Inbound Call Center Glossary of Terms

Quality Contact Solutions (QCS) provides inbound call center solutions that achieve sales & service results. QCS specializes in inbound sales and service campaigns on both the B2B and B2C circuits. QCS wanted to provide an Inbound Glossary of Terms so that anyone can learn to speak the language of Inbound Call Center Operations.

Inbound Glossary of Terms

24x7x365 – When your operators are available to take calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Abandoned Call – A phone call that has been received by a call center switch however is terminated prior to a conversation beginning.

Abandon Rate – The total number of calls where a customer disconnects the call before a representative answers the call.

After Call Work Time (ACW) – Tracks the average time taken by representatives to perform follow-up activities after a call. Activities include noting a customer file or account, processing a sale, researching customer information, sending an escalation.

Agent Utilization – The comparison of the agents in-call and/or after-call work time to their total logged time.

Answer Rate – The number of calls answered compared to the number of calls offered.

ACD – Automatic Call Distributor is a system used to handle incoming calls.

Automatic Number Identification (ANI) – Billing Telephone Number or Account Number associated with a telephone number, trunk or trunk group. In most cases this will match the Caller ID that is presented by the calling party.

Average Call Transfer Rate – The number of calls transferred divided by number of calls handled. This tracks the number of calls that the agent could not complete on their own. Reasons for transfers may be an escalated call, transferring to another department, confirming a sale with a third-party vendor.

Average Handle Time (AHT) – The sum of the call which includes Average Talk Time (ATT) + After Call Work (ACW) and Hold Time divided by the total number of calls.

Average Speed of Answer (ASA) – The total time spent by your customers in call queues, divided by the number of calls handled. This can include calls handled by a live representative or handled in a self-service IVR.

Average Talk Time (ATT) – The amount of time the representative is speaking with the customer. This does not include ACW and Hold Time.

Average Time to Abandon – The average time a caller waits before they hang up.

Bilingual – The ability to speak two languages fluently.

Blended – The definition of blended means using outbound agents to receive inbound calls or using inbound agents to make outbound calls. Combining inbound calls with outbound calls makes more efficient use of the call center agent.

Business to Business (B2B) – This simply means when a business is reaching out to the inbound contact center for sales or service.

Business to Consumer (B2C) – This simply means when a consumer is reaching out to do business or to purchase or receive a service from a business.

Caller ID – This is the telephone number that displays on the call center representatives phone device before the phone is answered. There are many benefits in outsourced telemarketing to using a Local Caller ID. A Local Caller ID is a Telephone Number used as the Caller ID that matches the area code of the Called party’s number. There are also many best practices for the use of Caller ID and Ensuring Compliance with Regulations.

Call Disposition – The indicators that are assigned by representatives to each call during the completion of the call. Typically, Dispositions are the call type, or reason for call. Dispositions are used to identify and analyze trends in call types.

Call Duration – The average length of time your representatives are on call with a customer.

Calls Offered – The total number of available calls that can be answered.

Call Metering – Limiting the number of callers that can connect to the call center at one time. Often used when volume is much higher than expected.

Customer – A person or business that buys goods or services from a store or business.

CRM – This is a Customer Relations Management System and is a software designed to manage a company’s interactions with current or potential customers. These interactions provide a 360-degree view of the customer and allow teams to focus on retention as well as sales growth.

Customer Call Frequency (CCF) – The measurement that tracks the frequency of repeated calls from the same customer.

Dashboard – A screen display of Key Performance Indicators, provided to the viewer in real-time. These dashboards allow the viewer to make informed decisions to improve KPIs and/or staffing.

Data – This is the detailed information that encompasses the information on the leads. This can include name, phone number, address, email address, and many other possible data points.
Erlang – A unit of measure used in telecommunications to denote the optimal traffic capacity or load in a given service element, such as a circuit or a switch. Expressed in terms of time, assuming no call blockage due to uneven arrival patterns, a capacity of one Erlang equates to 60 minutes of traffic per hour

FAQs – Stands for Frequently Asked Questions.

First Call Resolution (FCR) – This measures the frequency of instances where a customer’s issue was resolved in the first call itself. FCR is used in many instances to identify trends that customers could use an IVR Self-Service option for resolution.

Handle Time – The total of Hold, Talk and After Call time.

Inbound – This relates to calls that originate with the customer calling in to the agents. Learn reasons to blend inbound and outbound telemarketing services.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) – The technology in telecom industry which allows customers to interact with a company’s host system through voice recognition or by using DTMF tones as an input through keypad. There is also true Voice Recognition when the computer can listen to a customer’s voice and use that instead of inputting digits.

Interflow – Calls that are re-routed to another call center when the an ACD group cannot handle the excessive amount of calls.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – These are the most important metrics that determine the success of a particular program. Read about how continuous improvement for telemarketing programs is golden.

