Contact center definitions
Glossary of contact center, call center and
customer experience terms
ACD – Automatic Call Distributor. A phone system that performs four basic functions: answers incoming calls, gets information and instructions from database, determines the best way to handle the call, and sends the call to the proper agent, as soon as one is available. They often have limited capabilities to route calls to agents beyond traditional queue-based routing functionality.
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 center. 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 Dialer – An auto dialer is an outbound call center solution that automatically dials customer telephone numbers and can deliver important information through an automated message, or can connect a customer to a live agent once the call has been answered.
Automatic callback – A computer telephony calling feature that permits a customer—when encountering a busy condition or other condition where an agent is unavailable—to instruct the system to return their call when an agent becomes available.
Average handling time (AHT) – The amount of time an agent is occupied on an incoming call.
Back office optimization – Back-office optimization is the process of streamlining and automating workforce tasks that occur in a contact center, and aligning back office functions with front office workflows in order to improve customer experience (CX) across the customer lifecycle.
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 recognized. See also echo cancellation.
Blended agent – An employee in the role of contact center agent who divides their time and attention between multiple communication channels (voice, email, SMS, etc.) to service customer needs.
Business optimization – A systematic process of improving performance by managing and optimizing key areas of an organization 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.
Call center – A physical location where a high volume of customer and other telephone calls are handled by an organization, usually with some amount of computer automation. Call centers typically provide voice only inbound, outbound and limited self-service customer interactions. See also: Contact Center.
Call Center CRM – Call Center Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a call center technology solution that provides employees with access to account information and history in an effort to provide a real-time, personalized customer experience across all channels including voice, web and social.
Call center management – The way in which organizations manage the daily operations of the call center, including forecasting, scheduling, employee training, reporting, and all customer interactions. Call center management can be modernized through use of workforce optimization solutions.
Call center workforce optimization – A customer experience strategy that modernizes call center technologies and platforms, through the use of digital channels, in order to improve customer satisfaction.
Call center workforce planning – Call center workforce planning addresses all elements of the call center including team scheduling, training and forecasting.
Call time – A metric used in contact centers to measure the average time an agent is assisting a customer.
Call distribution – The call volume distributed over the hours of the day.
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.
CCaaS (contact center as a service) – A comprehensive contact center solution offered on a subscription basis and made available from the cloud.
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 increase first and final contact resolution.
Container user interface – Consolidates Telephony & Email contacts into one desktop interface for easier management.
Cloud call center – A web-accessible platform for handling customer calls and interactions. Call centers based in the cloud can be accessed from virtually anywhere, eliminating the need for a physical infrastructure, which may reduce operational costs and increase scalability to support evolving customer experience strategies.
Cloud contact center – A central point in an enterprise, hosted on an Internet server, from which all inbound and outbound customer communications are handled. Cloud contact centers make interactions through voice, email, social media and the web accessible from virtually anywhere.
Contact center – A centralized place where messages in a variety of media are sent and received. A contact center would typically be provided with special software that would allow contact information to be routed to appropriate people, contacts to be tracked, and data to be gathered. A contact center is considered to be an important element in multichannel marketing. See also: Call Center.
Contact center agent – Front office employees that are customer-facing and typically the primary point of human customer contact within an organization.
Contact Center CRM – Contact Center Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a contact center software solution that provides employees with access to account information and history in an effort to provide a real-time, personalized customer experience across all channels, including voice, web and social.
Contact center management – The way in which organizations manage the daily operations of the contact center workforce, across multiple touchpoints and channels, in order to accommodate omnichannel customer journeys.
Contact center workforce optimization – A customer experience strategy that integrates contact center technologies and processes in order to deliver seamless omnichannel customer journeys in a multi-channel workforce.
Contact center workforce planning – Contact center workforce planning is the process of aligning the strategic and operational elements of a contact center workforce with organizational objectives.
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.
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. Computer control and functionality applied to telephony hardware.
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 organization based on relevant, personalized experiences and the anticipation of the customer’s evolving needs.
Customer effort score (CES) – A measurement focused on service interactions in contact center 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 (CX) – CX is made of individual customer touchpoints. The sum of all experiences a customer has with a company over the lifecycle of their relationship is called a customer journey.
