The Ultimate Glossary for Contact Center Terms

Sep 4, 2020 10:40:22 AM

Like all industries, the contact center space has an endless array of industry-specific terms and acronyms. To help ensure our jargon makes sense to even those outside the field, we have created a glossary chock full of the most widely-used industry terms. Now you can be an expert too!


An Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) is the telephony solution that answers incoming calls and distributes them to agents.


After-Call-Work (ACW)  is the average amount of time it takes an agent to do wrap-up work after a call is completed. Average Handle Time (AHT) is the combination of both ATT (see definition below) and ACW.


The metric tracking an agent’s work time and whether the agent has adhered to scheduled log in and log out times,lunch, breaks and other related work duties. By managing adherence, contact centers can efficiently manage staffing and workloads, which will help ensure the proper amount of agents are available to answer calls.

Agent Occupancy

The percentage of time an agent spends interacting with callers and wrap-up work versus  time spent between calls.


A key performance indicator, Average Handle Time (AHT) measures the average length of an interaction, including hold time, talk time and may or may not include after-call work time.


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a wide-ranging branch of computer science that aims to replicate or simulate human intelligence in machines. The goal of AI is to build computer systems capable of mimicking human tasks that require intelligence. AI requires free cognitive thought (i.e., a human brain). 


API stands for Application Programming Interface and is a set of functions that allow for the creation of applications. 


Average Speed of Answer (ASA) is the average time it takes for a customer to be connected with an agent.


Average-Talk-Time (ATT) is the average amount of time an agent talks to a customer. ATT is also assessed per queue, measuring the average talk time for all calls to each queue.

Auto Dialer

A device or software that automatically dials telephone numbers from a predefined calling list, and when a call is answered, the device/software connects that customer with a live agent.


Auxiliary (AUX) is the amount of time an agent is unavailable to take calls or contacts. 


Average Wait Time (AWT), which can be known as Average Speed of Answer (ASA), is the average time an inbound caller spends in a queue.

Blended Call/Contact Center

A call/contact center that has the capability to interact with customers via a variety of mediums, including inbound and outbound calls, emails, instant chatting, text messages, and/or social media. 


Short for robot, a bot is a software application that runs automated tasks . Typically, bots perform tasks that are simple and repetitive, and free up an agent’s time to focus on more complex customer interactions. For example, on a web site a chatbot may be able provide links to exactly what the customer needs.

Brand Loyalty

How a customer feels about a brand, which impacts a customer’s likelihood of churning. 

Call Guide

A guide or template that gives agents all the information they need as to how to conduct the ideal phone call with a customer, including questions to ask and key product information to be aware of. 

Call Handling Analysis

A way  to measure the quality of handling of calls by the agents.

Call Recording

A technology that enables call centers to capture and record customer and agent phone interactions. Callers must be alerted prior to the recording of calls. When integrated with a quality management system, supervisors can annotate recorded calls to help agents identify ways to improve his/her abilities, and to assist in quality control.

Call Routing

The process of routing calls to agents based on training, skills, and knowledge to assist a customer in order to help create the most positive customer experiences. Call routing may also identify high-value callers and route them to a shorter queue or to the most proficient agents.

Caller ID

The telephony feature that identifies the area code, phone number, and location of the customers making inbound calls.


Call Center as a Service, or CCaaS, is contact center software that is typically hosted or built in the cloud instead of hosted on-premises. 


Short for Call Detail Recording, CDR is the capture of data regarding incoming and outgoing telecommunication interactions. The recorded data may include things such as Caller ID, time of call, duration, completion status, etc.

Chat Messages

A way for agents and supervisors or experts to communicate while agents are engaging with a customer. Can enable real-time coaching, possibly reduce hold times, and allow managers to help agents create the best possible customer experience. Allows agents and supervisors to communicate via text messaging during a contact. 


When information, applications, services, etc., is available on demand via the Internet from a cloud computing provider’s servers versus being on local servers or personal computers. Often confused with cloud-native (see below).


Cloud-native architecture refers specifically to application development grounded in containers, microservices, and managed on an elastic infrastructure.


Feedback targeted at helping agents improve skills and create exceptional customer experiences. Some platforms are designed with this need in mind and automatically offer feedback and support agents with coaching and training recommendations. 


A channel is the medium a contact center uses to interact with a customer and visa versa. For example, phone calls are one type of channel, social media is another, SMS text messaging another, and so on.


Co-browsing gives contact center agents the ability to view a customer’s browser. This typically gives agents the ability to more quickly and easily resolve the customer’s issue.


