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Contact Center Definitions

Glossary of contact center, call center and customer experience terms

A

Agent

A person who manages inbound or outbound calls and other customer interactions for an organization. This person might have a wide range of responsibilities involving account inquiries, complaints, or product and support issues. An agent is also known as a customer service representative (CSR).

Agent coaching

Coaching is used to give call center agents feedback as part of quality management and employee training. It can be part of regular performance assessments, or done in real time when needed during customer interactions.

Agent occupancy

This is the percentage of time agents are actively engaged in customer interactions in relation to their available or idle time. As a statistic, it’s used to calculate call center productivity. Agent occupancy considers only live logged-in time, while agent utilization considers total time at work — including logged-out time such as training.

Agent utilization

Agent utilization represents the percentage of time agents spend on handling calls and other customer interactions as well as related work. These rates can be used to calculate agent efficiency. Agent utilization considers total time at work — including logged-out time such as training — while agent occupancy considers only live logged-in time.

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.

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 call distributor (ACD)

An automatic call distributor (ACD) is a telephony software system that answers incoming calls and routes them to a specific agent or department within a company. The system intelligently routes a call to the most appropriate agent based on the caller’s needs.

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.

Average hold time

This is the average length of time a customer is put on hold before interacting with a call center agent. It’s typically calculated using a large volume of data over a specified period of time.

B

Back office management

Back office management is the administration of a company’s human resources, technology and services. The back office typically supports, and works to deliver on, the objectives and promises of the front office team. Back office departments are historically far less efficient than customer-facing organizations or contact center operations. The lack of coordination between various systems causes a maze of disconnected workloads, systems, and people. Without optimal workload management, tasks and customer communication are siloed, resulting in frustrated customers and unmotivated employees. Organizations who manage the back office successfully see an increase in customer and employee satisfaction and overall brand loyalty.

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 process outsourcing (BPO)

Business process outsourcing (BPO) is the practice of outsourcing specific business processes to a third-party provider. Businesses typically outsource functions outside the specific focus of the business, such as HR services or call center operations. Enlisting an outsourced service can boost efficiency, save costs and free up internal resources to focus on more specialized tasks.

C

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 agent scorecard

A call center agent scorecard is an important tool for measuring and improving performance in a call center. The scorecard typically includes key metrics like first-call resolution that provide a basis for helping customer service agents set goals and track progress. It can also be used to provide incentives, as part of a gamification strategy, to keep agents engaged and motivated.

Call center agent software

Call center agent software is any desktop or mobile application that enables call center agents to effectively manage customer interactions. Most call center agent software includes features such as an integrated dialer, recording capabilities and analytics. Advanced cloud-based applications have automation capabilities that route calls to the right agent or department. They also include chatbots, voicebots and other artificial intelligence (AI) tools.

Call center agent utilization

This represents the percentage of time call center agents spend on handling calls and other customer interactions, and related work. These rates can be used to calculate agent efficiency. In call centers, agent utilization considers total time at work — including logged-out time such as training — while agent occupancy considers only live logged-in time.

Call center coaching

Coaching is used to give call center agents feedback as part of quality management and employee training. It can be part of regular performance assessments or done in real time when needed during customer interactions.

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 reporting

Call centers track and report on KPIs and other predefined metrics. These give insights into overall call center efficiency and productivity; customer journeys; and the performance of individuals such as agents. Reports are displayed on dashboards, enabling staff to monitor the call center and take action, as needed.

Call center RFP

A request for proposal (RFP) simplifies decision-making by systematizing the evaluation process so you can evaluate the right information to compare vendors and choose the best solution. A company uses the formal RFP framework when decision makers know what they want to buy and are soliciting multiple offers. A formal RFP document specifies your business and technical requirements — comparing the most important vendor capabilities so you can identify and select the best products or services. Check out our handy guide if you need some practical help to start your own RFP process.

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.

Chat messages

Allows agents and supervisors to communicate during a contact. Reduces hold times and increase first and final contact resolution.

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.

Co-browse

Co-browse, sometimes referred to as “screen share,” facilitates a collaborative browsing session between a customer and a contact center agent. Based on the customer’s needs, an agent can see the customer’s screen, move their cursor, highlight or annotate key areas on the screen, and even take full control of the browsing session to help the customer achieve their goals.

Contact center

A contact center is a modern call center. 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 center agent

Front office employees that are customer-facing and typically the primary point of human customer contact within an organization.

Contact center as a service (CCaaS)

Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) is a cloud-based customer experience solution that allows companies to utilize a contact center provider’s software. A CCaaS model allows businesses to purchase only the technology they need, which reduces the need for internal IT support. CCaaS is an ideal option for many contact centers, offering scalability as operational needs change.

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.

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 acquisition cost

Customer acquisition cost is the amount of money it takes to convert a potential lead into a new customer. These costs can be incurred in the form of sales, marketing, overhead, time and other resources expended.

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 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 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 feedback

Customer feedback is an essential element of customer service. It is any information provided by customers that can help businesses better understand their customers’ needs and expectations. Customer feedback can be gathered in various forms, including surveys, focus groups, customer service calls, online reviews and social media comments. The feedback can provide insight into the customer experience that can help businesses improve customer satisfaction, loyalty and overall performance.

Customer interaction analytics

Customer interaction analytics is the process of turning unstructured data found in email, voice, chat and more into structured data that can be searched and analyzed.

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 map

A customer journey map is a visualization of the paths customers take across channels and over time. These maps enable teams to broaden their perspective beyond internal goals to include the customer's perspective.

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)

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.

D

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.

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.

Direct inward dialing (DID)

Dialing within a company without going through an operator.

Dual tone multi frequency (DTMF)

Touchtone dialing. In DTMF, pushing the button sends a combination of two tones’ one high frequency, one low frequency.