Customer experience management (CEM) – A strategy that focuses on the operations and processes used to create a positive customer experience with focus on your organization, product, service, or brand.
Customer experience platform – Contact center 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 journey – The customer journey consists of multiple touchpoints and key interactions each customer or prospect has with a company—including messaging, employees, processes, products or services. Single or multiple interactions can be considered a customer journey and are part of a holistic customer experience lifecycle.
Customer Journey Management – Customer journey management is the practice of using behavioral trends and technology to influence and optimize the customer experience (CX). Customer journey management aims to minimize the customer effort across all channels and touchpoints, ensuring a seamless experience every time a customer interacts with your company.
Customer Journey Optimization – Customer journey optimization is the process of connecting and mapping customer interactions, across multiple touchpoints, in order to direct or influence the end-to-end experience.
Customer satisfaction (CSAT or C-SAT) – A measurement that determines how an organization meets the expectations of its customers based on satisfaction. Customers are asked a question following a transaction about their satisfaction with the company, which is then rated from one (very dissatisfied) to five (very satisfied).
Customer service – Customer service is the assistance and service provided by an organization to customers before, during, and after the purchase of products or services.
Customer relationship management (CRM) – A strategy used to learn more about customers needs and behaviors in order to develop stronger relationships with them. CRM helps businesses use technology and human resources to gain insight into the behavior of customers and the value of those customers. If implemented properly, CRM will provide better customer service, make call centers 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.
Database – A structured set of files, records, or tables. Often abbreviated DB. A collection of information organized 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 recognizing 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 dialing. In DTMF, pushing the button sends a combination of two tones’ one high frequency, one low frequency.
Echo cancellation – The process of making the channel quiet enough so that the system can hear and recognize 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
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 center 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 center 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.
Grammar – The inputs that a recognizer 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 recognizer, 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.
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 center – A hosted call center is a customer experience solution where an organization’s inbound, outbound, and voice-based self-service customer interactions are handled. Customer interactions are hosted on a service provider’s back-office systems, therefore offering lower cost of ownership.
Hosted contact center – A hosted contact center is a customer experience solution where an organization’s central point of inbound and outbound communications are hosted on a service provider’s back-office systems, therefore offering lower cost of ownership.
Hosted Dialer – A hosted dialer is a contact center cloud-based technology that enables cross-channel contact strategies in order to maximize the time agents spend on the phone, while accurately predicting agent availability, optimally pacing dialing, and filtering out unproductive calls.
Integrated browser – Provides agents with easy access to frequently used sites on the internet or company intranet. Administrator configures accessible URLs.
Interactions – the way in which customers engage with your organization 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 organizational 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.
Interactive voice response (IVR) – A system that uses responses from a touch tone telephone to gather and store data. An IVR is automated telephone information system that speaks to the caller with a combination of fixed voice menus and data extracted from databases in real time. The caller responds by pressing keys on the telephone keypad or speaking words or short phrases. This can also be used for voice self-service which can used to escalate customers to human-assisted service. It uses a human voice to read back. When set up with voice recognition software, data can be gathered through voice instead of touch tone. See also VRU.
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.
Key stroke macros – No coding required for defining agent workflows. Monitors your keystrokes to define a workflow.
Lifetime customer value (LCV) – The value of a customer over their lifetime as a customer of an organization 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 organization collects customer or employee feedback.
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.
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.
Mobile Voice – Mobile voice is the emerging technology that combines recent advances in mobile and voice recognition. The combination of the two technologies results in users being able to talk to their mobile devices, be understood by the device, and accomplish tasks.
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 organization or its representatives can be a “moment of truth”.
Multichannel cloud call center – A multi-channel cloud call center is a customer experience platform that integrates multiple touchpoints—including voice, text, social media and the web—making customer interactions accessible via an Internet server. A multi-channel cloud call center can be accessed from virtually anywhere, eliminating the need for a physical infrastructure and reducing incremental costs to expanding call center capabilities.
Multichannel cloud contact center – A multi-channel cloud contact center 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 center can be accessed from virtually anywhere, eliminating the need for increased physical infrastructure while meeting the evolving demands of today’s customer communication preferences.
Natural language speech recognition (NLSR) – An advanced type of speech recognition. NLSR can recognize particular words and phrases, but it can also interpret and assign meaning to those words and phrases. NLSR can also recognize 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.
