The Call Center Glossary- by the techies for the techies

The Call Center Glossary

Greg Levin


abandonment: The feeling a call center manager experiences just after talking to senior management about a budget increase.

adherence to schedule: A call center metric that measures agents’ affinity for invisibility.

agent (a.k.a. rep, CSR, associate, the artist formerly known as operator): A person – usually – who handles a variety of customer transactions via a variety of contact channels while dreaming of a variety of jobs that pay better, such as pamphleteer or migrant farm worker.

average handle time (AHT): A crucial metric embraced by the world’s leading call centers… in 1986.

best practice: Two words that raise call center research report prices to four figures.      

call center: A big place with bad lighting and cramped cubicles where people wear headsets to keep their skulls intact.

call centre:  Same as above, only located in a region where people drive on the wrong side of the road or play ice hockey in the summer.

contact center: What I used to call a call center before search engine optimization ruined everything.

customer satisfaction: What many callers sense after screaming a stream of obscenities as they are about to cancel their account with your company.  

e-learning: A way to train agents without having to unlock their cages.

first-call resolution (FCR): The absolute most important metric that a call center is unable to measure.

forecast: Gloomy.

home agent: A customer care professional who has forgotten how to drive and put on pants. (See also “telecommuting”.)

IVR: An electronic prison where companies house their least valuable customers.

occupancy: The percentage of time call center agents spend handling calls versus surfing

offshore outsourcing: A strategy deployed by U.S. call center executives who want their vacations to Asia to be tax-deductible.

quality monitoring: A practice whereby a call center spies on its agents to officially confirm that the center’s recruiting and training programs blow.

queue: The line that forms outside a call center’s bathroom after cold pepperoni pizza has been served as the overtime snack for the third straight day.

screen pop: A martial arts move used on slow computers by impatient agents. 

self-service: A customer care approach adopted by call centers that can’t find anybody who wants to work for them.

skills-based routing: A tool commonly used to torture workforce management teams.

speech analytics: An expensive software solution used to confirm that customers hate your company as much as agents say.

social media: A cruel trick played on call center professionals who were just starting to get a handle on email and chat.

supervisor: An agent who has shed his or her headset though not his or her craving for customer abuse. 

telecommuting: An innovative staffing solution based on the belief that agents perform at optimum levels in their underwear. (See also “home agent”.)

Voice of the Customer (VOC):  The sound that your agents hear in their sleep regardless of the amount of therapy or medication they try.

web chat: A call center channel through which agents can efficiently demonstrate illiteracy to up to four or five customers at once.

workforce management: A complex science involving the use of highly sophisticated technology and mathematical formulas to misjudge the number of agents you need to schedule.

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