E

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 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

Experience orchestration

Experience orchestration enables you to coordinate technology based on the experience you want your customers to have across all channels of engagement. Businesses use it to build deeper, more loyal relationships as part of a guided process for consistent service. It also helps derive valuable context for the business. It works by using automation to create real-time insight about customer interactions. You can use this for proactive decision-making, taking action when it will be most impactful and appropriate.

F

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.

G

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.

H

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.

Hosted services

Hosted services are software applications, compute resources and other information technology (IT) services that reside and are managed remotely, usually in the cloud. A third-party provider typically hosts these services and maintains and manages the necessary infrastructure. Hosted services can be used for a variety of purposes — from running an online store to running a contact center.

I

Inbound call center

An inbound call center is a customer service function dedicated to receiving incoming calls from customers or potential customers. The inbound call center handles a variety of customer calls, ranging from product questions to technical support to sales inquiries. Customer service representatives who understand the company’s products and services — and can provide helpful advice and solutions — typically staff inbound call centers.

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.

J

Journey mapping

Journey mapping is the process of visually illustrating the actions and perceptions customers take or have as they achieve their goals throughout a relationship with your company. Journey mapping helps cross-functional teams align on ideal journeys that can improve the customer's experience.

M

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.

Modern contact center

A modern contact center is a central point in an enterprise from which inbound and outbound customer communications—including voice calls, email, social media, and Web chat—are managed and supported to continuously meet the adoption of new customer experience (CX) channels. The contact center plays a critical role in today's customer experience. As customer expectation and demands have changed, contact center modernization has become a key differentiator. Genesys Customer Experience Platform provides solutions in the cloud, on premises or a hybrid deployment to enable companies like yours to deliver an optimal omnichannel customer experience.

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.

N

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

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.

O

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 cloud contact center

An omnichannel cloud contact center 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 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 call center

An outbound call center is a central point where call center agents contact current or prospective customers on behalf of an organization. Outbound calls are conducted for many purposes, including but not limited to: sales calls to prospective customers, debt collection, customer surveys, or for proactive customer service.

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.

P

Performance management system

A performance management system is a software solution that helps contact center leaders track individual and team performance, pinpoint individual development needs, and improve employee engagement. Through personalized dashboards, gamification and recognition opportunities, performance management systems enable employees to contribute to a culture of continuous improvement.

Predictive dialing

Predictive dialing is a method of making several automated outbound calls without using agents. Answered calls are then passed to agents. A computer makes dialing decisions based on certain algorithms to support business objectives.

Private branch exchange (PBX)

Private branch exchange (PBX) is a private telephone network used within a company. Users can communicate internally (within the company) and externally (outside the company) using different communication channels like VoIP, ISDN or analog.

Prompt

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

Public switched telephone network (PSTN)

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

R

Reports agent

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

S

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.

Sentiment analysis

Sentiment analysis, also referred to as opinion mining, is the process of analyzing speech or text to identify the emotional tone. The process uses artificial intelligence (AI)-powered natural language processing (NLP) to determine how the customer feels throughout an interaction. This information is an important component of Voice of the Customer (VoC) analysis.

Server

A provider of resources.

Softphone

A softphone is a software application that allows you to make phone calls over the internet. This type of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software is installed on an internet-connected device and doesn’t require a traditional telephone.

Software as a service (SaaS)

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a software licensing model in which software applications are centrally hosted by a provider and delivered to customers via a web browser. SaaS is typically licensed on a subscription basis. SaaS is a viable option for many contact centers wishing to improve profitability and customer experience without increasing operation costs. By reducing hardware and software support and maintenance costs by moving to the cloud, contact center executives can focus more time and resources on delivering exceptional customer experiences Genesys Customer Experience Platform is a cloud-based solution that helps businesses deliver exceptional customer experiences while leveraging a SaaS model to reduce the total cost of ownership.

Speech analytics

Speech analytics uses artificial intelligence (AI)-powered natural language understanding (NLU) to analyze voice recordings or live customer calls. The analysis can spot topics or key phrases; identify customer intent and sentiment; and help contact centers assess both agent performance and drivers of inbound interactions.

T

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.

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.

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 centers in a communication solution.

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.

U

Unified communications as a service (UCaaS)

Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is a collection of cloud-based solutions that consolidate real-time and asynchronous communication technologies into a single interface or platform. This improves communication, collaboration and productivity within the organization.

V

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 authentication

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

Voice extensible markup language (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.

Voice of internal customer (VOIC)

Voice of internal customer.

Voice of the 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.

Voice over IP (VoIP)

Voice over IP (VoIP) is a technology that converts your voice into a digital signal, allowing you to make a call directly from a computer, a VoIP phone or another data-driven device. You can make phone calls anytime, anywhere, using an internet-connected computer, a headset and VoIP.

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 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.

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.

W

Workflow management

Workflow management is the administration of a sequence of tasks and processes throughout an organization’s workforce.

Workforce engagement

Workforce engagement describes the level of commitment and enthusiasm employees feel for the work they do, the customers they serve and the company that employs them. Workforce engagement is tightly aligned with the quality of the customer experience. A highly engaged workforce is more likely to align individual professional growth with company goals and values, resulting in a stronger voice for the organization’s brand.

Workforce engagement management (WEM)

Workforce engagement management (WEM) is a software solution that helps contact centers understand and improve employee engagement. Using artificial intelligence (AI)-powered capabilities, the solution simplifies workflows, boosts individual and team performance, informs professional development, and improves the employee experience.

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.

Workforce planning

A systematic, ongoing process of effective planning, forecasting, and scheduling to provide more efficient distribution of interactions and work across channels.

Workload management

Workload management is the process of strategically distributing work throughout the workforce in order to maximize employee or application skill and performance.