Glossary of Terms

Abandoned Call 

An abandoned call is when the caller hangs up before reaching an agent. Also called a ‘Lost Call’. 

Account Code 

An account code is a series of characters used to identify a client or customer. 

Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) 

The telephone system that takes all the calls either coming into (or going out of) a contact centre and directs each call to the right person or team to answer, queuing the calls where necessary. 

The ACD system can handle multiple telephone numbers coming into the contact centre at the same time. The ACD can produce a range of management information reports about call traffic and the agents handling those calls. 

Activity Codes 

Also known as ‘wrap-Up Codes‘, ‘disposition codes’ or ‘call codes’, activity codes are a quick way to summarise important information about an interaction. 

After-Call Work (ACW) 

ACW is the period of time immediately following an inbound transaction. Often this includes entering data, filling out forms and making outbound calls necessary to complete the transaction. The agent is unavailable to receive another inbound call while in this mode. This is also called ‘Wrap-up’, ‘Wrap time’ or ‘Post-Call Processing (PCP)’. 

Adherence or Adherence to Schedule 

A general term that refers to how well agents adhere to their schedules. Can include both: 

  1. How much time they were available to take calls during their shifts, including the time spent handling calls and the time spent waiting for calls to arrive (also called Availability).
  2. When they were available to take calls (also called Compliance or Adherence). See Real-Time Adherence Software and Occupancy. 

Awaiting Further Instructions (AFI) 

This is the status of a customer query in a contact centre where things cannot proceed until further instruction is given. 

For example, a query can be AFI when the customer is yet to give the contact centre agent the go ahead on a potential action. 

Agent or Advisor 

The person who communicates with customers, either inbound or outbound via voice, email, whitemail, webchat, social media and in-app services (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger). 

Agents are also commonly known as front-line colleagues, advisors, customer representatives or customer champions. 

Agent Reports 

Allows agents to view team statistics as well as their own performance metrics. 

Agent Group 

Also called Split, Gate, Queue or Skills Group. A collection of agents that share a common set of skills, such as being able to handle customer complaints. 

Agent Out Call 

An outbound call placed by an agent. 

Agent Occupancy 

Occupancy is the period of logged-in time agents spend on call-related activity, this covers talk time, hold and after call work (ACW). 

Agent Status 

The agent’s status at a particular point in time – e.g. wait, talk, wrap, idle, unavailable. 

Agent Status Codes 

Also known as ‘reason’ or ‘activity’ codes, agent status codes enable agents to signal their availability for calls to the Automatic Call Distributor (ACD). 

All Hands On Deck (AHOD) 

The situation that exists when a contact centre gets super-busy. Customer wait times go up and service levels start to drop. This is often as a result of external activity, such as a marketing campaign, system outage or the weather. 

Typically, during AHOD, training gets cancelled and all team leaders, managers (and on occasions specialist teams), start taking calls. Overtime is offered to help clear the backlog. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

‘’AI refers to machines simulating human intelligence to perform tasks such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision making and translations. 

All Trunks Busy (ATB) 

When all trunks are busy in a specified trunk group. It means that agents aren’t available to take any more calls. 

Generally, reports indicate how many times all trunks were busy and the total time they were busy for. What they don’t reveal is how many callers got busy signals when all trunks were busy. 

Automatic Number Identification (ANI) 

A feature of the telephony network designed to capture a caller’s identifying telephony number. Known in the UK as Calling Line Identity (CLI). 


A recorded verbal message played to callers. 

Answer Supervision 

The signal sent by the Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) to the local or long-distance carrier to accept a call. This is when billing for either the caller or the contact centre will begin if long-distance charges apply. 

Answered Call 

When referring to an agent group, a call counted as answered when it reaches an agent. 

Application-Based Routing and Reporting 

The Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) capability to route and track transactions by type of call or application (e.g. sales, service), versus the traditional method of routing and tracking by trunk group and agent group. 

Application Programming Interface (API) 

A set of routines, protocols and tools for using software applications. 


The basic design of a system. Determines how the components work together, system capacity, upgradability and the ability to integrate with other systems. 

Asynchronous Messaging 

This involves the integration of messaging apps like WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger with automation, so agents can respond to customers in exactly the same way, no matter which app they choose. 

Average Time to Abandon (ATA) 

Average Time to Abandon (ATA) is also known as the Average Patience of the caller.This is the average length of time that a caller will stay in a queue before they abandon (or hang up the call). 

While a significant number of people will stay on the line for very long periods of time, others will simply hang up. Some will redial, but many will not. 


Attrition is the rate at which members of staff leave the workforce over a given period of time. It is also known as ‘staff turnover’, or ‘staff churn’, although in the contact centre industry ‘churn’ tends to refer to the flow of customers rather than staff. 

Auto Attendant (AA) 

An Auto Attendant (AA) is a system that routes calls based on choices selected by the caller from a menu. 

The system prompts callers to respond to choices (e.g. press one for this, two for that!’) and then coordinates with the Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) to send callers to specific destinations. This function can reside in an on-site system or in the network. 

Auto Available 

An Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) feature whereby the ACD is programmed to automatically put agents into Available mode after they finish Talk Time and disconnect a call. If they need to go into After-Call Work, they have to manually put themselves there. 

Auto Dialler 

An Auto Dialler is an outbound contact centre solution that automatically dials customer telephone numbers and can deliver important information through an automated message, or can connect a customer to a live agent once the call has been answered. 

Auto Greeting 

Agent’s pre-recorded greeting that plays automatically when a call arrives. 

Auto Wrap-up 

An Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) feature whereby the ACD is programmed to automatically put agents into After-Call Work after they finish Talk Time and disconnect calls. When they have completed any After-Call Work required, they put themselves back into Available. 

Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) 

A solution to automate some or all parts of a customer call. It allows the caller to interact with your contact centre using their natural language, without the involvement of an agent. 

Speech recognition can be applied to some or even all parts of a call, particularly where the information collected is in a standard form. 

Auxiliary Work State 

An auxiliary work state is one type of ‘unavailable’ state. While an agent is in an auxiliary state, the Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) will not route calls to them. 


How much time agents were available to take calls during their shifts, including time spent waiting for calls to arrive. Also see Adherence to Schedule. 

Available State 

When an agent is signed on to the Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) and waiting for calls to arrive. 

Available Time 

Also known as idle time, available time is time spent by agents ready and waiting to take calls. 

If an agent is logged into the Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) and is not engaged in another task like talking to a customer or in After-Call Wrap (ACW), they are available. 

Average Delay of Delayed Calls 

The average delay of calls that are delayed. It is the total delay for all calls divided by the number of calls that had to wait in a queue. See Average Speed of Answer. 

Average Handling Time (AHT) 

AHT is the amount of time it takes an agent to deal with all aspects of a customer contact – includes Talk Time plus After-Call Work (ACW). Some consider Appropriate Handling Time to be a more effective measure. 

