Contact Center Acronyms: What They Mean & When to Use Them

16 minute read

Stin Mattu Product Marketing Manager for Contact Center Products

Contact Centers have found their place in the center of the business world as the one of the main interaction points customers have to discuss their products or services. Those who have worked in contact centers will tell you that as well as knowing the language used to talk to customers, you also have to understand the sub language of business terms and acronyms.

As you start your journey, you pick up the common terms and before you know it, you become well versed in acronyms and abbreviations that make essential conversations in contact centers focused in fast paced environments where every second counts.

If you don’t know what I am talking about, fear not, as in this blog we want to share some of the key acronyms and terms we have learned in the many collective years of working in and with contact center teams, along with what they mean in real terms. Once you’ve read through them, feel free to try the simple quiz at the end.

ABR – Abandonment Rate

During busy periods, planning teams and supervisors will monitor the number of calls that are abandoned before the call is connected to an agent. This is commonly knowns as the Abandonment Rate (ABR) or Average Time of Abandonment (ATA) when time the caller stayed on for is measured.

ACD – Automatic Call Distributor

An automatic call distributor (ACD) uses set criteria including customer data, the option they select from the recorded message (also known as IVR, see below), an agent’s skillset or the time of day to route calls to agents, ensuring the right person answers the call.

ACW – After Call Work

Once a call is completed, there are tasks that the agent might need to do, like completing any account admin and saving notes. These tasks are known as after call work (ACW), this can also be known as wrap or wrap up.

AHT – Average Handle Time

Average handling time (AHT) is one of the most known acronyms. AHT is the average time taken to handle customer queries while on calls. Supervisors monitor agent performance to ensure as many calls are completed within the target time. AHT can be broken down to include hold and wrap times, these can be a good indictors for agents who are struggling consistently and an opportunity to identify coach needs. Running at the optimum AHT helps more customers get the quality of service they expect.

ANI – Automatic Number Identification

Automatic Number Identification (ANI) lets agents see the incoming call number as basic caller ID. ANI can also route callers by location and match them to existing contacts. This can also be known as Call Line Identity (CLI).

API – Application Programming Interface

An Application Programming Interface (API) is the link between different software applications that enables them to work together. Acting as the interface between applications, the API sends requests from an application and receives the required information back, this allows seamless integration between both products or services.

ASA – Average Speed to Answer

Quite simply, an average of the time it takes for agents to answer a call. During peak periods, Average Speed to Answer helps planning teams and supervisors ensure they have the right number of agents available to pick up the demand in calls.

ASR – Automatic Speech Recognition

With Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), contact centers can quickly route customer calls to the right agent without human intervention by using computers to analyze the customer’s speech. This way, agents are no longer required to operate the front-end switchboard and calls are routed faster at less cost. Coupled with Natural Language Processing (NLP – See below), can lead to a better customer experience.

AWA – Advanced Work Assignment

Advance Work Assignment (AWA) is a way to allocate work based on a mixture of an agents availability, capacity and skillset. This allows an organization to become more productive using AWAs to assign work to the right agents.

BC/DR – Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery

Whenever disaster strikes, the contact center will have a business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) plan in place to minimize damage and disruption to productivity.

BI – Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence (BI) are integrated tools used to collate data from multiple sources and present it in more digestible ways than just looking at numbers on spreadsheets. When used correctly data driven decision can be made as BI tools can give a compelling picture on performance, highlighting areas that can be improved.

BPO – Business Process Outsourcing

Business process outsourcing (BPO) is a term used to describe when a contact center outsources operations or responsibilities to third party service providers, typically cloud service providers.

BYOT – Bring Your Own Telephony

Bring Your Own Telephony (BYOT) is a term associated with the ability for an organization to use its existing telephony product with another piece of software that may also have a telephony option. Being able to BYOT, helps organizations to transition to new software more easily as there is less disruption than having to change telephony products/providers that may already be meeting their needs.

CDR – Call Detail Record

Once a call with a customer is completed, a Call Detail Record (CDR) is left on the Customer Record Management (CRM – see below) or Information Technology Service Management (ITSM – see below) tool. Information recorded consists of a time and date stamp for the call, the agents identifier along with details of the interaction.

CED – Caller Entered Digits

Caller Entered Digits (CED) are the numbers pressed by the caller on their keypad. This commonly determines where the call is routed through the Automatic Call Distributor (ACD – see above)

CLI – Call Line Identity

See ANI above.

CIQ – Calls In Queue

Many call centers will have a visual indication of the number of Calls In Queue (CIQ) to help supervisors and agents manage AHT effectively. CIQ along with the number of available agents also contribute to the Grade Of Service (GOS – see below)

CRM – Customer Relationship Management

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a fundamental component of any contact center and is used to manage the relationship and interactions between existing and potential customers to improve business relationships. Examples of CRMs include Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Genesys Cloud amongst others. CRMs commonly use APIs to utilize components of other service products such as Computer telephony integration (CTI), Knowledge Management (KM) and Customer Experience Management (CXM) tools to help improve the service customers receive.

