Appendix B: Glossary of Call Center and CRM Acronyms and Definitions

Call center definitions and acronyms


See Automatic Call Distribution.

ACD Overflow

A system feature wherein a call waiting in queue for an answer resource is offered to other centers operated by the enterprise. In better implementations, the caller becomes queued at all sites waiting for the first appropriately skilled CSR in any of the locations to become available.

Advisory Tones

The dial tone, busy signal, and dialing signal heard when using a phone system.


A generic term applied to all people working within call centers. The term became associated with call centers because airlines were among the first large ACD users; the people on the phones were reservation agents.


A term applied to telephone transmissions wherein the voice signal is converted into an electrical signal nearly identical to the sound waves produced by the human voice. Signals in the telephone network are either analog or digital.


Automatic number identification. A sequence of digits at the beginning of a phone call that identifies the calling phone number. Central to CTI applications, ANI can be deciphered and used to link the call to information on the call or caller that is available in host or workgroup databases. Called ANI by long-distance carriers, it is CLID—calling line identification to local phone companies.

Answering Supervision

A signal returned from the Central Office (CO) to indicate the call has been answered at the distant end.

Applications Programming Interface (API)

The software interface between application programs and the interface to network services or program-to-program communications. Standardized APIs are critical for developing or writing applications, allowing developers to focus on the front end as opposed to protocols.

Application Service Provider (ASP)

An organization that provides software suites to companies on a usage fee basis, usually via VPNs or the Internet. The economic justification for this approach is that the using company does not have to develop or maintain an IT organization or the expertise requisite to support the complex software suite. The ASP business model is usually directed toward providing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and customer relationship management (CRM) applications.

Area Code Allocation

A process associated with routing 800 calls among multiple contact centers where the area code of the caller is used to determine which center will receive the call attempt.

Automated Attendant

A device that answers and processes incoming calls, directing callers to options such as extension directories or allowing access to live operators or attendants.

Automatic Call Distribution

Also commonly referred to as ACD, it is a functionality available in some PBX systems designed to handle and manage large volumes of incoming calls. Typical applications include customer service desks, telemarketing operations, reservation systems, and so on. An ACD allows efficient distribution of calls to available operators or voice processing options such as voice mail.

Average Speed of Answer (ASA)

One of the earliest metrics associated with handling telephone calls. ASA has slowly lost favor as the top metric for service level because averages tend to disguise the queue times that a significant, usually a minority, of callers actually experience.

Basic Rate Interface

A circuit that provides the user with two bearer (B) channels and one data (D) channel and is referred to as 2B+D. The bandwidth allocation is two 64,000-bits-per-second channels and one 16,000-bits-per-second data channel for signaling.

Call Accounting

Used to gather and monitor information about all telephone calling patterns, particularly long distance. Also monitors incoming calls. Usually a computer-based system linked to a telephone system.

Call Center

The location for centralized calling (inbound or outbound) or call reception activity. Staffed by CSRs, the call center usually involves an ACD linked to customer databases for order entry and so forth.

Call Control

Signals used to start or set up a phone call as well as to monitor and terminate (tear down) phone calls.

Call Processing

Activities related to starting, connecting, monitoring, or disconnecting phone calls. Pre-CTI, these functions were normally provided by the PBX and central office equipment.

Caller ID

A telephone service that provides the telephone number of the party placing a call to the called party.

Central Office or CO

The name given to the local telephone company's servicing exchange or "office"; usually where the big switches are located.


A telephone system usually supplied by the local telephone company. The switching equipment is located in the telephone company central office. The only equipment at the customer premises is the telephones. One of the attractions of Centrex systems is that the system is rented rather than owned.

Circuit Switching

A methodology for moving digital and analog information wherein computer-controlled switching equipment is instructed to set up a continuous connection from the sender to the receiver. This connection remains in place even when no bits are being transmitted. Circuit switching is the technology upon which the existing telephone system is built. It is the opposite of packet switching.