Average Holding Time on Trunks 

The average time inbound transactions occupy the trunks. 

Average Number of Agents 

The average number of agents logged into a group for a specified time period. 

Average Speed of Answer 

Average Speed of Answer (ASA) is a metric calculating the amount of time it takes to answer a typical call once it has been routed to the contact centre. 

Average Talk Time 

Average Talk Time (ATT) is the amount of time an agent spends talking to customers. 

Average Time to Abandonment 

The average time that callers wait in a queue before abandoning. The calculation considers only the calls that abandon. 

Back-Office Optimisation (BOO) 

Being able to shift resources from the contact centre to the back-office during periods of low contact volume. In reverse, BOO also includes shifting resources from the back office to the contact centre during high contact volume peaks. BOO is designed to maximise productivity and efficiency. 

Balanced Scorecard 

A scorecard that shows a range of measures, typically shown through graphs or traffic lights. A balanced scorecard shows how a contact centre is performing. 

Base Staff 

Also called Seated Agents. The minimum number of agents required to achieve service level and response time objectives for a given period of time. 

Seated agent calculations assume that agents will be in their seats for the entire period. Therefore, schedules need to add in extra people to accommodate breaks, absenteeism and other factors that will keep agents from the phones.  

Basic Rate Interface (BRI) 

One of two basic levels of ISDN service. A BRI line provides two bearer channels for voice and data and one channel for signalling (commonly expressed as 2B+D).  

Beep Tone 

An audible notification that a call has arrived (also called ‘Zip Tone’). Beep tone can also refer to the audible notification that a call is being monitored. 

Blended Agents 

Blended agents are trained to handle both incoming and outgoing callsinclude and/or handling more than one contact channel e.g. voice and webchat. 

Blended AI 

This refers to the combination of both human intelligence and Artificial Intelligence to help better the customer experience. 


Callers blocked from entering a queue. 

Blocked Call 

A call that cannot be connected immediately because A) no circuit is available at the time the call arrives, or B) the Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) is programmed to block calls from entering the queue when the queue backs up beyond a defined threshold. 

Business As Usual (BAU) 

BAU stands for the normal execution of standard operations within a contact centre or any other operations environment. 

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) 

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is the delegation of one or more business processes to an external provider that, in turn, administrates and manages the selected processes based on defined and measurable performance metrics. BPO includes functions such as contact centre operations and back-office departments. Also known as outsourcing. 

Business Optimisation 

A systematic process of improving performance by managing and optimising key areas of an organisation that impact prospects, processes, people and profits. 

Busy Hour 

A telephone traffic engineering term, referring to the hour in which a trunk group carries the most traffic during the day. The average busy hour reflects the average over a number of days, such as two weeks. 

Busy Hour has little use for incoming contact centres, which require more specific resource calculation methodologies. 

Call Avoidance 

A proactive strategy to reduce the number of unwanted or low-value calls – for example, failure avoidance by eliminating repeat calls or call automation through self-service. 

Call Back 

The process where a customer can request a call back from a company when it is waiting in a queue. 

Call Barging 

Call Barging is a phone feature that allows you to join in on an existing phone call, usually to assist in answering questions, clearing up information, or closing a sale. In barge mode, both the customer and the agent can hear you, creating a three-way conversation. 

Call Blending 

Call Blending is a technique to mix inbound and outbound calls for specific agents. It helps smooth out the peak demand for inbound call patterns by feeding outbound calls of a similar call type to agents during quiet periods. 

Call Centre 

A call centre is a department or an office in which incoming and outgoing voice calls from new and existing customers are handled by a team of agents. It is also commonly referred to as a contact centre, which is a term used to reflect additional forms of customer contact, for example, email, messaging, webchat or social media. 

Call Centre CRM 

Call Centre Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a technology solution that provides employees with access to customer account information and contact history in an effort to provide a real-time, personalised customer experience across all channels. 

Call Centre Manager 

The call centre manager is the person responsible for the management of the budget, operation and business performance of the call centre. Also referred to as a Contact Centre Manager. 

Call Control Variables 

The set of criteria the Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) uses to process calls. Examples include routing criteria, overflow parameters, recorded announcements and timing thresholds. 

Call Detail Recording 

Data on each call, captured and stored by the Automatic Call Distributor (ACD). Can include trunk used, time in queue, call duration, agent who handled the call, number dialled (for outgoing) and other information. 

Call Forcing 

An Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) feature that automatically delivers calls to agents who are available and ready to take calls. They hear a notification that the call has arrived (e.g. a beep tone), but do not have to press a button to answer the call. 

Call Handling Analysis 

Call handling analysis is an approach to monitor the effectiveness and quality of the handling of calls by the agents. 

Call Volume 

The number of contacts or transactions per second. 

CCaaS (Contact Centre as a Service) 

A comprehensive contact centre solution offered on a subscription basis and made available from the cloud. 

Caller ID 

A feature of the telephony network to capture a caller’s identifying telephony number. More commonly known in the UK as Calling Line Identity (CLI) or by BT as Caller ID. 

Calls In Queue 

A real-time report that refers to the number of calls received by the Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) system, but not yet connected to an agent. 

Calling Line Identity (CLI or CLID) 

The telephone number of the caller travels ahead of most calls. This is known as Calling Line Identity (CLI) or by BT as Caller ID. This is also known as Automatic Number Identification or ANI. 

This number can be used by CTI software to match an inbound contact with a customer record. 

Call Calibration 

Contact centres often run call calibration sessions with their quality analysts and team leaders to ensure that everyone is assessing customer contacts in the same way.By doing so, the contact centre can help to ensure agent performance is being scored fairly, while changing any subjective criteria from the quality scorecard. 

Call Time 

A metric used in contact centres to measure the average time an agent is assisting a customer. 

Call Drivers 

A call driver is the reason that someone had called into the contact centre. Contact centres often measure and analyse their most common call drivers to understand reasons for customer contact, in order to lower call volumes and fix issues. 

Call Riding 

Instead of just transferring a call in a contact centre – to a supervisor, or another advisor, for example – the advisor conferences in the other employee and stays on the call listening to both the other employee and the customer. This is called Call Riding. 

Call riding can be done for valid reasons, such as for training purposes to learn how someone else can handle this type of call, but it can also be used as a way of avoiding having to do any work. 

The Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) stats would show the agent as on a call communicating with the customer, whereas they could be just waiting for their lunch break or checking something on their mobile phone.  It is hard to spot this type of trick. 

Call Recording 

Can involve the recording and storage of calls and data relating to financial or legal transactions. A solution to implement an effective call handling quality process.  

Call Routing 

Call routing is the process whereby incoming calls are routed to certain agents in a process that is based on pre-established criteria. 

Customer Experience Management (CEM) 

Customer Experience Management is the appliance of an over-riding theme, company ethos or approach, irrespective of the means of contact. 

