The customer relationship glossary

Customer relationship management has many acronyms. Follow our guide to understand ACD, AHT, API, and ASR.

4 August 2022

Customer relations and contact center glossary

The world of customer relations and contact centers is full of all kinds of concepts and acronyms. What better way to understand them than with a dedicated glossary?


Abandoned call: A call detected by a phone voice server in which the person hangs up before receiving an answer to their request. An answer is defined as an interaction with an advisor or an answer from the voice server or a callbot powered by AI.

ACD (Automatic Call Distribution): A solution used in contact centers to manage the distribution of incoming calls according to predefined criteria. These criteria could include availability, skills of the advisors, or even working/non-working hours.

Administration interface: The area reserved for administrators of contact center solutions that allows them to configure and operate the tool.

Administrator: The individual responsible for configuring and maintaining the technology that enables the contact center to operate. In general, the administrator can configure and manage user accounts and the advisor accounts that provide answers to customers who contact them. This is the case with our Zaion Analytics and Zaion Assistant platforms.

Agent: The person in charge of handling incoming and outgoing calls.

Agent station: All the components of a customer advisor’s workstation such as the computer, headset, etc.

Agent interface: An essential part of the contact center solution that groups together all the information and functions required for the advisor’s tasks such as taking an incoming call, making an outgoing call, transferring a call, and so on.

AHT (Average Handle Time): The total amount of time a customer service representative spends in conversation with a customer. It includes the time spent on hold, time spent filling out forms and any other tasks resulting from the conversation, as well as the duration of the conversation itself.

API (Application Programming Interface): An interface that allows two computer applications to communicate with each other to facilitate their integration. An API allows application designers to incorporate an external app into their own systems.

ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition): Technology that automatically recognizes speech and analyzes said speech and transcribes it into machine-readable text.


Blind transfer: When an advisor transfers an incoming call to another customer advisor without first checking that the advisor is available to take the call.


Callbot: “Call” refers to the phone channel and “Bot” refers to the ability to answer automatically and immediately.

The callbot is a conversational robot able to understand the customer’s intentions in natural language and to provide a precise response according to the context.

Unlike the chatbot which relies on written language, the callbot allows users to be understood and give a spoken response.

Call monitoring: A feature that lets the supervisor listen in on a conversation between a customer advisor and the caller remotely. Call monitoring is mainly used for training purposes.

Call routing: A set of rules for distributing incoming calls to the advisors of a customer relations center.

Call waiting: A feature that allows calls that cannot be handled directly by advisors to be placed in a queue. An audio message or music can be played to keep the caller waiting.

Call center: A workspace, generally in open space, where all the customer advisors work together.

CES (Customer Effort Score): An indicator that measures the effort required by a customer during their journey. The CES can determine the level of customer satisfaction and the seamlessness of the experience delivered.

Chatbot: A conversational robot that communicates in writing and in natural language with users.

The most developed chatbots can deal with spelling mistakes and adapt accordingly to SMS language. They understand the customers’ questions and provide personalized answers based on their profile and customer history.

The chatbot responds immediately to the most frequent questions regarding after-sales service, ordering, and general information about the brand. It can also redirect the customer to an advisor in the event of more complex requests. The chatbot can connect to the CRM, tracking or geolocation tools and can be rolled out across a wide variety of platforms such as websites, mobile apps, and messaging services.

Click-to-call: A tool that lets advisors dial a phone number with a single click directly from their advisor interface. This feature saves advisors from having to manually dial numbers and therefore saves a considerable amount of time.

Consultative transfer: In contrast to blind transfer, the advisor transfers an incoming call to another advisor, making sure that the latter is available to take the call, and possibly specifying the reason for the call.

Contact center: A group of human, real estate, furniture, and technical resources enabling a company to handle its relationship with its market from a distance.

Contact center sizing: The number of phone lines available to the contact center. The number of phone lines allocated will determine the capacity to handle calls and place any additional calls on hold.

Contact center solution: All the business applications that enable the management of customer relations. The contact center solution allows customer advisors to manage all incoming and outgoing calls. Some examples of how it can be used include providing information to customers about a product or service, conducting after-sales follow-up or responding to customer problems.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management): A tool for managing customer relations. It gathers all the information aimed at acquiring, registering, and retaining customers with marketing initiatives, customer services, after-sales services, and so on.


Deterrence: The action of decongesting a contact center when the line is saturated or the maximum hold time has been reached. Deterrence often takes the form of an audio message encouraging customers to call again later.