This is when an agent, and/or the contact center as an entity, must adhere to a set of rules and/or regulations. These rules may be internal or set by a regulatory body.

Contact Center

A centralized solution where customer service agents work and deliver customer service. Historically the agents worked on-site and interacted with customers primarily  via the phone, but thanks to cloud-based technology, agents can work anywhere and customer service occurs across many channels, including the phone, web, SMS text, and more.


A business strategy during which the customer’s needs and experience are prioritized. 

CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service)

A CPaaS is a cloud-based platform that enables developers to add real-time communications features to their own applications without needing to build backend infrastructure and interfaces.


Customer Relationship Management, CRM, is the strategy a brand uses to manage and analyze the interactions it has with customers, including past, present, and future customers, in order to create the most successful business possible. It is a broad term that takes into account people, processes, and technology that relate to customer acquisition, retention, customer records and the CX overall. 


CTI, or Computer Telephony Integration, enables contact center solutions to access information from other systems..

Customer Experience (CX)

CX is the culmination of a brand interaction and spans the full agent-customer interaction from start to finish. The CX is greatly enhanced by the tools, technology, and support provided to agents. 

Customer Journey

The totality of a customer’s interaction with a brand – what that customer does at each stage -- before, during, and after they buy from a brand. The ultimate positive customer journey will result in happy and loyal brand advocates. The customer journey is much more complex than it used to be and brands need to get a holistic understanding of customers’ journeys, accessing real-time and unified insights about customers, and engaging with them at the right time and right place. 

Customer Journey Mapping

Journey mapping is a visual representation of each and every experience your customers have with your business and your brand, from the first exposure to sale, to post-sale interactions and beyond.

Customer Satisfaction Score

The average score of customers based on how they feel about a brand. Often abbreviated as CSAT. Used as insight to help customer service teams make improvements.

Do Not Call List

A database of phone numbers that telemarketers are not allowed to call.

Edify Labs

A company that is reinventing the customer and employee experience by solving old communication and collaboration challenges in bold new ways.

Edify Huddle

The first cloud-native platform designed and built to put unified communications (UCaaS) and all contact center channels inside a single pane of glass. 

Employee Experience (EX)

A positive EX leads to happy, engaged, and motivated employees and agents, which  leads to happier customers. A strong EX includes consistent training, coaching, and feedback that empowers agents to improve, grow, and develop in their careers and as service professionals.


FCR stands for First Call (or Contact) Resolution, which means a customer support query is successfully resolved during the  first attempt.


The practice of predicting workload (or the number of  customer queries) so a contact center can have the appropriate number of agents staffed.


Full Time Equivalent (FTE) represents a full-time employee, typically staffed at 40 hours per work week. Two agents who each work 20 hours per week would comprise one FTE.


The application of typical game-play elements (point scoring, competition with other players, etc.) to another discipline, like a training program. Used in the contact center, it’s a way to make learning fun and engaging, to bolster productivity, and encourage agents to help meet targets for metrics.


Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs) are automated, self-service applications (i.e., bots) that can help customers with simple needs, freeing up live agents’ time to manage bigger, more complex issues.


IVR, or Interactive Voice Response, allows  a customer to interact with a business via a series of automated menus, most commonly by using the phone’s dial pad to answer yes, no, etc. It is a simple and effective way to enable self-service capabilities to customers.


A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a metric used to measure performance. Contact Centers identify relevant KPIs and then routinely assess these KPIs to ensure they are on target to meet their goals.

Live Monitoring

The use of software and technology as part of the quality assurance program so contact center managers can  oversee an agent’s interaction with a customer in real-time and quickly identify an at-risk customer, and proactively work to resolve an issue and help retain that customer. Also allows for managers to provide real-time feedback and guidance to agents.


Similar to the way that automation revolutionized manufacturing, Machine Learning (ML) is the missing link that is revolutionizing customer service. This technology is changing the game when it comes to exceptional customer service and experiences. It is often used interchangeably with AI, but shouldn't be.

This technology informs your workforce and supporting technologies (like your bots) by processing large amounts of data, recognizing patterns, and adjusting the response.


A metric is the status of a specific measure, such as Average Speed of Answer. While all  KPIs are metrics, not all metrics are KPIs. 


The ability to interact with customers across a variety of channels (i.e., phone, text, etc.), but these channels are siloed from each other and require agents to switch between applications and/or windows.


When a company uses cloud-based services from more than one cloud provider.


Natural Language Processing, NLP,  is a subfield of linguistics, computer science, information engineering, and AI that centers around the interactions between computers and human languages. Simply put, NLP is what happens when computers read language. 