Channel Agnostic 

Provision of a (centralised) process or interaction route, irrespective of the interaction channel. 


Otherwise known as ‘virtual assistants’, chatbots are self-service systems that provide automated responses to customer messages. 

Churn Rate 

Churn rate refers to the percentage of customers who end their relationship with a business within a given period. 

Cloud Contact Centre 

Cloud contact centres are an evolution of the on-site contact centre system to a cloud-based system where the interactions are processed in the cloud, rather than on premise. 


The person who provides additional support and technical knowledge to agents (in addition to the Team Leader). Also known as a buddy. 

Cold Call 

Cold calls are unsolicited calls placed by contact centres to prospective customers, usually with the intention of making a sale or introducing a product. 


Compliance is the ability to adhere to an order or a set of rules. These rules may be internal to the company or external to it, set by a regulatory body. 

Computer Simulation 

A computer technique to predict the outcome of various events in the future, given many variables. When there are many variables, simulation is often the only way to reasonably predict the outcome. 

Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) 

A method of connecting your telephone system to your database. Most commonly this will allow you to pop the caller’s details up on to the agent’s screen when the call connects (Screen Pop). 

Conditional Routing 

Conditional routing allows an Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) to route calls intelligently by factoring in contextual and performance information. 

Contact Centre 

A contact centre handles all forms of communication with customers, from voice calls to email, letters, social media, and instant messaging. A contact centre is also often referred to as a ‘call centre’. 

Contact Centre Agent 

Front office employees that are customer-facing and typically the primary point of human customer contact within an organisation. 

Contact Centre Management 

The way in which organisations manage the daily operations of the contact centre workforce, across multiple touchpoints and channels, in order to accommodate omnichannel customer journeys. 

Container User Interface 

Consolidates telephony and email contacts into one desktop interface for easier management. 

Cost Per Call 

Total costs (fixed and variable) divided by total calls for a given period of time. 

Customer Touchpoints 

Customer touchpoints are the services and resources that bring the public into contact with a brand. 

Customer Service Representative (CSR) 

A person employed in a contact centre focussed on customer service work via any channel from voice to digital. Another name for this is ‘agent’, ‘colleague’ or ‘advisor’. Care should be taken using this term as the same acronym can be used for ‘corporate social responsibility’. 

Customer Engagement 

The ongoing relationship a customer has with an organisation based on relevant, personalised experiences and the anticipation of the customer’s evolving needs. 

Customer Effort Score (CES) 

A measurement focused on service interactions in contact centre environments. It provides a way to measure how customer centric channels and touchpoints are in their design and management, and how they promote ease of use, simplicity and effortless interaction. 

Customer Experience (CX) 

CX is made of individual customer touchpoints. The sum of all experiences a customer has with a company over the lifecycle of their relationship is called a customer journey.  

Customer Experience Platform 

Contact centre infrastructure, available from the cloud or on-premise, that supports the design, orchestration, monitoring, and tuning of customer journeys across voice and digital channels. 

Customer Journey Map 

A customer journey map is a type of infographic intended to communicate important details of the average customer’s relationship with a brand. 

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) 

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a technology solution that provides employees with access to account information, contact history and intelligence. 

Customer Service 

Customer service is the service provided to the customer throughout their interaction with an organisation. 

Database Call Handling 

A computer telephony integration (CTI) application whereby the Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) works in sync with the database computer to process calls, based on information in the database. 

For example, a caller inputs digits into a voice processing system, the database retrieves information on that customer and then issues instructions to the ACD on how to handle the call (e.g. where to route the call, what priority the call should be given in the queue, the announcements to play etc). 

Day of Week Routing 

A network service that routes calls to alternative locations based on the day of the week. There are also options for day of year and time of day routing. 

Decibel (dB) 

A unit to measure the intensity of a sound; a unit to measure the degree of loudness of a sound. 

Direct Dial Inward (DDI) 

A direct inbound number to the switch. 

Directed Dialog 

The simplest type of speech automation that prompts callers for a specific set of answers. 

Delay Announcements 

Recorded announcements that encourage callers to wait for an agent to become available, reminding them to have their account number ready and provide information on access alternatives. In some systems, delay announcements are provided through recorded announcement routes (RANs). 


Also called Queue Time, delay is the time a caller spends in queue waiting for an agent to become available. The average time that a customer has to queue is also known as Average Delay of Delayed Calls. 

Average Delay is the same thing as Average Speed of Answer. 

Delayed Call 

A call which cannot be answered immediately and is placed in queue. 

Dialled Number (DN) 

The number that the caller dialled to initiate the call. 

Dialled Number Identification Service (DNIS) 

A string of digits that the telephone network passes to the Automatic Call Distributor (ACD), Voice Response Unit (VRU) or other device, to indicate which number the caller dialled. 

The ACD can then process and report on that type of call according to user-defined criteria. One trunk group can have many DNIS numbers. 


A dashboard is an at-a-glance report of important statistics relating to contact centre performance. 

Digital Access Signalling System (DASS 2) 

This is a type of digital telephone line that connects between the call centre and the telephone exchange in the UK. 

It is sometimes called ISDN 30 and it allows 30 telephone calls to be carried on one set of lines. 

Dip Check 

When a quality analyst or contact centre leader quickly analyses customer contacts to find one specific type of problem or failure, that process is often known as a ‘dip check’. 

Direct Message (DM) 

A DM is a direct message to one single person. It is therefore a private form of messaging. 

Document Management System (DMS) 

Many call centres handle large amounts of incoming mail, which is opened and scanned by a DMS for electronic distribution as part of a workflow process for managing correspondence. 

Dialled Number Identification Service (DNIS) 

A feature of the telephony network to re-present a caller’s telephony number to the called party. – Known in the UK as DDI. 

Customer Dissatisfaction (DSAT) 

DSAT is the opposite of CSAT in the sense that you measure how dissatisfied your customers are. 

This can be used as a metric or through analysis of where your customer issues are, so you can help to fix their problems. 

Directed Dialog 

The simplest type of speech automation that prompts callers for specific set of answers. 

Dual-Tone Multifrequency (DTMF) 

A signalling system that sends pairs of audio frequencies to represent digits on a telephone keypad. It is often used interchangeably with the term Touchtone (an AT&T trademark). 

Dynamic Answer 

An Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) feature that automatically reconfigures the number of rings before the system answers calls based on real-time queue information. 

Since costs don’t begin until the ACD answers calls, this feature can save callers or the contact centre money when long-distance charges apply. 

Echo Cancellation 

The process of making the channel quiet enough so that the system can hear and recognise Natural Language inputs during the prompt. See also barge-in. 

Erlang B 

Developed by A K Erlang. Used to determine the number of trunks required to handle a known calling load during a one-hour period. 

Erlang C 

Erlang C is a formula that is used to calculate waiting times, based on the number of agents available, the number of callers and the average time it takes to handle a call. 

