10. September 2020 Blog

A to Z of call center terminology

Language is such a vivid construct, which it’s evolving almost every day. New words enter into our daily conversations imperceptibly and enable us to describe our reality more precisely.

In 2018 alone, more than 2000 words were added to the Cambridge Dictionary only - think about how many were created in informal chats during this time! To stay afloat and communicate fluently with your call center co-workers, it’s necessary to be familiar with the industry jargon. Sometimes it’s not so easy to figure out what’s what.

The longer you are a part of a specific sector, the bigger difference appears in your communication. Can you imagine delegating a task to your child, instead of simply asking him for help with mowing the lawn? Or requesting your partner to create KPIs for the week? Probably not - and neither do we.

Expressions that are common at your office don’t seem appropriate outside the workplace. But using them becomes a habit, as you hear them frequently. They are needed to describe specific issues, which occur on a daily basis. 

To keep you updated, we prepared a list of the most useful call center acronyms with their explanation.

What are the common call center abbreviations?

As a call center expert, you’re probably already familiar with many acronyms concerning the B2C sector. Nevertheless, looking through the following phrases might be a quick revision, or an opportunity to catch up with something new. The list is our subjunctive choice of the call center abbreviations, which are the nuts and bolts of them all (with a few lesser-known to spice things up).

Without further introduction - let’s demystify the call center jargon.

A

ACD

Automated Call Distribution system: a telecommunications technology that distributes incoming calls to a specific group of terminals or agents within an organization, based on pre-set distribution rules. It aims to route the caller automatically to the most appropriate agent, based on all available caller information stored in the call center system. Find out more here.  

ACW

After Call Work Stands for the post-call tasks, which a customer service representative has to do after the end of the conversation and the timing of them.  The goal is to shorten the time of tasks such as writing call notes, updating help desk information, and providing appropriate feedback.

API

Application Programming Interface: an IT term that defines interactions between software intermediaries; it connects channels in a call center and might synchronize your clients’ data from your business systems to keep agents updated with all necessary information.

B

BPO

Business Process Outsourcing: a method of subcontracting some business-related operations to third-party service providers or vendors. In these terms, it’s simply choosing a team of outsourced call center agents instead of providing inbound ones.

BI

Business Intelligence (refers to all kinds of business in general): transforming data into actionable insights that determine an organization’s strategic decisions. It also relates to tools that provide access to insights about the call center’s performance in an affordable way, based on available data.

C

CCR

Call Center Representative: a person, who answers incoming customer calls and provides personalized support.

CCR

Customer Control Routing: the process of customizing customer experience by routing incoming calls to specific agents that can solve their specific issues. It is achieved with the help of software wherein the caller is informed about the options at the beginning with the help of IVR.

CRM

Customer Relationship Management: a system that allows a call center to organize, automate, and synchronize every aspect of customer interaction.

CTI

Computer-Telephony Integration: connects the company’s telecom with the software and allows all call center agents to answer calls directly from their devices.

D

DID

Direct Inward Dialing: a telephone service that provides a block of numbers for calling directly to a specific phone at the company instead of waiting in a queue waiting for redirection. It can offer customers individual phone numbers for each person within the call center.

DNIS

Dialed Number Identification Service: a service offered by call centers to make commercial clients aware of what number was dialed for each incoming call. It allows the IVR to offer different menu options and route the calls to different groups of agents so that callers would be routed to the most suitable employee.

E

ERMS

Email Response Management System: software automation that helps with handling all the email messages. It categorizes individual emails, open, evaluates and, if needed, forwards them, to help with managing multiple communication channels within a call center.

EWT

Expected Wait Time: just as it sounds - it’s a period spent in a queue by an inbound call, waiting for an answer, or a callback, from an agent. It also includes the time when a caller is navigated through all the IVR prompts.

F

FCR

First Call Resolution: a metric, that shows a call center’s ability to resolve clients’ issues within the first call they make. It’s also an element of a CRM; it has a direct impact on service efficiency and costs.

FTE

Full-Time Equivalent: the number of staff you need to hire, to create a team, which can drive performance on the expected level. Specifically, one FTE equals full-time employee’s hours. It may consist of a few part-time employees, whose work altogether gives a full-time tenure.

G

GOS

Grade of Service: a metric used to calculate the probability of call being delayed or even blocked. Equivalent to the number of blocked calls divided by the number of offered calls.

I

ISDN

Integrated Services Digital Network: a telecommunications protocol, which describes a standard for digital telephony, concerning transmitting voice and data over traditional phone lines. It allows multiple devices to use the same phone line, which is necessary for the call centers.

IVR

Interactive Voice Response: an automated telephony software system interacting with the caller, who listens to the system menu and responds by choosing different options with the smartphone. An IVR can play a recorded greeting, connect callers with an agent, transfer them to a queue, or facilitate the self-service action. Read more here.

K

KM

Knowledge Management: the process of defining, structuring, and sharing the knowledge, experience, and initiatives of employees. The main goals of KM are to create value, save knowledge within an organization, meet its tactical and strategic needs, and improve a call center’s efficiency with wisdom that is useful for some purpose. 

