Glossary

ACS (Automatic Call Sequencer). A device for handling incoming calls. Typically it answers an incoming call, gives the callers a message and puts them on hold, and then signals operators that a call is waiting. It has no internal switching mechanism and does not affect the call in any way. It provides an indication of which call should be picked up next in order of arrival and keeps statistical information on the progress of calls. No operator statistics are provided.

ACD (Automatic Call Distributor). A specialized phone system used for handling many incoming calls. The ACD will recognize and answer an incoming call and will look in its database for call-routing instructions. It will send the call to a recording or an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) or will send the call to an available operator according to the instructions for that call. An ACD will normally produce management information tracking both calls and operator performance. It will transfer the call to a recording or to an audible response unit.

Adherence. The term used to describe how well operators stick to their planned work schedules. May also be referred to as compliance.

Call/Contact Blending. The process of combining the flow of inbound/outbound calls and other contacts such as e-mail or web transactions to a set of operators. Contact blending can be accomplished manually or by means of automated systems that route the contacts to the operators capable of handling them.

Capacity Rental. A contract for contact center services according to which the client defines the number of workstations to be employed for a fixed price.

Contact Center. An operation with two or more persons handling incoming or outgoing calls. Contact centers may be help desks, customer service centers, sales centers, reservations centers, or telemarketing/collections operations.

CRM. Customer Relationship Management. The strategy of identifying customer needs, improving customer interactions, and customizing contacts, sales approaches, and automation to provide optimum service to each type of customer to maximize the bottom line benefits to the organization.

Cross-Selling. The technique used by telephone representatives to sell an additional product or service while engaged in a customer contact.

CTI (Computer Telephony Integration). The linking of the computer in the ACD system to the computer that houses the company‘s database to permit faster and more efficient handling of calls.

Facilities Management. An interdisciplinary field, field devoted to the coordination of space, infrastructure, people and organizations, often associated with managing the provision of general services for installations, such as office blocks, etc.

FTE (Full-Time Equivalent). Full-time equivalent person, equal to the number of total scheduled person hours divided by the number of hours per week that constitutes a full-time person (e.g., 40 hours, or 35 hours). FTE may consist of several part-time individuals whose combined work hours.

Front End. Customer service systems and interfaces of operators.

ICT. Information and Communications Technology, currently more used than IT, refers to all the technologies that are involved in and mediate information and communications processes between elements/beings in a given synergy.

Inbound. Type of contact center service in which operators wait for calls from customers.

IT (Information Technology). A term that encompasses all forms of technology used to create, store, exchange, and use information in its various forms (business data, voice conversations, still images, motion pictures, multimedia presentations, and other forms, including those not yet conceived).

IVR (Interactive Voice Response). A device that automates retrieval and processing of information by phone using touch tone signaling or voice recognition to access information residing on a server to give a response. The response may be given by a recorded human voice or a synthesized (computerized) voice. IVRs are used in applications such as "bank by phone" or "check on my order" which not only distribute information but collect transaction information as well.

MIS. A management information system, typically based on computers, utilized at the core of an organization.

Monitoring. The practice of listening to operators‘ telephone calls to assess the quality with which the call is handled. Also called service observation. May be silent, announced, side-by-side, or recorded for later review.

Occupancy. Generally a percent of logged-in time that an operator spends in active contact handling (i.e., on incoming calls, in wrap-up, on outbound calls).

Offshore. Contact center services in which the contact center provider is not located in the same country as customers.

Operator. The person that handles calls in a contact center. Also referred to as an agent, telephone service representative (TSR) or customer service representative (CSR).

Outbound. Type of contact center service in which operators make calls to reach customers.

Outsourcing. Contracting with an outside company to handle some or all contacts with customers.

Predictive Dialer. A device used to automate the method of making outbound calls and directing them to an operator when a live person answers. Predictive dialing screens out other responses such as answering machines, busy signals or operator intercepts and records the results. Using mathematical algorithms, the dialer takes into account the number of available operators, the number of lines, talk time and the probability of call results to determine how many calls need to be made to increase operator productivity. Example applications of predictive dialing include collections and telemarketing.

Schedule. A record that specifies when an employee is supposed be on duty to handle contacts. The complete definition of a schedule is the days of week worked, start time, break times and durations (as well as paid/unpaid status), and stop time.

Script. The written words and logic to be followed in the handling of a contact that will assist the operator in maintaining focus on the content of the contact.

Service Level. Speed of answer goals that are often expressed as the speed of answer to be attained or as some percentage of calls to be answered within some number of seconds (e.g., 80 percent of call-answered within 30 seconds).

SLA (Service Level Agreement). An agreement between service providers and customers that defines, among other things, the services provided, the metrics associated with these services, acceptable and unacceptable service levels, liabilities on the part of the service provider and the customer in case of non-performance, and actions to be taken in specific circumstances.

Site. Physical location where operators and workstations are located to provide contact center services.

Speaking time. Number of minutes actually spoken by operators in a contact center. Revenues for an increasing number of contact center operations are based on this.

Supervisor. Usually, the person who has first-line responsibility for the management of a group of operators. Often has a special telephone or computer terminal for monitoring operators and the system performance.

Trade Marketing Planning, creating, implementing, operationalizing and monitoring all the steps of an action at the point of sale or at a distribution channel.

Traffic Planning. The art and science of designing facilities and resources to meet user requirements

Turnover. The rate that indicates the number of operators that leave the company.

Workforce Management / Allocation. The tasks of forecasting calls, determining staff requirements, creating staff schedules, and tracking performance of operators and of the contact center overall.

Workstation. The set of desk, computer, telephony devices and other devices that are physically necessary for a contact center operation.