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Call Centre Jargon Explained

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Call centres are littered with buzzwords, jargon, and abbreviations. We explain here all of the common buzzwords that will be found as soon as people start talking about call centres.

It can be very confusing to the novice, so below we outline a glossary of all the call centre buzz words. We have also built a definition of what they really mean in normal words. For example, you could look up DPNSS and see the answer Digital Private Network Signalling System and be none the wiser. These terms have been put into normal language.

Automatic Call Distributor (ACD)

The type of telephone system used in most call centres. It is used to queue callers and distribute the calls to agents. It usually includes the ability to generate statistics. Manufacturers include Aspect, Avaya (used to be called Lucent), Cisco, Nortel and Rockwell. It may be a dedicated telephone system or part of an office telephone system.

Average Speed of Answer (ASA)

The average time (typically in seconds) for calls to be answered in the call centre. This needs to be treated carefully since it deals with the arithmetic mean. For example, if nine calls were answered immediately and at a very busy period one call waited for 10 minutes to be answered - it would treat the average speed of answer at one minute - even though 90% of calls were answered immediately.

Balanced Scorecard

A scorecard that shows a range of measures - typically based around graphs or traffic lights - that shows on a single sheet of paper how a call centre is performing.

Calling Line Identity (CLI or CLID)

These days, the telephone number of the caller travels ahead of most calls. This is known as Calling Line Identity (CLI) or as Caller ID. You will probably most often see this when someone calls your mobile phone.

CSR (Customer Service Representative)

A person employed in a call centre to answer the phone. Another name for this is Agent or Advisor.

(Corporate Social Responsibility)

This term is widespread in business and means "the ethics of a company" e.g. do they pollute the environment etc.

Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)

A method of connecting your telephone system to your database. Most commonly this will allow you to pop your callers details up on to the agent's screen when the call connects (Screen Pop). CTI can be used for a variety of applications such as call routing. Despite huge business advantages it often requires quite complex integration and its deployment has been limited.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

A widely abused term that is about developing better relationships with customers. It has widely been high jacked by suppliers to mean a customer database, most frequently one that combines all customer data onto one database, giving a single view of the customer.