The formula also forms the basis of the Erlang Calculator. 

Erlang Calculator 

The Erlang Calculator is a tool that allows you to work out how many agents you will need. You just need to enter your call volume and the service level that you would like to achieve. The calculator then looks at the agent capacity you would need to achieve the service level. 


Empathy is the ability for an agent to put themselves into the customer’s shoes. ‘’‘’‘’‘’The difference between empathy and sympathy is that the person who empathises can feel the distress on a personal level, whereas sympathy is less personal. 

Employee Engagement 

The extent to which employees are actively engaged in their work and supporting their customers. It can be a key driver of motivation, retention, performance, customer experience and business success. 

Employee Experience (EX) 

The employee experience is the sum of all experiences an employee has with a company over the lifecycle of their employment. 

Enterprise Data Window 

Brings additional data to the agent desktop such as call history. 

Enterprise Relationship Management (ERM) 

Relates to solutions allowing an enterprise to share ustomer, product, competitor and market information to accomplish goals of meeting long-term customer satisfaction and increased revenues 

End of Service (EOS) 

EOS signals the end of the working day in the contact centre. It is when the contact centre stops taking customer calls, although it may still be open for another half hour to complete calls. 

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) 

The means of determining staffing and occupancy levels for front and back-office staff. 

Escalation Plan 

A plan that specifies actions to be taken when the queue begins to build beyond acceptable levels. 

Failure Demand 

Failure demand is the term used in contact centres when contacts come in regarding a fault of the company within the customer journey. 

In other words, the businesses failure to do something – whether that’s a failure to call back, deliver something on time or something of that nature – has created extra demand of the contact centre. This extra demand is known as failure demand. 

Fast Clear Down 

A caller who hangs up immediately when they hear a delay announcement. 

First Call/Contact Resolution (FCR) 

FCR is a measure of relative success for an individual interaction i.e. was the customers query resolved first time without the need to get back in touch. Usually defined in terms of a single customer or account, a single issue or order and a predefined time range for a response to have taken place. 

Flexible Working 

An approach to working that enables employees to be flexible in their shifts and their work location. 

Flushing Out the Queue 

Changing system thresholds so that calls waiting for an agent group are redirected to another group with a shorter queue or available agents. 

Full Time Equivalent (FTE) 

The equivalent headcount for one person working full time. 

So 1 FTE = Somebody who works Monday – Friday
or 1 FTE = Two people who work half a day 

In terms of the number of hours, one FTE could be either 37.5 hours or 40 hours per week, depending on the number of hours per week worked in that organisation. 


Gamification is a method of turning everyday work or life into a game, to apply the excitement and rewards of gaming to common work tasks. 

Get Out of Wrap 

A term used by team leaders to ask agents to finishing wrapping up the last interaction so that they can take another interaction. 


The inputs that a recogniser can match (identify) from a caller. 

Grade of Service 

The probability that a call will not be connected to a system because all trunks are busy. Grade of service is often expressed as ‘p.01’ meaning 1% of calls will be ‘blocked’. 

Sometimes, grade of service is used interchangeably with service level, but the two terms have different meanings. 


XML format of a syntax for representing grammars, for use in speech recognition so that developers can specify the words and word patterns to be listened by a speech recogniser.  

Graphical User Interface (GUI) 

A program interface that takes advantage of the computer’s graphics capabilities to make the program easier to use.Handled Calls 

The number of calls received and handled by agents or peripheral equipment. Handled calls does not include calls that abandon or receive busy signals. 

Handling Time 

The time an agent spends in Talk Time and After-Call Work handling a transaction. Handling Time can also refer to the time it takes for a machine to process a transaction. 

Help Desk 

A term that generally refers to a contact centre set up to handle queries about product installation, usage or problems. The term is most often used in the context of computer software and hardware support centres. 

Historical Reports 

Reports that track contact centre and agent performance over a period of time. Historical reports are generated by Automatic Call Distributors (ACDs), third-party ACD software packages and peripherals such as Voice Response Units (VRUs) and Call Detail Recording Systems. The amount of history that a system can store varies by system. 

Holding Time 

The average time inbound transactions occupy the trunks. It is: (Talk Time + Delay Time)/Calls Received. AHT is also an acronym for Average Handling Time, which has a different meaning. 

Hot Desk 

The ‘hot desk’ model is a method of managing office resources in which workspaces are not allocated to specific members of staff. 

Rather than be assigned a desk which they use exclusively, staff members can use any available workstation. Workstations can also be booked/reserved in advance. 

Hosted Contact Centre 

A hosted contact centre is a customer experience solution where an organisation’s inbound, outbound and voice-based self-service customer interactions are handled. Customer interactions are hosted on a service provider’s back-office systems, therefore offering lower cost of ownership. 

Hosted Dialler 

A hosted dialler is a contact centre cloud-based technology that enables cross-channel contact strategies in order to maximise the time agents spend on the phone, while accurately predicting agent availability, optimally pacing dialling and filtering out unproductive calls. 

Hybrid Working 

Hybrid working means that employees work both in the office and remotely (usually at home). 

As this type of working becomes more commonplace, acronyms for these types of workers are being created and employees are being named after the days they spend in the office for example: 

  • MTFers (who go to the office on Monday, Tuesday and Friday) 
  • WTFers (who go to the office on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) 
  • MTWers (who go to the office on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday). 

Another common acronym associated with hybrid working is WFH, which means ‘Working from Home’. 

Intelligent Call Router (ICR) 

The brand name for a specific intelligent telecommunications network service that takes real-time information from the Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) in the contact centre, to provide details on queuing and agent availability across a virtual call centre network. 

Incoming Call Centre Management 

The art of having the right number of skilled people and supporting resources in place at the right times to handle an accurately forecast workload, at service level and with quality. 

Incremental Revenue (Value) Analysis 

A methodology that estimates the value (cost and revenue) of adding or subtracting an agent. 

Index Factor 

In forecasting, a proportion used as a multiplier to adjust another number. 

Integrated Browser 

Provides agents with easy access to frequently used sites on the internet or company intranet. Administrator configures accessible URLs. 


The way in which customers engage with your organisation after selecting the communication channel of their choice. Interactions can be self-service orientated and can include navigating an IVR, leaving a voicemail or filling out a web form to send an email. Interactions can also be human or agent oriented to include chat sessions, talking to a live representative or face-to-face video calls. Each interaction point (whether human or self-service) will have a different perceived value and unique organisational cost associated to it. 

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) 

IVR is a computerised telephone system commonly used when a customer rings a call centre. The system lets callers interact with your company through either touchtone or speech recognition. 

The IVR will ask the customer to press a button on their telephone keypad to select which service they want. The technology then routes the call to the most appropriate agent to handle the enquiry. Alternatively, it can ask customers to use their telephone keypad to key information that will help the agent to validate who they are, e.g. account numbers. 

