout the customer journey.

Omnichannel contact centre – An omnichannel cloud contact centre is a multichannel customer experience strategy that seamlessly connects all touch points and is available via an internet server.

Omnichannel Customer Experience – An omnichannel customer experience is delivered through individual customer touchpoints over a diverse range of seamlessly connected channels. A customer needs to have the ability to leave one channel then continue the experience on a different channel — exactly where they left off.

Omnichannel Customer Journey – An omnichannel customer journey consists of key interactions over multiple touchpoints between customer or prospect and a company during the point of sale and throughout the customer lifecycle. The interactions may start and stop on different channels, which increases the complexity of delivering a continued experience when the customer changes communication options.

Omnichannel Customer Service – Omnichannel customer service gives your customers the ability to reach you on any platform. Omnichannel customer service is important because customers don’t want to be limited to phone calls and emails when communicating. They also want to use social media, text and other methods.

Outbound Call Centre – An outbound call centre is a facility set up to allow call centre employees to make outbound calls to an organisation’s customers or prospects. This may be for market research, proactive customer service, sales, debt recovery or other purposes according to business requirements.

Outbound IVR – Call centres use outbound IVR technology as a way to proactively send communications to customers through multiple channels. Outbound IVR technology can be personalised, and sent through a variety of channels.

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PBX – A PBX (private branch exchange) is a company’s dedicated telephone network. Users can communicate internally (within the company) and externally (outside the company) using different communication channels like VoIP, ISDN or analogue.

Phoneme – A single basic sound of a particular spoken language. For example, the English language contains 40 phonemes that represent all basic sounds used with the language. The English word one can be represented with three phonemes, w – uh – n. Phonemes vary between languages because of guttural and nasal inflections and syllable constructs.

Phrase – A set of one or more words used within an application. Examples include “Thank you for calling XZY Business,” “One,” and “At the tone, press 1”.

Predictive Dialling – Predictive dialling saves agents time. A predictive dialler can make several automated outbound calls without the agent having to manually dial each number. The call is made by a computer using algorithms designed to support a business’ objectives. When the call is answered it is passed to an agent.

Processor – In system documentation, the computer on which the system software runs. In general, the part of the computer system that processes the data. Also known as the central processing unit.

Prompt – A message played to a caller that gives the caller a choice of selections in a menu and asks for a response.

Proxy server – A server external to the system used in a client/server configuration to perform processor-intensive functions, such as Natural Language Speech Recognition or text-to-speech.

PSTN – Public Switched Telephone Network. The public telephone network to which telephones, ACDs, and PBXs are connected.

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Queue – A type of directory number created to hold calls or messages that are waiting to be picked up.

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Recogniser – The part of the system that compares caller input to grammar to correctly match (identify) the caller input.

Reports agent – Allows agents to view team statistics as well as their own call log.

ROI – Return on investment.

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SaaS – Software as a Service (SaaS) delivers centrally hosted software applications to customers through a web browser. A SaaS licence is usually purchased on a subscription basis.

Supervisor – Skill Statistics, Agent Statistics, ACD States

Screen pop – A method of delivering a screen of information to a telephone operator at the same time a telephone call is delivered. This is accomplished by a complex chain of tasks that include identifying the calling party number, using that information to access a local or remote ORACLE database, and pulling a form full of information from the database using an ORACLE database utility package.

Small computer system interface (SCSI) – A disk drive control technology in which a single SCSI adapter circuit card plugged into a PC slot is capable of controlling as many as seven different hard disks, optical disks, tape drives, and so on.

Server – A provider of resources.

SMB – Small-to-medium business.

SME – Small-to-medium enterprise.

SNMP – Simple network management protocol.

Softphone controls – Allows agents to control calls from the PC. Saves time for agents simultaneously working with the phone and other desktop applications.

Speech energy – The amount of energy in an audio signal. Literally translated, it is the output level of the sound in every phonetic utterance.

Structured query language (SQL) – A standard data programming language used with data storage and data query applications.

Switch – A software and hardware device that controls and directs voice and data traffic. A customer-based switch is known as a private branch exchange.

System administrator – The person assigned the responsibility of monitoring all system software processing, performing daily system operations and preventive maintenance, and troubleshooting errors as required.

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Talk time – The average time an agent spends on each call, a common call centre performance metric. In general, fast talk time averages are desirable. However, fast talk time averages accompanied by poor first call resolution rates are a sign that customer calls are not being answered satisfactorily.

Task buttons – Pre-defined task buttons allow agents to launch a 3rd party application, update CRM data, initiate automated after call tasks such as sending an email, or initiating other Windows based tools.