CSA/CSR – Customer Service Agent/Advisor/Customer Service Representative

Every call center has teams of frontline heroes who ensure that customers get the best service possible. What they are called can vary from company to company but are commonly known as Customer Service Agents/Advisors (CSA) or Customer Services Representatives (CSR). Salute to all the CSA/CSRs around the world who are there for customers when they need them most.

CSAT – Customer Satisfaction

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) is a measure of how happy a customer is with a product, service or interaction with a company. It can be determined with a simple survey.

CTI – Computer Telephony Integration

Computer telephony integration (CTI) is a type of software used by contact centers to connect their CRM to their telephone system to increase agent productivity, enhance collaboration, aid efficiency and help businesses deliver a higher quality of service to their customers.

CXM – Customer Experience Management

Customer Experience Management (CXM) initiatives are put into place to identify and exceed customer interactions. CXM tools can be used pre and post call to capture how smooth interactions with a business are. A successful CXM program leads to higher customer satisfaction and continued brand loyalty.

DID – Direct Inward Dialing

Direct Inward Dialing (DID) is a feature that enables contact centers to assign a personal number to each employee without requiring a separate telephone line. This allows customers to directly dial a department or agent bypassing the need to be transferred between agents. Some countries use the term Direct Dial-In (DDI) instead.

DMS – Document Management System

For contact centers that receive a large number of incoming emails, a Document Management System (DMS) opens and scans each message, and then sorts them for electronic distribution. This way, a task that would take a considerable amount of time if it was done manually can be completed in minutes.

DNIS – Dialed Number Identification Service

Some companies will have different numbers for specific products or services that can be routed through to the same contact center departments. Where ANI identifies the incoming call number, Dialed Number Identification Service (DNIS) does the opposite – it tells you which number was called. This is helpful for call center operation teams to identify call volumes for their different products and services.

ESAT – Employee Satisfaction

In the same way that Customer Satisfaction (CSAT – see above) is an important metric to measure the health of the relationship with customers, Employee Satisfaction (ESAT) is the equivalent to gauge how staff feel about their jobs. A happy engaged workforce always enable better results for customers.

EWT – Expected Wait Time

When placed on hold a customer will be given an expected wait time (EWT) to let them know how long it will be before an agent is available to take their call.

FCR – First Call Resolution

First Call Resolution (FCR) is a metric used in contact centers to monitor the quality of service customers receive from agents by measuring how many times they had to call in to resolve their query. If the customer makes a repeat contact within a set number of days, this impacts the FCR rate. The number of days that count towards FCR vary between companies.

FTE – Full Time Equivalent

One of the measures used to establish how many employees a company has available to work is Full Time Equivalent (FTE). Counting by the number for people doesn’t give you accurate data if a portion of those employees only work part time, measuring the average based on the number of hours they work gives you a clearer indication on available staff. This can help planning and resource teams maintain the amount of staff needed to answer calls more accurately.

GoS – Grade of Service

Grade Of Service (GoS) measures the number of calls taken within a given time frame to allow resource teams to manage the number of available agents available to serve customers more effectively.

ITSM – Information Technology Service Management

Some contact centers concentrate solely on software related issues, these fall under a category known Information Technology Service Management (ITSM). Common ITSM tools used in service desks include ServiceNow, BMC, Cherwell amongst others which can also be used with CTI, KM and CXM integrations.

IVR – Interactive Voice Response

Much like voice recognition, contact centers use an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system to route customers through to the necessary agent or department by asking them to choose from a menu of options or enter information, using their phone keypad.

KCS – Knowledge Centered Service

Knowledge Centered Service (KCS) is a leading Knowledge Management (KM) methodology designed to capture knowledge as part of the call flow so it can be reshared quickly with other agents and customers. KCS encourages collective ownership of an organizations knowledge and has practices in place to ensure knowledge is constantly reviewed through reuse which ensures knowledge remains accurate.

KM – Knowledge Management

Every contact center relies on its agent to be as knowledgeable about their products or services in order to deliver exceptional customer service. Knowledge Management (KM) is the process of capturing relevant knowledge and delivering it to users at the time of need. In a contact center, this helps reduce an agents cognitive load and can be integrated into their CRM for quick access. For customers, relevant information can be made available through digital self-service channels.

KPIs – Key Performance Indicators

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are a collection of data that help measure performance at all levels. Agent KPIs include AHT, CSAT and NPS (see below) that usually make up scorecard used by supervisors to coach agents.

LOA – Least Occupied Agent

Least Occupied Agent (LOA) is an indicator for an agent who has the lowest rate of occupancy. It is calculated by taking the time that they have been on calls compared to how long they have been available.