While most systems are only programmed to give callers menus (press one for sales, two for support…) they can also be programmed to interact with a database to provide status information or to give the caller their account balance. 

Intelligent Network Service (INS) 

Facilitates the distribution of calls to multiple destinations across a virtual contact centre network. 

Internal Help Desk 

A group that supports other internal agent groups, e.g. for complex or escalated calls. 

Internal Response Time 

The time it takes an agent group that supports other internal groups (e.g. for complex or escalated tasks) to respond to transactions that do not have to be handled when they arrive (e.g. correspondence or email).  

Internet ‘Call Me’ Transaction 

A transaction that allows a user to request a call-back from the contact centre when exploring a web page. Requires interconnection of the ACD system and the internet by means of an Internet Gateway. 

Internet ‘Call Through’ Transaction 

The ability for callers to click a button on a website and be directly connected to an agent while viewing the site.  

Internet Phone 

Technology that enables users of the internet to place voice telephone calls through the internet, thus by-passing the long-distance network. 

Intra Day Statistics 

Reports that provide details of what is happening in the contact centre at particular times of the day, often broken down into thirty-minute or hourly segments. 


An intranet is a private network based on internet protocols, owned by an institution for the benefit of its members or employees. 

Invisible Queue 

An Invisible Queue is a contact centre queue where the caller is not made aware of how they are progressing. 

Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) 

A digital network providing 64kbit and 2 Mbit bandwidth voice and data circuits. A set of international standards for telephone transmission. 

ISDN provides an end-to-end digital network, out-of-band signalling, and greater bandwidth than older telephone services. 

The two standard levels of ISDN are Basic Rate Interface (BRI) and Primary Rate Interface (PRI). See Basic Rate Interface and Primary Rate Interface. 

Journey Specific 

The experience delivered (whether via self-service or human-assisted) that matches the expectations of the customer and aligns with the different stages of the customer experience lifecycle. 

Judgemental Forecasting 

Goes beyond purely statistical techniques and encompasses what people believe is going to happen. It is in the realm of intuition, interdepartmental committees, market research and executive opinion. 

Key Performance Area (KPA) 

KPAs are the areas for development, which KPIs have alerted us to. 

Key Performance Indicator (KPI) 

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are also referred to as metrics. 

Key performance indicators are measurements of various aspects of how businesses and processes perform. They fulfil two main objectives in the short and long term. 

Key Performance Objective (KPO) 

KPOs are the most important contact centre objectives. They are a contact centre’s targets, while KPIs are the indicators. 

KPO is also an acronym for Knowledge Process Outsourcing. 

Key Stroke Macros 

No coding required for defining agent workflows. Monitors your keystrokes to define a workflow. 

Knowledge Management System 

A desktop application that agents use as a source of information to provide the answers to customer enquiries. 

As the range of enquiries that an agent may have to handle is large, or the responses may change regularly, then the Knowledge Management System acts as a single source of content for the centre to use. 

Local Area Network (LAN) 

A network located in one building that links terminals, PCs and common equipment, e.g. printers, so that computers can share information and applications. 

Law of Diminishing Returns 

The declining marginal improvements in service level that can be attributed to each additional agent, as successive agents are added. 

Legacy systems 

In order for the agent to transact with the customer they may have to use ‘old’ computer systems that the company has had for many years. 

Typically, these systems are not as user friendly as more modern systems as they may require the agent to remember codes, use lots of screens and do not have a logical flow. 

Link Line (UK) 

Non-geographic 0800, 0345, 0370 number charged at various rates, normally directed to a DDI number. 

Lifetime Customer Value (LCV) 

The value of a customer over their lifetime as a customer of an organisation or brand. 

Listening Post 

Any point along a customer journey where the organisation collects customer or employee feedback. 

Local Area Network (LAN) 

The connection of multiple computers within a building, so that they can share information, applications and peripherals. Also see Wide Area Network. 


A record of actions that have occurred. 

Load Balancing 

Balancing traffic between two or more destinations. 

Local Exchange Carrier (LEC) 

Telephone companies responsible for providing local connections and services. 

Logged On 

A state in which agents have signed on to a system (made their presence known) but may or may not be ready to receive calls. 

Long Call 

For staffing calculations and traffic engineering purposes, calls that approach or exceed thirty minutes. 

Longest Waiting Agent 

A method of distributing calls to the agent who has been sitting idle the longest. With a queue, Longest Available Agent becomes next Available Agent. 

Longest Delay (Oldest Call) 

The longest time a caller has waited in queue before abandoning or reaching an agent. 

Look Ahead Queuing 

The ability for a system or network to examine a secondary queue and evaluate the conditions, before overflowing calls from the primary queue. 

Look Back Queuing 

The ability for a system or network to look back to the primary queue after the call has been overflowed to a secondary queue and evaluate the conditions. If the congestion clears, the call can be sent back to the initial queue. 

Lost Calls 

Lost calls are any inbound calls that do not result in the caller being connected to either an advisor or an answering service. 

Macro Metric 

The primary metric used to measure the health of your customer relationships. E.g. Net Promoter Score® 

Marquee Messages 

Allows supervisors to instantly broadcast messages to all agents or groups of agents. 


Software that mediates between different types of hardware and software on a network, so that they can function together. 

Management Information Systems (MIS) 

Reports that enable the Contact Centre Manager to monitor the contact centre’s performance through wallboards, real-time displays, reporting, forecasting and staff allocation. 

Mobile Voice 

Mobile voice is the emerging technology that combines recent advances in mobile and voice recognition. The combination of the two technologies results in users being able to talk to their mobile devices, be understood by the device and accomplish tasks. 

Moment of Truth 

The interactions between customer and company along the customer journey and often situations where a customer can form or change an opinion about a company, product or service offering. Each and every time a customer makes contact with an organisation or its representatives can be a ‘moment of truth’. 


Also called Position Monitoring or Service Observing. The process of listening to agents’ telephone calls for the purpose of maintaining quality. Monitoring can be: 

  1. Silent, where agents don’t know when they are being monitored 
  2. Side by side, where the person monitoring sits next to the agent and observes calls 
  3. Record and review, where calls are recorded and then later played back and assessed. 

Multichannel Cloud Contact Centre 

A multi-channel cloud contact centre is a customer experience (CX) solution that integrates multiple touchpoints – including voice, text, social media and the web – making them accessible via an internet server. A multi-channel cloud contact centre can be accessed from virtually anywhere, eliminating the need for increased physical infrastructure while meeting the evolving demands of today’s customer communication preferences. 

Multilingual Agents 

Agents that are skilled in handling calls in more than one language. 

Multi-Site Networking 

Multi-site networking is the practice of re-routing calls to external locations based on the availability of resources. 


An agent who can handle several different types of call, e.g. sales and service. 