NPS, short for Net Promoter Score, is the gold standard metric for measuring customer experience and identifying customer loyalty. It is based on the question, “How likely are you to recommend X company/product to a friend?”

Occupancy Rate

The metric representing the percentage of time an agent spends on handling incoming contacts and/or managing customer queries while at work. Sometimes referred to as utilization rate.


The ability to effortlessly move between communications channels in a single interaction. An example of an omnichannel interaction is to begin with a web chat, transition to a call, then switch to a video call with the push of a button and without interrupting the conversation.

Outbound Dialer

Technology used in contact centers to make outgoing calls and then connect an agent with an answered call. 


The business practice of hiring an external customer service organization to staff and manage your customer service needs.

Proactive Customer Care

Proactively notifying a customer with information he or she wants or needs. Examples include appointment reminders and order status updates.

Quality Assurance

Activities put in place by a company or organization to ensure required quality levels of agents’ interactions with customers are achieved.

Quality Management

The act of ensuring that a relevant subset of customer and agent interactions are monitored and evaluated to ensure that performance metrics are met and customers receive great service.

Quality Monitoring

The process of evaluating  calls and interactions with a customer to confirm whether they meet the contact center’s standards. 

Recorded Call Analysis

Reviewing calls to identify key characteristics of good and bad performance.

Remote Agent

An agent who works outside of the physical boundaries of the contact center.


Short for Robotic Process Automation, RPA is a software bot that automates basic, repetitive customer service activities. 

Schedule Adherence

See adherence.

Scheduled Callback

During long wait times, customers can opt to hang up, hold their place in the queue, and automatically receive a callback when an agent becomes available.

Screen Pop

A window or dialog box with key customer information that automatically “pops” up on an agent’s screen as a call or contact arrives at the agent desktop.

Screen Recording

The act of capturing an agent’s screen during an interaction with a customer. Screen Recording brings a visual component to training and coaching to help supervisors work with agents to identify ways to improve. Screen recording in conjunction with voice recording are important components of quality management.


The process of separating customers into groups based on shared qualities and characteristics in order to direct them  to agents that are best qualified to manage specific issues.


The ability for customers to manage their own service needs by utilizing bots and/or keypad prompts to receive information.

Service Level

The percentage of incoming calls or contacts that agents answer within a user-specified time period. For example, a company may specify a target service level of 80% of contacts answered in 30 seconds for a high-priority customer queue.

Skills-based Routing

When a contact center directs customers to specific agents based on their skill set and capabilities instead of routing a customer to the next available agent.

Speech Analytics

Technology used to record and analyze conversations between agents and customers and used to identify areas for improvement for agents. It can also be used to help identify what needs to be done to resolve a customer’s issue. Speech analytics essentially enable contact center managers to “listen” to all calls by searching for keywords and phrases, and filtering out the calls that meet (or miss) that criteria. 


A metric set by contact center managers as a point at which a notification should be issued. For example, a threshold could be set for the number of calls in queue; when that number is reached, visual and/or audible notifications are given. 


Short for Unified Communications as a Service, UCaaS is the ability to unify your entire global workforce across  a single communications solution that provides voice, chat, and video.


Workforce Management (WFM) is a way for contact centers to properly allocate resources and agents to ensure that customer needs are being met and consistent customer service is always being provided. WFM solutions enable managers to create schedules, and then track agent adherence to their schedules.


Workforce Optimization (WFO) is a practice used in call centers to properly train, schedule, monitor, coach, evaluate, reward, and engage agents in order to ensure customer satisfaction levels remain high. An essential component of WFO is a WFM solution.


Defined treatment path for customer contacts. For example, a chat or a call might first be given self-service options, then put into a queue to be routed to the best available agent if assisted service is needed.  

Wrap-up Codes

Agents select from a series of codes (often via a drop-down menu) to summarize an interaction with a customer, or the reason for the customer inquiry. Examples include the outcome of the interaction, a customer’s satisfaction level, type of service request, etc.

Liz Cahill

Written by Liz Cahill

Recognized as one of PR Week's “Ten Rising Stars” in 2005, Liz Cahill has been working in the public relations industry for more than two decades with a focus on technology and lifestyle. During this time, Cahill has partnered with clients big and small, working on strategy development, message creation, media outreach, social media programming, event planning, ghostwriting, and pretty much anything else her clients throw at her. Originally a “Jersey girl,” Cahill has lived in Boston, New York City, and Los Angeles. She currently resides outside of LA with her husband, daughter and twin sons.