Calling line identification.

Client/Server Architecture

Information technology in which the client (PC or workstation) requests information from a server. Servers may provide the user interface and perform some or all of the application processing. The server maintains databases and processes requests from the various clients to extract data from or to update the database.


A word derived from the words code and decode referring to a solid-state device that digitizes human analog voice waveforms into bit streams and then back into analog voice waveforms.

Conditional Transaction Routing

A functionality in transaction routing whereby the system can access a set of real-time variables concerning the system, application, and CSR conditions. These variables are tested, and depending on the outcome of the test, different actions are taken.

Contact Center

A term increasingly being applied to multimedia-enabled call centers, which are evolved call centers that integrate the Internet into their operations. Typically, contact centers include text chat, e-mail handling, Website support technologies, and self-help devices that operate in the voice and Web environments.


A situation in which several phones or devices are attempting to access the same line. Telephone systems establish protocols (first-in, first-off, etc.) to establish connection and inform other callers of call status (busy signal).


Customer premise equipment; sometimes referred to as "customer provided equipment" to identify equipment on the premises owned by the customer.


Customer service representative; also referred to as an agent.


Computer telephony integration. The process, by which a telephone switch passes certain call information to a computer, allowing the computer to manage the call based on commands from a software application. Also refers to the process of using an adjunct computer to provide number crunching or database-intensive activities for the host PBX.

Custom Local Area Signaling Service (CLASS)

Services received from a local telephone company such as CLID. Other CLASS services could include distinctive ringing, call waiting, selective call forwarding, and selective call screening.

See also ANI.

Data-Directed Routing

The process of routing a caller based on information that exists about that caller within enterprise databases. For example, a contact center might wish to route calls from its best customers to selected CSRs ahead of other callers.

Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM)

A fiber-optic technology in which each fiber strand is actually divided into the individual wavelengths of light that make up white light. In this way, each wavelength of light on each strand can carry its own data stream.

Dialed Number Identification Service (DNIS)

An interexchange carrier service offering in which typically the last four numbers dialed by the calling party are transmitted to the ACD to help identify what kind of transaction the caller requires. DNIS is fundamentally similar to direct inward dialing (DID), a feature commonly found in private branch exchanges (PBX).


A device that uses binary code to represent information. In the world of telephony, this term refers to the encoding of an analog voice waveform into digital values represented by bits. The advantage of digital transmission over analog transmission is greater fidelity and resistance to noise.

Direct Inward Dialing (DID)

Calls to a DID number are routed directly to that number without the use of an operator and extension numbers.


Digital service, level 0. The global standard for digitizing one voice conversation (64,000 bpd or 64kb/s).


Digital service, level 1. There are 24 DS-0 channels in a DS-1, also known as a T1 (1.544 megabits) in North America.


Digital signal processor. A specialized microprocessor used extensively in telecommunications and multimedia applications.


Dual-tone multifrequency. The low and high frequency tones that comprise Touch-Tone signals.

Dumb Switch

A switching mechanism that has no call control capability. It responds to call control instructions from a connected computer.

El Line

The European version of a digital circuit that provides 32 voice channels and a signaling channel. The U.S. version is called a T1 line.


An electronic message usually sent from one person to another. The message contains the recipient's address, subject line, message, attachments, and signature. Attachments to e-mail messages might consist of data files, programs, audio or video files, and links to other Websites.

E-mail Auto Response

This function involves receiving a customer's e-mail message and providing responses, usually prewritten, based on a software routine's analysis of the message content.


A Danish engineer who more than 100 years ago created several statistical tables that are still used today to calculate the number of trunks needed to handle calling demand, expressed in hours and the number of agents required to meet a particular service-level goal. The two tables most frequently used are Erlang B (used for trunk calculation) and Erlang C (used for CSR staffing and scheduling).