Longest Available Agent – This is an agent that has been waiting for a call longer than anyone else receiving calls. They will typically be the first person to receive the next incoming call.

Members – As opposed to “customers”, many organizations and particularly associations have members. Members receive other benefits that go beyond the typical customer transaction and membership in ways signifies a unity with that organization. Learn why conducting telemarketing services for associations is worthwhile work!

Monitoring – This is the act of listening to an outbound marketing agent’s telephone calls to determine if they are conducting the calls in a manner that is effective and in accordance to the guidelines that they have been provided. This is typically conducted by a Supervisor or Quality Assurance analyst whose job it is to listen and score calls while providing feedback for improvement. The term is also frequently used as a noun. To hold a monitoring means having a listening session with multiple parties to discuss how the calls are going and what things need to be adjusted to ensure success. Learn the Do’s and Don’ts of Quality Monitoring.

Occupancy – The percentage of time that an agent is logged in that they are participating in active call handling duties (Talking on calls plus wrap time divided by logged in time).

Off-Peak – The time of day when the call center is not at its busiest time.

Omnichannel – Is a cross-channel content strategy that allows for the communication with customers across multiple platforms. Some of these platforms include phone, email, text and chat.

Outbound – When a caller dials out to a person, vs. receiving an incoming call. Possible Outbound calls on inbound are follow up calls, confirmation calls or blended outbound/inbound programs. Read here to learn how to fix your outbound marketing program.

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS) – Set of standards created by the PCI Security Standard Council founded in 2006 by American Express, Discover, JCB International, MasterCard and Visa Inc. These standards are required for all entities that store, process or transmit cardholder data. They cover all aspects including security policies, technologies and ongoing processes that protect payment systems from breaches and theft of cardholder data.

PII – PII is any information about an individual that could potentially identify a specific individual. Examples of this may include name, social security number, phone, date of birth, and mother’s maiden name.

Quality Assurance – This is the staff/department and practice of listening to calls with the goal to identify what strategies are working and what is not. Learn more about using the right tool to increase the quality of your outbound marketing calls.

Renewal – This is a type of sale from an existing customer or member. Many times relates to subscription-based products or services.

Script – This is both the actual words and also logic that is to be followed by an agent when talking to a customer to help guide them through the call.

Script Adherence – This is the practice of an inbound representative delivering their presentation exactly how the script is written for them. Inbound programs are different, some require agents to follow a script verbatim, and for others it is a guide and the agents are encouraged to make the messaging their own.

Service Level (SL) – The percentage of calls answered within a specified number of seconds, for example you may see 80/30 which means 80% of calls answered in 30 seconds or less.

Shrinkage – The percent of time for which representatives are paid to work that they are not available to take calls. It’s extremely important to calculate this number accurately in order to get the schedule requirement right.

Short Abandons – Calls that have entered the system however the customer disconnects prior to a set number of seconds that you define.

Skill Based Routing – The process of routing calls to only specific agents who have been trained in how to handle the issue at hand.

Talk Time – The amount of time from the greeting to the point that the call is disconnected.

Talking Tracks – Are checklists that are designed to help you during a meeting or call with a customer. Think of these as decision trees to the next point of conversation.

TCPA – The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was enacted in 1991 to reduce the number of unwanted telemarketing communications customers received, as they were thought to be an invasion of consumer privacy.

The law restricts making calls or sending text messages using automatic telephone dialing systems (ATDS) and artificial or prerecorded voice messages, often referred to as robocalls, except with the prior express consent of the called party or for emergency purposes (or other applicable exemptions). 

Training – This is the education of the inbound staff on how to properly conduct calls for a given program.

Unavailable Time – Time an agent isn’t available to take incoming calls. Typically, this is during breaks, lunches and coaching time.

Unsupervised Call Transfer – This is a call that is transferred without notifying the desired party of the impending call. It is simply transferred to the recipient unannounced via a transfer key on the operator’s phone.

Virtual Call Center – This is a call center that does not have a traditional brick and mortar building in which callers are doing business. Instead, the call center consists of virtual agents working from their home and this continues to be a growing trend in the industry. Learn some tips for motivating a virtual workforce.

Warm Transfer – This is a transfer in which the operator places a customer on hold, dials the number they are transferring to and speaks to the person who is receiving the transfer call prior to bringing the customer back on the line. It is warm because the recipient of the transfer has been made aware of the customer and any pertinent information prior to meeting the transferred party.

Wait Time – Refers to the time that a person is waiting before answering their next incoming call.

Workforce Management – A contact center team that uses historical information, future forecasts, contact channel volumes, interaction durations and schedules to determine an optimal staffing for a given time period.

Workforce Management System – An automated system that is responsible for creating staff schedules, determining staff requirements, forecasting calls and tracking performance.

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