NBA – Next Best Action

Next Best Action (NBA) tools are used to guide agents on options of what is the best thing to get done for the customer. They can be used to guide agents through the call in both a service and sales context by pulling in different forms of customer data that builds a profile of what can benefit the customer. Organization can use it as a KPI to ensure that agents are utilizing NBA in their interactions.

NLP – Natural Language Processing

Natural Language Processing (NLP) is an advanced form of voice recognition that allows the customer to say what the reason for their call is so they are routed through to the correct department. In more advanced cases, this can eliminate the need to use a traditional IVR set up although they can be used in conjunction. There are significant time saving opportunities when using NLP in call steering the customer can be put through quicker which in turn can improve the customer experience.

NPS – Net Promoter Score

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a loyalty measurement of how likely a customer is to recommend your company, product or service to a friend, usually captured by a Customer Experience Management (CXM) tool. Using a single survey question with a 1-10 scale, customers are grouped into a category: promoter, passive, or detractor. The NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. NPS coupled with CSAT can give businesses an insight on customer perception to maintain a positive brand image.

PBX – Private Branch Exchange

Private Branch Exchange (PBX) is the term used for the communication systems used within organizations that enable multiple inbound/outbound lines, routing and call management features. They can run analogue or digital channels and can either be set up on premise but also hosted by an external provider.

PSTN – Public Switched Telephone Network

Analogue telephone calls are made over a Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) line by connecting two communication points through a network of exchanges and switches across the world.

QM – Quality Monitoring

In order to ensure that contact centers are continuously providing the best possible experience for their customers, Quality Monitoring (QM) is carried out in various forms to monitor agent performance. QM is also commonly known as Quality Assurance (QA).

ROI – Return on Investment

One of the considerations organizations have when looking for new technology or methodologies is what the Return On Investment (ROI) will be. It is used to determine how quickly the investment will pay for itself through the improvements and efficiencies that it brings in the work that is done.

SBR  – Skill-Based Routing

Skill-Based Routing (SBR) is an intelligent call routing system that will automatically direct customers with a specific problem to agents with the skills needed to resolve that issue in the fastest possible time, without having to escalate the call any further.

SIP – Session Initiation Protocol

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is the process to transmitting messages between communication points that enable calls between the two. SIP can also be used for video calling as well as instant messaging.

SLA – Service Level Agreement

Service Level Agreements (SLA) are put in place to ensure that tasks are responded to or completed within an agreed period of time. In some instances, an SLA will make up part of a contractual agreement between a vendor and a customer as an assurance for continuity of service.

TAPI – Telephony Application Programming Interface

A Telephony Application Programming Interface (TAPI) is an API that enables computer telephony integration. It puts call controls in the hands of an application so it can interact with a phone system.

TCO – Total Cost of Ownership

When an organization invests in new program or technology, it will want to know what the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is. The TCO is an estimate of the cost of deploying a product or service over the time that the contract will be active, this is made up of factors including initial cost, training requirements, support costs and operational running cost. This combined with the Return on Investment (ROI – see above), gives an organization an idea on whether the investment is a viable one.

TSAPI – Telephony Server Application Programming Interface

Similar to TAPI, a Telephony Service Application Programming Interface (TSAPI) is also an API that makes it easier for CTI solutions to integrate telephony and computer systems, except it is server-based.

TTS – Text to Speech

As technology has evolved, Text to Speech has become a useful component in call centers utilizing Interactive Voice Response (IVR – see above) systems. TTS works by synthesizing text into spoken word meaning IVR selections can be quickly updated to add new options without having to find a human to record the voice over and upload to the system.

UC – Unified Communications

Unified Communications (UC) systems do exactly what they say on the tin, they are used to unify all available communication channels to allow the user to receive and reply to messages through the channel they prefer. Channels can include voice, video, instant messaging, audio messaging, mobile messaging and email.

VoIP – Voice over Internet Protocol

Traditionally, telephone calls were made over Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN – see above) lines where numbers had to be allocated to a property with a telephone connected. With the emergence of digital technologies and the internet, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) allows for digital calls to be made over the internet which can be connected to physical handsets or softphones on digital devices. VoIP still allows you to have a phone number but the advantage is you are not tethered to a physical line.

VPN – Virtual Private Network

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) secures internet connections and protects communications and data shared between users. Organizations use VPNs to protect their corporate networks from security threats as they have stronger encryption than open networks.

WFO – Work Force Optimization

Time is money in contact centers and work force optimization (WFO) is a strategy used to ensure that productivity levels remain high and no precious seconds are wasted. Examples of WFO include automating processes, data visibility, compliance on legislation and resolving business problems related to staff. Workforce Force Management (WFM) teams oversee the management of the strategy.

And now for the quiz.

Where can you find best in class CTI, CXM and KM products to help you optimize your call center operations?

The answer can be found here.

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