A local area network transmission protocol wherein devices with information to transmit "listen" to the traffic on the network and insert their packets when possible. Devices are sensitive to packet collision and will retransmit packets so affected.

Event Code

Also sometimes called a "wrap-up code," this term refers to digits entered by the CSR at the conclusion of a telephone call that represents call disposition information.

Facsimile (Fax)

The communication of anything printed on a page between distant locations. Fax machines are able to scan a page and transmit a coded image over telephone lines. The receiving fax machine prints a replica of the original page.


PC-based IVR application that faxes callers' requested information

See also Interactive Voice Response (IVR).


This is a technology enhancement to an existing system whereby callers can automatically request that information be transmitted to them via fax machines.


A LAN-based interactive voice response application used to send and receive faxes.

Fiber-Optic Cable

A cable made up of thousands of individual glass fibers arranged in a bundle. These bundles are laid along railroad rights-of-way or inside pipelines and serve as backbones for high-speed and high-capacity networks. Fiber networks typically utilize packet-switching technologies. Each fiber strand is capable of handling high-speed data streams.

First-Party CTI

Computer telephony integration application performed entirely upon the agent's desktop. No CTI server is involved. Caller identification information is conveyed to the softphone application running on the agent's PC and is automatically pasted into the data access application.

Freephone Service

Telephone service offering that does not charge the caller for the call; rather, the receiving party pays for the call. In the United States, this offering is called "800" or In-Wats service.

Graphical User Interface (GUI)

Referred to as "gooey", a graphics-based user interface that employs icons, pull-down menus, and mouse clicks on the part of the user to cause the system to function in desired ways. This technique has largely replaced the text-based command-line approach used in earlier generations of software.

Ground Start/Loop Start

A way of signaling on subscriber trunks in which the tip (plus side of circuit) and ring (minus) are bridged (grounded) to get a dial tone.

Hypertext Mark-Up Language (HTML)

A high-level language used to create the look and feel of the content found on Web pages.

Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)

Digital service from local or long-distance telephone companies. The implementation varies greatly from country to country. In ISDN, the signaling channel is coined the D channel. Channels carrying the content of the information are called B channels (other channels carry link setup information but are not involved in user-to-user signaling).

Integrated Software Vendors (ISVs)

Telecoms and computer experts that have the capability to integrate system and software from multiple vendors.

Interactive Protocol (IP)

The protocol responsible for ensuring that packets are sent to the right destination.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

A software application residing on a powerful PC that permits a caller to retrieve information from computer databases by listening to voice prompts and responding with telephone keypad depressions. This technology has been enhanced with natural language, speaker-independent voice recognition.

InterExchange Carrier (IXC)

The term applied to telephone companies that provide long-distance service.


This term refers to the frequent occurrence of packets arriving out of order in a packet-switching environment, where individual packets can traverse multiple different routes to their destination. This situation imposes either greater delays on the assembly of the entire message or causes the message to have small missing pieces. In Voice over IP, jitter accounts for lower fidelity.


This term refers to another type of delay in packet-switching networks. It refers to the delay imposed by the distance (minimal) and the number of routers (potentially many) the packet traverses to arrive at its destination.

Local Area Network (LAN)

A communication network that provides service to users in a defined area, such as a building. A LAN consists of servers, workstations, a network operating system, and a communications link. The two most prevalent LAN technologies are Ethernet and Token Ring.

Local Loop

The traditional view of a physical wiring network (hard wired) between a telephone company central office and a subscriber. In a PBX environment, the local loop (trunk) is between phone company equipment and equipment on the customer premises.

Management Information System (MIS)

Software designed to provide real-time and historical reporting of information of interest to management and staff about contact center performance.


Coined by William Safire, this term defines the world of mobile commerce.

Multi-Vendor Integration Protocol (MVIP)

Consists of standard bus, switching, and operating systems and enables application developers to integrate different PC board telecommunications/voice technologies.