KPI

Key Performance Indicator:  a way of measuring the progress of the company towards achieving its goals at multiple levels to measure its effectiveness and evaluate its success at reaching targets. Here are the most useful metrics to track in the call center.

L

LOA

Least Occupied Agent: just as it sounds - an agent who has taken the fewest calls up to that point in a day; it can be a base of call-routing strategy, which is the percentage of the time an agent remains busy throughout the day.

LAN

Local Area Network: connects technical devices together in one location, ranging from large to small: like one network user or thousands of users within an enterprise; devices include servers, desktop computers, and more.

M

MIA

Most Idle Agent: an employee who is available - ready and waiting to take (or make) calls.

MMR

Multi-Media Routing: an integration of many channels where you can talk with clients, such as email, text messages and voice calls to create an experience of comprehensive customer service. That’s possible by connecting call center software with other business tools

N

NSP

Network Service Provider: a company that sells bandwidth and access to internet backbone infrastructure & services mostly to other service providers.

O

OPA

Off Phone Activity: basically everything call center agents do when they aren’t making a call to a customer.

P

PBX

Private Branch Exchange: a telephone network in an enterprise that manages incoming and outcoming phone calls. It’s used for communicating by its users both: internally and externally, using different communication channels (like VoIP, ISDN).

PCP

Post Call Processing: an amount of time spent between two successive calls, when agents take to perform the post-call formalities.

PDA

Personal Digital Assistant: a small networked computer or a mobile device, which bases on application software, that works as a personal organizer; mostly replaced by displaced by smartphones.

PSTN

Public Switched Telephone Network: the aggregate of the world’s phone networks, operated by a combination of local, regional, or national telephony providers of public telecommunication.

Q

QM

Quality Monitoring: measuring the level of service in a call center by listening and evaluating phone conversations to improve call handling; often also by tracking the performance of agents and analyzing the KPIs & CRM metrics.

QoS

Quality of Service: the level and complexity of employees’ work and service, which is provided to customers, that manifests in client’s satisfaction; here’s a list of factors that determine QoS in a call center.

R

RNA

Ring No Answer: the amount of time when a customer service representative can’t make calls or isn’t at the place, so the calls are left unanswered.

ROI

Return on Investment: a financial metric used to evaluate the performance and the profitability of the investments, which are planned to be made or have already been made.

S

SBR

Skill-Based Routing: a strategy of routing a call directly to the most qualified agent in the call center, to provide the most suitable customer service to the particular issue.

SLA

Service Level Agreement: an interdependent commitment between organizations or a service provider and a client that defines particular aspects of this service, such as quality and responsibilities; it defines a level of service a client or a partner expects from the vendor.

T

TAPI

Telephony Applications Programming Interface: an API that provides an integration of telephony and computer services, allowing personal computers to use telephone services including voice calling, dialling, conferencing, and more.

TCO

Total Cost of Ownership: a financial estimate that determines the direct and indirect costs of operation, a product or system; it’s the purchase price plus the costs of operation.

TTS

Text to Speech: a form of assistive technology that converts text into a more-less natural-sounding spoken voice output using API.

V

VoIP

Voice Over Internet Protocol: a group of technologies that facilitate the delivery of voice communications and multimedia sessions over IP networks, instead of a local telephone company.

VPN

Virtual Private Network: extends a private network across a public network by creating a private network from a public internet connection. It gives you online privacy and anonymity by masking your IP address, which makes your online actions virtually untraceable. It might be safer than encrypted WiFi hotspots.

VRU

Voice Response Unit: an automated telephone answering system that manages inbound or the front end phone calls. It navigates a caller through a series of prerecorded messages from playing a greeting to presenting menu options, with which clients can interact with their keypad or speech (depending on the features).

W

WAN

Wide Area Network: a large telecommunications network that extends over a wide geographical area often established with leased circuits to facilitate communication between devices from around the world.

WFM

Workforce Management: is an integrated, institutional process meant to maximalize performance levels and competency of the organization’s employees. It includes activities to maintain a productive workforce and creating staff schedules to accomplish tasks with the best possible outcome.

WFO

Workforce Optimization: a business strategy involving processes automation, compliance on legislation, and solving problems related to staff’s performance. It’s focused on balancing customer satisfaction, operational costs, service levels, and other KPIs to get the maximum benefit out of the employees.

Call center terminology explained

As you can see - understanding what the phrases stated above mean is not rocket science. Make sure that your employees are familiar with these abbreviations, as it’s crucial for maintaining a high level of team’s workflow. Lack of such knowledge can lead to misunderstandings that can cost you time, money, or even a client. 

Although knowing what stands for the call center abbreviations is crucial, it’s not enough. If you want to implement any of the management strategies stated in the text, you need to dive deeper into the topic. As a leader, you should also look out for extending your team’s knowledge, concerning the terms mentioned upwards.

To do so you can organize workshops and look through other resources, such as publications on our blog. By ending them such articles you can inspire and educate them at once, saving your time.