DTMF (Dual Tone Multi Frequency): A technology used to indicate numbers between 0 and 9 as well as symbols using the keys of the phone keypad. Nowadays this technology is widely used to communicate with Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems.


FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions): A knowledge base gathering the most frequently asked questions by the customers, as well as the related answers. This database can be digitized with a Callbot or a Chatbot.


Interactive Voice Response (IVR): A device that automates the welcoming of callers and qualifies their request before putting them in touch with an advisor. A voice server can also offer a self-service phone.


Net Promoter Score or NPS: The percentage of customers who are likely to recommend a company, product or service to a friend or colleague on a scale of 0 to 10. In call centers, this metric is particularly important to measure the perceived service quality felt by callers.

Number portability: The right for an individual to change telecom operator while keeping the same phone number.


On hold: The time that the caller waits before being connected to an advisor. A hold message and/or background music can be played during the waiting time.

Overflow: Tools for routing calls when the line has reached its maximum capacity or when the hold time has become too long. The routing of these calls is usually directed to a third-party phone number, but there are now technological solutions such as the Overflowbot that can efficiently process pending customer requests.


Phone port: A phone line


QoS (Quality of Service): The level of Quality of Service is analyzed using both qualitative date (e.g. % of calls answered in less than 10 seconds) and quantitative criteria (KPIs of calls handled per hour by each customer advisor).

Queue: This refers to a virtual space in a customer relations center where incoming calls that cannot be handled directly by customer advisors are ‘stored’. The maximum hold time, as well as the maximum number of calls put on hold before overflow, can be configured by the contact center solution administrator.


SaaS mode (Software as a Service): This is a software hosted by the provider and distributed as a service accessible from any computer or tablet with an internet connection. The SaaS mode includes a full range of services offered by the supplier such as implementation, support, maintenance, and requests for upgrades which are carried out remotely on the cloud.

Self-service phone: An autonomous functionality executed by voice servers with the aim of automating certain customer requests. These are mainly the most recurring low value-added requests such as indicating opening hours and recalling registered information. The self-service or autonomous tasks of customer relations centers allow advisors to concentrate on higher value-added requests like customer complaints and complex requests.

Service level: A KPI for monitoring the Quality of Service delivered to callers by a customer relations center. The service level is generally calculated as the total number of calls handled + overflow divided by the number of calls received. A minimum service level is often set as a target for supervisors to reach.

Speech Recognition (ASR for Automatic Speech Recognition): A type of Artificial intelligence technology for understanding natural language. It captures the human voice from a microphone, and analyzes it through recognizing pronounced words, intonation, and accent. It then transcribes it into a request in the form of a text or a file that can be processed by a computer. This is also known as voice recognition or Speech-to-Text.

Status (of the customer advisor): The availability of a customer advisor at any given time.

A customer advisor can be:

  • ‘Available’: Ready to receive a new incoming call
  • ‘On incoming call’: Processing an incoming call
  • ‘On outgoing call’: Processing an outgoing call
  • ‘Break/Away’: Temporarily unavailable
  • ‘Busy’: Occupied with another task and not available to take calls
  • ‘In post-call processing or Wrap-up’: Occupied completing administrative tasks in the post-call time provided, before becoming ‘Available’ again
  • ‘Offline’: Disconnected from the contact center.

Supervisor interface: Also known as the supervisor console, the Zaion Analytics platform is designed to manage your callbots, chatbots and messagingbots. This is where you can access all the information collected in real time from your conversations.


Telemarketing: Direct marketing campaigns conducted over the phone through techniques such as market research, qualifying data, securing ‘promises to purchase’ deals, and direct selling.

Text-to-Speech (TTS): A technology for vocalizing written text. Text-to-Speech can generate audio files directly from text files.

ToIP: Telephony using Voice over IP technology. See the definition for VoIP below.

Tree structure: The tree structure is the materialization of the hierarchical organization of the level 1 menus and level 2, 3 or 4 submenus of the voice server. The tree structure is often in the form of a tree with the main trunk and then branches of varying sizes. The trunk is typically the welcome message.


Virtual contact center: The virtual contact center makes it possible to unite the physical centers scattered over a geographical area. The strength of the advisors is multiplied tenfold, even though customer advisors are spread out across various sites.

VoIP (Voice over IP): A technology for transmitting voice (and video) using an IP transport network. The voice is carried in the form of packets. In practice, VoIP allows phone calls and video conferences to take place over the internet or a computer network.


Web callback: An online phone contact service that makes it possible to request a call from a human agent at no cost via a call button or a contact form on the website. The objective is for the caller to gather information about the company’s products and services through a conversation.