Network Interface

The point at which telephone company network resources connect with equipment on the premises.

Network Interface Module

The electronic component providing the network interface for a PC or workstation, from simple connections such as loop start lines to T1 or ISDN services.


NetWare loadable module (Novell).

NPA/North American Numbering Plan

Refers to the assignment and management of the area code system for North America.


A measure expressed as a percentage of the total sign-in time spent by an agent handling transactions and doing any necessary work related to that transaction.


When a telephone handset is in the cradle, it is idle or "on hook" (the term dates from phones that had hooks for hanging up the earpiece). When a handset is "off hook," it is ready to be used (this is the "original" I/O process).

Open System

A term used to describe a manufacturer-independent system. In contact centers, products from other vendors can be easily integrated. In a larger sense, it means that the hardware required to run the application can be purchased from any of a variety of sources, which helps ensure lower acquisition costs.

Packet Switching

A methodology for moving digital information wherein small containers carry a discrete number of bits of information. Each package contains an address representing the packet's destination. Implicit in packet networks is the notion of no central intelligence.

PCM Expansion Bus (PEB)

Provides an interface between the telephone network and processing resources.

Percent Allocation

A term used to describe the allocation of "800" calls among multiple contact centers by percentage points. In practice, the service control point would be instructed to send 30% of the calls to Center A, 50% to Center B, and 20% to Center C, for example.

Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS)

Basic telephone service, a single line with dial tone and no call processing or applications.


Point of access into a telephone system (an analog line).


The term applied to a "gateway" to information on the Internet.

Power Dialer

A system that automatically dials numbers from a list, differentiates between system-intercept tones, busy signals, answering machines, ring-no-answer, and actual human voice to present agents with live contacts.

Predictive Dialer

An application that has a computer dial numbers from specified databases. If the call is answered, it is passed to an agent/operator. If the call is not completed, the dialer moves on to a new number.

Preview Dialing

Part of an automatic dialing application. Allows onscreen preview of the number being dialed prior to the actual dialing process.

Primary Rate Interface (PRI)

An ISDN circuit, equivalent to T1, running at 1.544 megabits per second.

Private Branch Exchange (PBX)

A business telephone switch residing on the customer's premises used to aggregate trunks and feed calls from the telephone company central office to the destination telephone.


The rules governing the transmission of data.


Public switched telephone network.


A waiting list. Callers are frequently placed into a queue awaiting an available agent.


The "common" telephone jack, which is usually wired with four wires with the red and green wires signifying the tip and ring circuits.


A highly specialized, high-power computer that accepts packets, reads their destination addresses, and sends them to the router next closest to their final destination at incredibly fast rates.

Sampling Rate

Number of times per second an analog signal is sampled in order to convert to binary code, with the objective of producing a digital signal.

Screen Pop

The capability of an ACD system to communicate with a firm's database through CTI software so that information about the caller appears on the agent's screen at the same moment the caller is connected to that agent.


Agents sometimes use an on-screen script to handle a call. A well-written script that considers all potential branches that a conversation might take can dramatically reduce training time for new agents in the contact center


A computer in a client/server environment that processes requests from clients.

Service Control Point (SCP)

A high-speed, high-power computer database used by interexchange carriers (IXCs) in conjunction with signaling system 7 to decode the physical telephone number behind 800 numbers.

Service Level

The contact center metric that specifies what percentage of calls is answered in a given time frame. Typically, call/contact center service levels may be expressed as 80% in 20 seconds or less.

Signal Computing System Architecture (SCSA)

An open standard architecture for specifying the interfaces for PC-based CTI applications.

Signaling System 7 (SS7)

A telephone company network for providing signaling information regarding calls on the network.


A derogatory term applied to unwanted e-mail or e-mail messages mass-mailed to groups or lists of people.


Another name for a place where a call can be answered. It may be a telephone, an attendant console, a PC, or any other device.