Natural Language Speech Recognition (NLSR) 

An advanced type of speech recognition. NLSR can recognise specific words and phrases, but it can also interpret and assign meaning to them. NLSR can also recognise natural numbers and currency amounts. Because of the greater vocabulary and grammar requirements associated with NLSR, it works best with an external speech recognition or ‘proxy’ server. 

Natural Language Understanding (NLU) 

The ability to understand complex expressions spoken in a more natural, free-style manner. 

Network Control Centre 

Also called a Traffic Control Centre. In a networked contact centre environment, where people and equipment monitor real-time conditions across sites, change routing thresholds as necessary and coordinate events that will impact base staffing levels. 

Network Inter-flow 

A technology used in multi-site contact centre environments to create a more efficient distribution of calls between sites. 

Through integration of sites using network circuits (such as T1 circuits) and Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) software, calls routed to one site may be queued simultaneously for agent groups in remote sites.  

Next Available Agent 

A call distribution method that sends calls to the next agent who becomes available. The method seeks to maintain an equal load across skill groups or services. When there is no queue, Next Available Agent reverts to Longest Waiting Agent. 

Non ACD In Calls 

Inbound calls which are directed to an agent’s extension rather than to a general group. These may be personal calls or calls from customers who dial the agent’s extension number. 

Noise-Cancelling Headset 

Headsets equipped with technology that reduces background noise. 

Net Promoter® Score (NPS) 

Both a loyalty metric and a discipline for using customer feedback to fuel profitable growth in your business. Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a macro metric based on the single question and has been adopted by leading companies worldwide as the standard for measuring and improving customer loyalty. 

Nuisance Call 

A nuisance call is an unwelcome or unwanted call, which bothers the recipient. 


Also referred to as agent utilisation, occupancy is the percentage of time agents are handling calls versus waiting for calls to arrive. For a half-hour, the calculation is: (call volume x average handling time in seconds) / (number of agents x 1800 seconds).  

Offered Calls 

All of the attempts callers make to reach the call centre. There are three possibilities for offered calls: 

  1. They can get busy signals 
  2. They can be answered by the system, but hang up before reaching an agent 
  3. They can be answered by an agent 

Offered call reports in Automatic Call Distributors (ACDs) usually refer only to the calls that the system receives. 


Periods of time other than the contact centre’s busiest periods. Also, a term to describe periods of time when long-distance carriers provide lower rates. 

Omnichannel Cloud Contact Centre 

An omnichannel cloud contact centre is a multi-channel contact centre that delivers seamless customer experiences across all touchpoints, leveraging modern cloud-based infrastructure and services. In a cloud-based contact centre, the company does not actually own, host or operate any equipment that the call centre runs on; rather a third-party service provider hosts the contact centre infrastructure in their own data centre and the company will pay a monthly or annual service fee for hosting the infrastructure. 

Omnichannel Customer Experience 

An omnichannel customer experience is made up of individual customer touchpoints, over a variety of channels that seamlessly connect, allowing customers to pick up where they left off on one channel and continue the experience on another. 

Omnichannel Customer Journey 

An omnichannel customer journey consists of key interactions over multiple touchpoints between customer or prospect and a company during the point of sale and throughout the customer lifecycle. 

Omnichannel Customer Service  

Omnichannel customer service consists of numerous interactions across multiple touchpoints between a customer, or prospective customer, and product or service provider during the time of sale, and throughout the customer lifecycle. 

One and Done 

The ability for the customer transaction to be completed by the agent in a single call. 

This approach helps to improve First Contact Resolution (FCR) rates in contact centres. 

Open Ticket 

A customer contact (transaction) that has not yet been completed or resolved (closed). 


Outbound calls are those made by a contact centre to a third party, usually a customer or partner organisation. 

Outbound Dialling Campaign 

An outbound dialling campaign involves tasking agents to place calls with the intention of making sales, generating leads, marketing a brand or performing research. 

Outbound IVR 

An Outbound IVR is a contact centre solution used to proactively distribute communications to customers. This technology allows an organisation to automatically engage customers through multiple channels such as automated voice calls, SMS messages, email or social media posts using personalised notifications. 


Outsourcing is the delegation of one or more business processes to an external provider that, in turn, administrates and manages the selected processes based on defined and measurable performance metrics. BPO includes functions such as contact centre operations and back-office departments. Also known as Business Process Outsourcing (BPO).


Overflow refers to any inbound voice calls that the contact centre agents are unable to answer. These excess calls may arise due to understaffing, peak period, product/service issues or even an emergency or crisis situation. 

Private Branch Exchange (PBX) 

An office telephone system located in one building that provides voice communications. Users can communicate internally (within the company) and externally (outside the company) using different communication channels like VoIP, ISDN or analog. 

Also known in the UK as a PABX (Private Automatic Branch Exchange). 

Peaked Call Arrival 

A surge of traffic beyond random variation. It is a spike within a short period of time. 

Percent Allocation 

A call routing strategy sometimes used in multi-site contact centre environments. Calls received in the network are allocated across sites based on user-defined percentages.  

Post-Call Processing 

Post-Call Processing is the period of time immediately following an inbound transaction. Often this includes entering data, filling out forms and making outbound calls necessary to complete the transaction. The agent is unavailable to receive another inbound call while in this mode. This is also called ‘Wrap-up’, ‘Wrap time’ or ‘After-Call Work’. 

Predictive Dialler 

Specialist telephony equipment for managing outbound calls. The term predictive means that the dialler will phone the telephone numbers of the customers you want to contact and only when the phone is answered by a person will the call then be directed to an agent to answer. 

An algorithm is used to predict when an agent is likely to become free and dials in anticipation so that the non-productive time is minimised. 

A predictive dialler can also be used in preview mode, where the systems allocates the contact to an agent for them to preview prior to physically dialling the number. 

Private Branch Exchange (PBX) 

A telephone system located at a customer’s site that handles incoming and outgoing calls. Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) software can provide PBXs with ACD functionality. Also called private automatic branch exchange (PABX). 

Private Network 

A network made up of circuits for the exclusive use of an organisation or group of affiliated organisations. 

Can be regional, national or international in scope and are common in large organisations. 

Profit Centre 

A profit centre is a branch or division of a company that directly adds or is expected to add to the entire organisation’s bottom line. 


A message played to a caller that gives the caller a choice of selections in a menu and asks for a response. 

Proxy Server 

A server external to the system used in a client/server configuration to perform processor-intensive functions, such as Natural Language Speech Recognition or text-to-speech. 

Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) 

The public telephone network which provides the capability of interconnecting any home or office with any other. 

Quality Assurance 

Quality Assurance (QA) is a business process that ensures products and services meet an internally agreed standard. 

Quality Framework 

A structured approach to establishing and monitoring the quality of the interactions between agents and customers. 

Quantitative Forecasting 

Using statistical techniques to forecast future events. The major categories of quantitative forecasting include Time Series and Explanatory approaches. 

Time Series techniques use past trends to forecast future events. Explanatory techniques attempt to reveal linkages between two or more variables.  