T1 – A digital transmission link with a capacity of 1.544 Mbps.

TCP/IP – transmission control protocol/internet protocol.

Telephone network connection – The point at which a telephone network connection terminates on a system. Supported telephone connections are T1 and E1.

Touchpoint – Each impression a customer has of an organisation (be it advertising, product, email, etc.) can be called a touchpoint. These touchpoints can spurn an interaction with the organisation, which in turn creates a customer experience.

TTS – Text-to-Speech – An optional feature that allows an application to play speech directly from ASCII text by converting that text to synthesised speech.

Trunk – A trunk is a communication line or physical link, such as a wire or optical line, designed to carry multiple signals simultaneously. A trunk provides network access between two points. They often connect switching centres in a communication solution.

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Unified Communications – Unified communications refers to being able to bring all your company communications into a single environment. It also refers to connecting multiple types of users to the information they need in one place.

Upsell – An increase in the planned or stated purchase of a customer.

Utterance – A single spoken unit that may consist of a word, phrase, sentence, or multiple sentences.

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Virtual Agent – A virtual agent is a chatbot acting as a customer service agent in a contact centre. It can answer customer questions and give product and service information.

Virtual Call Centre – A virtual call centre (VCC) optimises contact centre workforce efficiency by allowing call centre staff to work at multiple locations rather than at just one location. Systems are designed to ensure the right staff member responds to a customer interaction, delivering customer service excellence.

Virtual Contact Centre – A virtual contact centre (VCC) is a cloud-based solution for businesses who want to match customer needs with the right skills in their workforce. This cost-effective solution means agents can be based in any geographical location. A virtual contact centre allows organisations to design the ideal customer service structure whatever their customers’ touchpoints or interactions.

Voicebot – Voicebots are software powered by artificial intelligence (AI) that allow a caller to navigate an interactive voice response (IVR) system with their voice, generally using natural language. Callers don’t have to listen to menus and press corresponding numbers on their keypads. They speak to the IVR in a simplified simulation of a call with a live operator.

VoIP – VoIP (pronounced voy-p) stands for voice over internet protocol. What VoIP means is getting your phone calls over the internet. The calls can come in on a telephone, a computer or a mobile device. If you have made a phone call over the internet, you have made a VoIP call.

Voice response unit (VRU)

Vocabulary – A collection of words that the system is able to recognise using Natural Language Speech Recognition.

Voice authentication – A biometric used to verify who the speaker says he or she claims to be.

Voice of customer (VOC) – A measurement used to describe the in-depth process of capturing a customer’s expectations, preferences and aversions. Specifically, the Voice of the Customer is a market research technique that produces a detailed set of customer wants and needs, organised into a hierarchical structure, and then prioritised in terms of relative importance and satisfaction with current alternatives.

VOIC – Voice of internal customer.

Voice platform – A voice platform executes the commands and logic specified by a voice application, provides speech processing capabilities (e.g., speech recognition, text-to-speech, voice authentication) and enables application creation. They also interface with back-end systems (e.g., databases, CRM applications, legacy systems) and call centre infrastructure (i.e., computer telephony integration), and provide system management and administration capabilities.

Voice print – A set of features extracted from a sample of a person’s voice that are stored in a speaker authentication system.

Voice user interface (VUI) – How a person interacts with a speech application.

VXML – Voice XML (extensible markup language) – VXML is similar to HTML in that it enables users to interact with the Internet through voice-recognition technology. It relies on a voice browser and/or the telephone to access information. VXML handles input and output audio dialog, dialog sequencing, error handling and client-side scripting.

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World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) – An international consortium of companies involved with the Internet and the Web. The organisation’s purpose is to develop open standards so that the Web evolves in a single direction rather than being splintered among competing factions. Workflow – The automation of procedures by imposing a set of sequential rules on the procedure.

Workforce Management – Workforce management (WFM) is a strategic process that ensures every person is in the right place at the right time.

Workforce Optimisation – When your technology and processes are disconnected, your contact centre workforce is not operating at peak efficiency. Workforce optimisation connects and streamlines contact centre technology and processes. This positively impacts operating costs, staff productivity and customer satisfaction.

Workforce Planning – Workforce planning is a process used by all types of organisations to maximise efficiency and productivity. A productive and efficient workforce can be achieved when an organisation’s objectives are aligned with the strategic and operational elements of a workforce.

Workflow Management – Workflow management is the coordination of all the tasks and processes done by the workforce of an organisation.

Workload Management – Workload management is a strategy designed to optimise staff performance by distributing tasks in an intelligent way.

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