Call Center Services

Call Center Services

Customer Service Call Center Solutions Industry Lingo

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You receive a report at the end of the day regarding call center metrics; you glance at it and then look to the sale board to find out how much money was made. If the amount of money made seems high enough to you, the report gets filed away.

This is a big mistake.

While you may be pleased with the number of sales, have you taken all the expenses into consideration? Do you know what the bottom line is? Reading that report will put things into the proper perspective and enable you to make sure you are not wasting money or resources.

There are many things to look at when reading those reports. Here are details on what to look at and how to think about it, as well as frequently used call center terms that can make understanding those reports easier.

Call volume

Call volume is going to be the most important number you look at. You need to know how many calls were taken or received. Everything to do with a call center has to do with the call volume. The more calls, the more money you have the potential of making. Even if you are running a customer service operation, the more calls, the more issues are resolved, the more repeat customers you will have. You need to keep this number high.

Average handle time

In an effort to take more calls, each call must be handled as quickly as possible without lowering the quality of service. The average handle time (AHT) will tell you the length of the average call for the day for that representative. If you notice a high AHT, you need to talk to the person and let them know they need to start speeding things along.


This number tells you how much time a representative was available for calls versus how long they were punched in for work. An employee may be clocked in and therefore earning wages, yet not logged into the system and actively taking calls. This number should be very low unless there is a lot of work to be done between calls.

Number of calls offered

You can tell how many calls were attempted by the dialer and compare it to how many calls the representatives handled. A high number of calls offered (NCO) lets you know that potential customers are not getting through. Use call center metrics to determine the effectiveness of an interactive voice response (IVR) unit. If you do not have an IVR in place and your NCO is high, you should consider having one to keep people on the line until a live person can get to them.

Cost per contact

This is the money number. It takes the total number of contacts made for a specified time frame and divides it by all costs associated with them. It will take into consideration the cost of each contact, any wages paid, and will include rent, utilities, equipment and supplies. The other call center metrics tell you where you need improvement and this one shows you the bottom line.

Knowing how your calls are being handled and sending a survey to customers regarding the service they received will help your business grow to where it needs to be. Look for these features when implementing or improving your call center service.

Industry lingo and other terms

ACD. Automatic Call Distribution. Automatically routes calls to the appropriate call center reps by matching customer phone numbers with a database. You specify which agents should take certain calls based on the customer's products, geography, or any other parameter.

ANI. Automatic Number Identifier. Shows you the phone numbers of incoming calls, similar to caller ID for home telephone service. Call center reps use it to immediately pull the callers' details up on screen for a call.

ASP. Application Service Provider. Off-site hosting option allowing you to access your customer service call centers running on a third-party provider's network.

Autodialing. A software feature that automatically dials phone numbers and provides a pre-recorded message that prompts the listener to press the phone keypad to respond. Autodialing also keeps track of call times, length of call, and the call results. Also known as Auto Dialer.

Call accounting. Application that captures and archives call data from your phone system and then organizes it into reports. Call accounting helps you keep costs under control and allocate expenses throughout the call center.

Call blending. Allows customer service call center agents to handle both inbound and outbound calls depending on call volume.

Concurrent users. Total number of people that can use a call center function simultaneously.

Conditional routing. Changes call center routing based on situations that you define. Conditional routing uses "if-then" programming to let your call center software know what it should do. (Example: If you receive more than five calls at once, additional calls should be routed to an available agent.)

CRM. Customer Relationship Management. Focuses on compiling information about customers from multiple sources and acting on that data. Also known as ERM (Electronic Relationship Management).

CTI, or Computer Telephony Integration. Combines the functionality of computers and telephones using software, hardware, and programming to improve the customer experience. Customer service call centers use CTI to allow you to view customer information on screen while on the phone to save time.

DNIS, Dialed Number Identification Service. Indicates what number the customer called from. Call center routes inquires to appropriate agents based on user-defined information.

Database call handling. Processes phone calls according to information in the call center database.

Hold time. Length of time a caller waits before a customer service call center rep takes the call.

IVR. Interactive Voice Response. Allows customers to access information using speech recognition or by pressing buttons on their phone keypads. Helps limit the time call center agents spend on the phone answering simple customer questions.

Internal response time. Time it takes call center agents that support other groups in an organization to respond to customer inquiries.

Least cost routing, A black box that you purchase from your phone company containing software that allows you to see which dedicated lines are available for you to dial out. Least cost routing then selects the least expensive option.

Multimedia handling. Uses call center agents' downtime from taking customer phone calls to take care of inquiries by other forms of media such as email, fax, web, and chat. All questions and orders are tracked the same for other media as they would be for standard phone calls.

Offshore call center. A customer service call center provider located outside the U.S. to save businesses money.

PBX. Private Branch Exchange. In-house telephone switching system that connects all phone extensions to each other and to an external network. PBX can include various functions for customer service call centers including least cost routing, call forwarding, and call accounting.

Predictive dialing. Automatically places calls and only connects them to agents when a live person answers. The system uses previous averages of talk time to predict when agents will be done with calls and will be available to take new ones. Predictive dialing helps minimize downtime and improve call center efficiency. Also known as Predictive Dialer.

Preview dialer. Allows customer service call center agents to view the contact information of the caller before making or taking phone calls.

Prompts Menu. Selections in an IVR system that give callers multiple options for information they would like to get or a representative they want to speak to.

Queue. Customers on hold waiting for available call center agents to take their calls. Allows reps to take calls based on account priority or who called first. You can let callers know how long they have been waiting and how much time before their calls are answered.

RDBMS. Relational Database Management System. Links files together by comparing data to create single files. Allows you to cross-reference information, such as customer names and account numbers, to run queries related to all sets of data.

Real time data. Customer service call center information that is constantly updated to show how many calls are in queue and the average wait time.

Skill-based routing. Allows you to list each call center agent's strong points - sales, specific products, or technical skills - and have callers distributed to them based on those skills.

Soft phone functionality. Using computers to control phone calls for customer service call centers. Screen pop Displays customer information on call center agents' screens at the same time they answer a call.

Speech recognition. System that automatically converts speech into text that customer service call center reps can view on their computer screens. Also known as IVR.

Time-per-call average. The length of time a call center rep spends on the phone with a customer.

UCD. Uniform call distributor. Allocates calls to customer service call center agents and provides some reporting functions. Less sophisticated version of automatic call distributors (ACD).

VRU. Voice Response Unit. Automated system that responds to a caller's speech or phone keystrokes without immediate need for an operator. Also known as IVR.

VoIP Voice Over Internet Protocol. Technology that allows you to make phone calls through your PC. Most customer service call centers support VoIP, which allows you to save money vs. standard phone systems.

Workforce management. Various options that facilitate customer service call center processes including real-time call monitoring, recording, scripting, and call forecasting.

Wrap-up codes. Helps identify the types of calls that customer service call center agents work with.

There's more to learn about customer service solutions than just vocabulary! Read our Call Center Services Buyer's Guide for detailed advice that takes you through every stage of the purchasing process. Or instantly learn what different call center companies can offer your business by comparing their services side-by-side.

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