The ability to prioritise and handle callers when there is no agent available. 

Queue Time 

Queue Time (also called ‘delay’) is the time a caller spends in queue waiting for an agent to become available. The average time that a customer has to queue is also known as Average Delay of Delayed Calls. 

Average Delay is the same thing as Average Speed of Answer. 

Random Call Arrival 

The normal, random variation in how incoming calls arrive.  


Also called display boards or wall displays. A visual display, usually mounted on the wall or ceiling, that provides real-time and historical information on queue conditions, agent status and contact centre performance. 

Real-Time Adherence Software 

Software that tracks how closely agents conform to their schedules.  

Real-Time Data 

Information on current conditions. Some ‘real-time’ information is real time in the strictest sense (e.g. calls in queue and current longest wait). 

Some real-time reports require some history (e.g. the last x calls or x minutes) in order to make a calculation (e.g. service level and average speed of answer). 

Real-Time Management 

Making adjustments to staffing and thresholds in the systems and network in response to current queue conditions. 


The part of the system that compares caller input to a grammar to correctly match (identify) the caller input. 

Response Time When New (RTWN) 

RTWN is a metric that some contact centres use to calculate the average time it takes to respond to a new customer. 

This is measured because some companies aim to offer speedy assistance to new customers, who are more likely to need support in using the product/service. 

However, there are other meanings of RTWN within the contact centre industry. These include: 

  • Real Time Wireless Network 
  • Real Time Work Notification 
  • Return To Work Notification 

Received Calls 

A call detected and seized by a trunk. Received calls will either abandon or be answered by an agent. 


A term popularised by management consultant Michael Hammer, which refers to radically redesigning processes to improve efficiency and service. 

Remote Agents 

A remote agent works from a location other than the traditional contact centre, usually their own home. 

Reports Agent 

Allows agents to view team statistics as well as their own call log. 

Return on Investment (ROI) 

A calculation of the monetary value of an investment versus its cost.

Response Time 

The time it takes the contact centre to respond to transactions that do not have to be handled when they arrive (e.g. correspondence or email).  

Rest Day Overtime (RDOT) 

RDOT refers to the amount of overtime an employee works on a day that was originally scheduled to be a ‘rest day’ or a day off. This term is often used within BPOs. 

Retrial Tables 

Sometimes used to calculate trunks and other system resources required. They assume that some callers will make additional attempts to reach the contact centre if they get a busy signal. 


A caller who ‘retries’ when they get a busy signal. 

Rostered Staff Factor (RSF) 

Alternatively called an Overlay, Shrink Factor or Shrinkage. RSF is a numerical factor that leads to the minimum staff needed (over and above base staff required) to achieve service level and response time objectives. 

RSF is calculated after base staffing is determined and before schedules are organised. It accounts for things like breaks, absenteeism and ongoing training. 

Round Robin Distribution 

A method of distributing calls to agents according to a predetermined list.  

Real-Time Adherence (RTA) 

In contact centres, adherence can be measured in both real-time and historically. RTA is the acronym used to signal when adherence is being measured in real-time. By measuring RTA, contact centres can address issues immediately, in order to have the optimal number of advisors, at any given time. 

Software as a Service (SaaS) 

The (remote) delivery of an item of software or a system by a provider to a subscriber or user base. 

Satellite Contact Centre 

A satellite contact centre is a smaller contact centre at another location.  It’s typically set-up when a company outgrows its main building and needs to expand.  The two contact centres are joined together, so they typically take the same calls, but are physically in two different locations. 

Schedule Compliance 

A term that refers to how well agents adhere to their schedules.  

Scheduling Exception 

When an agent is involved in an activity outside of the normal, planned schedule. 

Screen Monitoring 

A system capability that enables a supervisor or manager to remotely monitor the activity on agents’ computer terminals. 

Screen Pop 

A screen pop is a contact centre term that refers to functionality in which a customer information screen automatically ‘pops’ onto an agent’s computer screen at the same time the agent answers a call from that customer. It’s enabled by computer telephony integration (CTI), which integrates the contact centre solution with other business applications such as a CRM, a ticketing or order entry system. 


A script is a written guide produced for agents to assist them with call handling. 


Self-service provides customers with a way of completing a transaction/having their query answered without having to involve a member of the customer service team. 

Service Level Agreement 

A contractual agreement between a service provider and the organisation specifying specific performance standards to be achieved. 

Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) 

SIP is a signalling system that enables a whole range of applications to be integrated. This includes voice, data, video, pictures and online games. 

It allows the user to be able to switch between one mode and another. A good example would be online gaming through a mobile phone, where while playing you would be able to use a ‘push to talk’ button. 

Skills-Based Routing 

Skill Based Routing ensures that calls are directed to those agents that have the specific skills to handle that call type most effectively. 

Skip Level Meetings 

A skip level meeting is a meeting between agents and managers, where the team leader is not present. This allows managers to have a transparent view of what is happening on the contact centre floor. 

Smooth Call Arrival 

Calls that arrive evenly across a period of time. Virtually non-existent in incoming environments. 

Social Customer Service 

Social customer service is the practice of extending a business’s existing service platform to include social media channels. 

Speech Recognition 

The capability of a voice processing system to decipher spoken words and phrases. 


The term ‘spike‘ refers to a sudden and dramatic increase in inbound contact volume. It’s often understood to be a short-term event, taking place over a few hours, although spikes can continue over longer periods. 

Special Response Team (SRT) 

A SRT is a group of engineers that can be called out for an emergency. However, SRT can also be used as a short-term second line group in a contact centre that deal with special situations (e.g. VIP Escalations, Premium Customers etc.). 

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) 

SOPs are a set of guidelines that contact centres create to deal with common processes and procedures, such as: 

  • How calls are scored for quality 
  • How to deal with complaints 
  • How to schedule staff 

Within WFM, SOPs are created to provide a process to follow when the contact centre experiences a significant peak or trough in contact volumes. 


The person who has front-line responsibility for a group of agents. Typical ratios are one supervisor to every 10-15 agents. However, help desks can have one supervisor for every five people, and some reservations centres have one supervisor for every 30 or 40 agents. Generally, supervisors are equipped with special telephones and computer terminals that enable them to monitor agent activities. Also known as Team Leader or Team Manager. 

T1 Circuit 

A high-speed digital circuit used for voice, data or video, with a bandwidth of 1.544 megabits per second. T1 circuits offer the equivalent of twenty-four (24) analogue voice trunks. 

Talk Time 

The amount of time an agent spends handling a customer call – from start to finish. 


Using telecommunications to work from home or other locations instead of at the organisation’s premises. 

Telephone Service Factor (TSF) 

Known as TSF or GOS (Grade of Service) it is the percentage of calls answered within a specified time frame as designated by the business. 

