Customer Service Dictionary: Important Definitions In The Contact Center

cartoon CSAT AI dog with text A is for... to introduce the customer service dictionary

Customer Service Dictionary: Important Definitions In The Contact Center

Like most industries, customer service has its own jargon – chock full of acronyms (context is everything). Here is a customer service dictionary of 65 common terms and acronyms with some links if you want to go deeper. 

Abandonment Rate: This metric measures the percentage of customers who abandon a call or interaction before it is completed.

Agent: see Customer Service Agent (CSA)

Agent Life Cycle: The total time an agent is with their employing company.

Agile: A business approach, which encourages collaboration, responsiveness, and ownership, to create ongoing performance improvements.

Application Programming Interface (API): The bridge that allows two different applications to communicate with each other. Also provides the building blocks to speed up scaling and integration without the need to manually code from scratch. Example: Zendesk has its own API that allows its users “to bulk-import resources, create apps, pull data to external sources, and more.”

Average Handle Time (AHT): This metric measures the total amount of time an agent spends on a customer interaction, including call time, hold time, and post-call work.

Average Response Time: The amount of time it takes for a customer service representative to respond to a customer inquiry, usually applied to email or chat support.

Average Talk Time (ATT): The amount of time customer service representatives spend actively engaging with customers during phone or live chat interactions.

Average Wait Time (AWT): The amount of time customers spend in a queue or on hold before a customer service representative handles their issue.


Backlog: An accumulation of unsolved tickets. 

Benchmarking: A comparison of one group’s performance (company or agent or other) versus the performance of another. Helps to assess performance amongst peers or competitors.  

Big Data: Large, diverse datasets generated through customer interactions and data processing used to discover patterns, trends, and behaviors.

Brand: What customers think of when they see/hear a company name. The overall impression.

Bug: Problem or fault in a product, service or process.

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO): Outsourcing responsibility for a function or operation to an external organization, whether onshore, offshore or virtually.


Callback Rate: This metric measures how often customers need to call back for the same issue or question.

Canned Responses: Pre-written or pre-recorded standard responses to common and frequently asked questions. (see Scripts)

Change Management: Process of planning, managing and implementing change within a company; organizational, procedural or technological.

Channels: All the ways customers can reach a brand like phone, email, social media, text, chat (see Omnichannel).

Chatbot: A type of conversational AI that provides self-service for customers through a messaging app or other text channel.  

Churn Rate: The percentage of customers who stop doing business with a company over a period of time. Note: Churn as a loss can be applied to customers or agents.

Conversational AI: A set of artificial intelligence based technologies that can recognize and respond to human speech and text inputs at a human level. 

Customer Effort Score (CES): This metric measures the perceived effort required by customers to get their issues resolved.

Customer Experience (CX): Customer opinion of experience with a brand 

Customer Journey: The path a customer takes whether in a single purchase or across the entire experience from potential customer to customer to long-term loyalty. 

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): The estimated total value a customer will bring to a business over the course of their relationship with the company.

Customer Loyalty: This is shown when customers return to a business for purchases, or recommend, praise and even defend a business.

Customer Retention: A company retains customers by getting them to be repeat buyers and become loyal to the brand often by providing great customer experience and/or great prices.

C is for CSAT score

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): This metric measures how satisfied customers are with a product or service, usually through a survey or a rating system.

Customer Segmentation: Groupings and tracking groups of customers who share a common need or characteristic like location, age, spend, income or industry.

Customer Service Agent (CSA): aka agent, representative, rep – Member of the support team that is primarily responsible for human customer support interactions and solving support tickets. In agile teams, agents also serve sales and other functions.


Email Ticketing System: A system used by businesses to manage, assign and track customer service inquiries received via email.

Empathy: The ability to understand another person’s feelings. A key customer service agent skill and modern metric.

Empathy is an important customer service skill and metric

Engagement:  Interaction between a brand and its customers or employees. Measuring engagement gives an indication of the health of the relationship.

Escalation Rate: This metric measures the percentage of customer interactions that are escalated from a frontline agent to a more senior agent or supervisor.


Frequently Asked Question (FAQ): A publicly available collection of the most commonly asked questions a company gets from customers, and the answers to them.

Feedback: A customer’s opinion of their experience with a company often given in response to a survey, but also via other channels. Feedback can also be gathered from employees/agents.

First Call Resolution (FCR): This metric measures the percentage of customer inquiries or issues resolved during the first interaction with an agent.


Gamification: Use of gaming style methods to encourage or guide certain customer or agent behaviors.

Generative AI: Artificial intelligence (AI) that can be used to create new text, images, video, audio, code, summarizations, responses and synthetic data. Well known examples include ChatGPT and Bard.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR): Automated phone menu interacting with callers.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Strategic indicators that measure performance or progress based on specific business goals and objectives.

Knowledge Base: A customer facing, or external knowledge base is a self-serve online library of everything there is to know about your product or service. An internal knowledge base includes agent resources like customer FAQs and troubleshooting guides.


Metrics: Quantitative measurements for tracking performance of regular business processes or activities, like agent performance.

Net Promoter Score (NPS®): This metric measures the likelihood of a customer to recommend a product or service to others on a scale of 0-10. Net Promoter, Net Promoter Score, and NPS are trademarks of NICE Satmetrix, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc. and Fred Reichheld

Occupancy Rate: The amount of time customer service representatives spend handling customer interactions in comparison to available work hours.

Omnichannel: Providing seamless customer support across multiple channels like website, social media, chat, phone and text. 

Open Ticket: Initial state of a customer support ticket, before being assigned to an agent or addressed.

Personalization: Tailoring support to individual customer preferences based on behavior and other unique data.

QA = Quality Assurance


Quality Assurance (QA): The process of tracking and analysis of customer service conversations, customer sentiment and product/service quality with the intent of providing excellent service.

Quality Management (QM): Monitoring, measuring, and improving the quality of interactions between customers and customer service representatives, and the overall customer service experience. QM also involves training employees to provide top-notch customer service, gathering and analyzing customer feedback and making data-driven improvements to CX.

Response Rate: The percentage of customer inquiries that receive a response from the customer service team.


Scripts: Pre-written or pre-recorded text or templates for agents or AI to give to customers. (see Canned Responses)

Self-Service: A customer service model where customers are able to solve their own queries through an online knowledge base or FAQ section.

Service Level Agreement (SLA): This is a contractual agreement between a service provider and a customer that specifies the level of service to be provided and the support offered.

Service Level: The percentage of calls or interactions that customer service representatives answer within a specified time period.

Subject-matter Experts: Support team members with extensive knowledge of a product, service, subject, industry or technology. 

Survey: A questionnaire sent to the customer, often after resolution or service, to gauge customer satisfaction with the support received.


Ticket: aka Support Ticket, tracks a customer issue and the steps to resolution. 

Ticket Routing:  Process of assigning a customer request to an agent or team. 

Ticket volume: The number of tickets created on a regular basis.   

Tiered Support: Multi-level support system assigning tickets to agents by level of knowledge needed for resolution.

Upselling: Offering customers additional products or services that complement their purchases and increase the value of the transaction.

User Experience (UX): A customer’s overall experience with a business that involves every aspect of interaction with a product or service offering.

Voice of Customer (VoC): VoC represents the voice of the customer collected through customer surveys, feedback and other methods. This is used to make business decisions and improve overall customer experience.

Like most languages, the customer service dictionary is always changing. As new technologies and approaches are developed support will continue to evolve. Are you ready to evolve your customer support?