T1 Line

A digital circuit with a bandwidth of 1.544 million bits per second capable of handling 24 voice paths and a signaling channel.

Telephony Services Application Programming Interface (from Novell/ AT&T) or TSAPI

An interface developed to allow computer telephony integration of Novell LANs with AT&T switches.

Text Chat

A Website support technology enabling a Website visitor to click on a "contact us" button to obtain needed real-time support. The browser window opens a secondary window in which the visitor and a Web-enabled agent can conduct a real-time text-chat session.

Third-Party CTI

A computer telephony integration that is facilitated by a server with access to the ACD system and to enterprise databases. The ACD system sends caller identification information together with the position number of the agent who will get the call. The server can then fetch the caller's data and paint it on the screen simultaneously with the connection of the caller to the agent.

Tip &Ring

The traditional telephony indication of "plus/ground" and "minus/positive" in electrical circuits.

Token Ring

A local area network transmission protocol wherein each device receives a software "token" sequentially permitting that device to transmit a packet of information. The device then passes the token to the next device.

Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)

This software breaks down data files into packets of about 1,500 characters at the origination point and reassembles those packets at the receiving end.

Virtual Contact Centers

Multiple contact centers, located in different geographical areas, function as a single center by using links between the sites or by performing call routing within the network before the calls arrive at the sites.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

This product offering from carriers gives user organizations more control and security over communications than the public network. As the name implies, control and security issues are easier to deal with if an organization does not share the facilities. This service provides the user with the benefits of having a private network without the cost of building one.

Voice mail

A specialized software application that digitizes incoming human voice messages and stores them on disk. The application segregates the disk into discrete mailboxes and gives the owner the ability to restore and delete voice messages.

Voice over IP (VoIP)

The capability of engaging in a voice conversation over the Internet, typically through a multimedia-equipped personal computer (e.g., a PC equipped with microphone and speakers). The advantage of the technology lies in the capability to provide real-time support to Website visits on a single phone line. VoIP is also very attractive to contact center users because it could potentially replace the need for freephone service like 800 calling.

Voice Recognition Unit (VRU)

A product used in IVR systems.

Web Call-Back

A Website support technology wherein the Web visitor fills out a brief form on the Website requesting a telephone call-back at a specific number and specific time to receive needed information.

Web Page Push/Collaboration

This technology allows a contact center agent to interact with a Website visitor in real time by synching the two browsers. This permits the agent to cause new Web pages to appear in the visitor's Web browser while they engage in text chat or VoIP conversations. This is critical functionality for organizations wishing to cross sell and upsell on the Web.

Wide Area Network (WAN)

A communications network that spans a larger geographical area than a local area network, such as campus remote facilities. Wide area networks require facilities from interexchange or local exchange carriers.

Windows Telephony

A Microsoft/Intel collaboration, including a telephony interface standard for applications developers, hardware OEMs, and service providers.

Windows Telephony Application Programming Interface (WTAPI)

A programming interface and architecture operating under Microsoft's Windows operating system designed to stimulate third-party development of shrinkwrapped telephony applications for Windows-based PCs and LANs.

Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)

A subset of Hypertext Mark-Up Language used to translate Web pages to a format more compatible to the small screens found in mobile phones.


A term that refers to how a task is performed. Typically, a call is analyzed and broken down into discrete steps. Information needed at each step is identified to keep screen clutter at a minimum. Information not germane to the current task is not provided.

Workforce Management

In the contact center, this term refers to software systems that accept transaction-handling history, generate forecasts for transaction demand, permit acceptable workshifts to be defined, allow agents to establish workshift preferences, and create individual agent schedules that attempt to meet service-level goals with a minimum expenditure of agent time and effort.

Call Center Operation(c) Design, Operation, and Maintenance
Call Center Operation: Design, Operation, and Maintenance
ISBN: 155558277X
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 90
Authors: Duane Sharp
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