Telephone Service Representative (TSR) 

A TSR is another name for an ‘Agent’ or ‘Customer Service Representative’ (CSR), with one slight difference. A TSR will only handle telephone calls, while a CSR may also handle emails, chats, letters etc. 

Telephony Applications Programming Interface (TAPI) 

Telephony Application Programming Interface (TAPI) are standard application programming interfaces developed by Microsoft and Intel. They are implemented in Microsoft Windows for connecting a computer to telephone services. TAPI allows Microsoft Windows to detect and set up communication hardware installed on a PC. 

Telephony Services Application Programming Interface (TSAPI) 

Telephony server application programming interface (TSAPI) is a computer telephony integration standard, enabling telephony and computer telephony integration (CTI) application programming.

Top Level Organisation (TLO) 

When a company buys another company, but don’t merge, the buying company is known as the TLO. A TLO is more commonly known as a ‘Parent Company’. 

Toll-Free Service 

Enables callers to reach a contact centre out of the local calling area without incurring charges. 0800 and 800 service is toll-free. In some countries, there are also other variations of toll-free service. For example, with 0345 services in the UK, callers are charged local rates and the contact centre pays for the long-distance charges.  


Each impression a customer has of an organisation (be it advertising, product, email, etc.) can be called a touchpoint. These touchpoints can spurn an interaction with the organisation, which in turn creates a customer experience. 

Traffic Control Centre 

Also called Network Control Centre. In a networked contact centre environment, where people and equipment monitor real-time conditions across sites, change routing thresholds as necessary, and coordinate events that will impact base staffing levels. 

Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) 

The protocols that govern the exchange of sequential data. TCP/IP was designed by the US Department of Defence to link dissimilar computers across many kinds of networks. It has since become a common standard for commercial equipment and applications. 

True Calls Per Hour 

Actual calls an individual or group handled divided by occupancy for that period of time. 


A word to describe the telephone lines coming into a contact centre. The word ‘trunk’ could easily and less confusingly be replaced by the word ‘telephone line’. 


This is one of the most baffling uses of jargon in a contact centre, but effectively means an agent telephone set. This term was commonly used in the 1980s and 1990s but is not so widespread today.  

Text-to-Speech (TTS) 

Text-to-speech (TTS) is an assistive technology that reads digital text aloud. 

Unified Communications (UC) 

Unified Communications (UC) refers to the blending of interaction types. For example, where initial contact was made by voice, the response may be via email, etc. 

(The) UK Do Not Call List 

In the UK, the definition of a ‘Do Not Call’ list comprises 2 key categories: 

  1. Individuals registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) 
  2. Individuals who ask to be removed from a company data list after the first point of contact 

Companies need to respect the wishes of the individuals in both of these categories to avoid being fined. 


An increase in the planned or stated purchase of a customer. 


A single spoken unit that may consist of a word, phrase, sentence or multiple sentences. 

Unavailable Work State 

An agent work state used to identify a mode not associated with handling telephone calls. 

Unified Desktop 

A desktop application which amalgamates other systems or interfaces and accepts both voice and electronic interactions. 

A Unified Desktop may also populate an underlying (CRM) system with interaction or customer data, in real-time. 

Uniform Call Distributor (UCD) 

A simple system that distributes calls to a group of agents and provides some reports. A UCD is not as sophisticated as an Automatic Call Distributor (ACD). 

Universal Agent 

Refers to either: 

  1. An agent who can handle all types of incoming calls 
  2. An agent who can handle both inbound and outbound calls. 


Utilisation ‘’is the percentage of time that an advisor is either assisting or available to assist with customer activity out of the time that they are paid to be in the contact centre. 

Verbatim Feedback 

Verbatim feedback is also known as open feedback and involves capturing customer comments, not scores. 


A voicebot is the same as a chatbot, but it is instead voice-activated. 

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) 

Refers to a host of methods used to encode voice and transmit it over an IP network, such as an internal ethernet or over the internet. 

Voice Processing 

A blanket term that refers to any combination of voice-processing technologies, including Voice Mail, Automated Attendant, Audiotex, Voice Response Unit (VRU) and Faxback. 

Voice Response Unit (VRU) 

Also called Interactive Voice Response Unit (IVR) or Audio Response Unit (ARU). 

A VRU responds to caller-entered digits or speech recognition in much the same way that a conventional computer responds to keystrokes or clicks of a mouse. 

When the VRU is integrated with database computers, callers can interact with databases to check current information (e.g. account balances) and complete transactions (e.g. make transfers between accounts).  

Virtual Contact Centre 

A virtual contact centre is where the organisation’s representatives are geographically dispersed, rather than situated at workstations in one location. Virtual contact centre employees may be located in groups in remote offices or working from home. 


Virtualisation is the creation of a virtual (rather than actual) version of something. Virtualisation uses software to create an abstraction layer over computer hardware that allows the hardware elements of a single computer (i.e. processors, memory, storage) to be divided into multiple virtual computers. 

Visible Queue 

When callers know how long the queue that they just entered is, and how fast it is moving (e.g. they hear a system announcement that relays the expected wait time).  

Work at Home (WAH / WFH / W@H) 

WAH is code for an employee that works at home rather than in the contact centre building. These employees are commonly known as ‘Remote Agents’. 


Electronic displays within the physical location of a contact centre, used to give the management and agents a view of their own team’s performance. 

Wallboards can be used to display key performance criteria such as service level or calls queuing in real-time. 

There is a lot of debate in the industry about whether wallboards are good or bad for agent morale. 

Wide Area Network (WAN) 

An intra-office data network used to connect terminals, computers and equipment across multiple sites. 

Workforce Management (WFM) 

WFM is the means of determining and providing schedules, forecasting and adherence for a workforce, against historical interaction volumes and known future events. 

Workforce Optimisation (WFO) 

The means of applying schedules and forecasts based on previous and known future interaction and workflow volumes and optimising workforce effectiveness through the use of monitoring quality, better understanding the interactions, and identifying learning and development opportunities for frontline agents 

Workforce Planning 

Workforce planning is using data to forecast call demand and to ensure sufficient agents are working to meet the predicted demand. It includes scheduling of training and other shrinkage time. 

Wrap-Up Time (or Wrap Time) 

Wrap-Up Time, or Wrap Time, is the time spent by an agent doing After-Call Work (ACW) once they have concluded an interaction. 

Wrap-Up Codes 

Also known as ‘disposition codes’ or ‘call codes’, wrap-up codes are a quick way to summarise important information about an interaction. 

Zero Tolerance Policy (ZTP) 

ZTP is a ban of a certain behaviour or possession that an organisation deems to be unacceptable. 

It can also be thought of as a code of conduct – which, if an employee doesn’t follow, will lead to some sort of repercussion. 

Zip Tone 

A zip tone is an alert tone used to make agents aware of the Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) system in a contact centre. It is a short tone, sent in a line to the mediators to indicate that a call is coming and it is required to be monitored.