Omnichannel cloud call center – An omnichannel cloud call center is a multi-channel contact center that delivers seamless customer experiences across all touchpoints leveraging modern cloud based infrastructure and services. In a cloud-based contact center, the company does not actually own, host or operate any equipment that the call center runs on; rather a third party service provider hosts the call center infrastructure in their own data center and the company will pay a monthly or annual service fee for hosting the infrastructure.
Omnichannel contact center – A multichannel contact center that combines orchestrated routing and end-to-end journey management to maximize the customer experience and business outcomes.
Omnichannel customer experience – An omnichannel customer experience is made up of individual customer touchpoints, over a variety of channels that seamlessly connect, allowing customers to pick up where they left off on one channel and continue the experience on another.
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
Omnichannel customer service – Omnichannel customer service consists of numerous interactions across multiple touchpoints between a customer, or prospective customer, and product or service provider during the time of sale, and throughout the customer lifecycle.
Outbound IVR – An Outbound IVR is a contact center solution used to proactively distribute communications to customers. This technology allows an organization to automatically engage customers through multiple channels such as automated voice calls, SMS messages, email or social media posts using personalized notifications.
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”.
Port – A connection or link between two devices that allows information to travel to a desired location.
Private branch exchange (PBX) – A private switching system, either manual or automatic, usually located on the customer’s premises.
Predictive dialing – A method of making many outbound calls without people, and then passing answered calls to people as the calls are answered. A computer makes the dialing decisions based on certain algorithms.
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.
Queue – A type of directory number created to hold calls or messages that are waiting to be picked up.
Recognizer – The part of the system that compares caller input to a 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.
SaaS (software as a service) – A licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and made available over the Internet.
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.
Talk time – The average time an agent spends on each call, a common call center 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.
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 organization (be it advertising, product, email, etc.) can be called a touchpoint. These touchpoints can spurn an interaction with the organization, 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 synthesized speech.
Trunk – A physical link (wire, optical line, and so forth) between telephone exchanges.
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.
Virtual Agent – A virtual agent is a contact center capability that uses a virtual character, created through computer generation, animation, and artificial intelligence, as a customer service agent via chat bot functionality. A virtual agent may also refer to a contact center or call center customer service agent that works from a remote location outside of an organization’s physical building.
Virtual call center (VCC) – A solution that supports contact center agents who are dispersed geographically instead working from a single physical location to provide customer service interactions.
Virtual contact center (VCC) – A virtual contact center (VCC) is a solution that supports contact center agents in various geographical locations instead of a single physical location.
Voice response unit (VRU) – A software system that uses responses from a touch tone telephone to gather and store data. It uses a human voice to read back. It is sometimes referred to as the Interactive Voice Response.
Vocabulary – A collection of words that the system is able to recognize 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, organized into a hierarchical structure, and then prioritized in terms of relative importance and satisfaction with current alternatives.
VOIC – Voice of internal customer.
Voice platform – Platforms are the foundation on which voice applications are developed and deployed. They execute the commands and logic specified by the voice application, provide the speech processing capabilities (e.g., speech recognition, text-to-speech, voice authentication), enable application creation, interface to back-end systems (e.g., databases, CRM applications, legacy systems) and call center 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.
VOIP – Voice over Internet Protocol. A protocol enabling the transmission of voice in digital packets instead of traditional PSTN.
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.
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) – An international consortium of companies involved with the Internet and the Web. The organization’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.
Workflow Management – Workflow management is the administration of a sequence of tasks and processes throughout an organization’s workforce.
Workforce Management – Workforce management is the process of strategically optimizing the productivity of employees, ensuring that all resources are in the right places at the right times. A workforce management strategy typically includes scheduling, forecasting, skills management and employee empowerment. Complexity increases with the need to ensure that customer service supports omnichannel customer engagement.
Workforce optimization (WFO) – Workforce optimization is a strategy used to integrate siloed technologies and automate processes in order to reduce operational costs and to better manage employee performance, resulting in greater efficiency and higher customer satisfaction.
Workload management – Workload management is the process of strategically distributing work throughout the workforce in order to maximize employee or application skill and performance.
Workforce planning – A systematic, ongoing process of effective planning, forecasting, and scheduling to provide more efficient distribution of interactions and work across channels.