DSC Tech Library
Glossary of Terms
This section of our technical library presents information relating to Call Center technology and Best Practices plus software and products.
Since the Company's inception in 1978, DSC has specialized in the development of communications software and systems. Beginning with our CRM and call center applications, DSC has developed computer telephony integration software and PC based phone systems. These products have been developed to run on a wide variety of telecom computer systems and environments.
The following article relates to call center technology or customer service best practices and techniques.
] [ B-C ] [ D-H
] [ I-M ] [ N-R
] [ S-V ] [ W-Z
Database Call Handling. A CTI application, whereby
the ACD works in sync with the database computer to process calls,
based on information in the database. For example, a caller inputs
digits into a voice processing system, the database retrieves information
on that customer and then issues instructions to the ACD on how
to handle the call (e.g., where to route the call, what priority
the call should be given in queue, the announcements to play, etc.).
Day of Week Routing. A network service
that routes calls to alternate locations, based on the day of week.
There are also options for day of year and time of day routing.
Delay Announcements. Recorded announcements
that encourage callers to wait for an agent to become available,
remind them to have their account number ready, and provide information
on access alternatives. In some systems, delay announcements are
provided through recorded announcement routes (RANs).
Delay. Also called Queue Time. The time
a caller spends in queue, waiting for an agent to become available.
Average Delay is the same thing as Average Speed of Answer. Also
see Average Delay of Delayed Calls.
Delayed Call. A call which cannot be
answered immediately and is placed in queue.
Dialed Number (DN). The number that the
caller dialed to initiate the call.
Dialed Number Identification Service (DNIS).
A string of digits that the telephone network passes to the ACD,
VRU or other devise, to indicate which number the caller dialed.
The ACD can then process and report on that type of call according
to user-defined criteria. One trunk group can have many DNIS numbers.
Digital. The use of a binary code ▄ 1s
and 0s ▄ to represent information.
Direct Call Processing. See Talk Time.
Dual-Tone Multifrequency (DTMF). A signaling
system that sends pairs of audio frequencies to represent digits
on a telephone keypad. It is often used interchangeably with the
term Touchtone (an AT&T trademark).
Dynamic Answer. An ACD feature that automatically
reconfigures the number of rings before the system answers calls,
based on real-time queue information. Since costs don═t begin until
the ACD answers calls, this feature can save callers or the call
center money when long distance charges apply. Electronic Mail (E-mail).
Electronic text mail.
Envelope Strategy. A strategy whereby
enough agents are scheduled for the day or week to handle both the
inbound call load and other types of work. Priorities are based
on the inbound call load. When call load is heavy, all agents handle
calls, but when it is light, some agents are reassigned to work
that is not as time-sensitive.
Erlang B. A formula developed by A.K.
Erlang, widely used to determine the number of trunks required to
handle a known calling load during a one hour period. The formula
assumes that if callers get busy signals, they go away forever,
never to retry (˝lost calls clearedţ). Since some callers retry,
Erlang B can underestimate trunks required. However, Erlang B is
generally accurate in situations with few busy signals.
Erlang C. Calculates predicted waiting
times (delay) based on three things: the number of servers (reps);
the number of people waiting to be served (callers); and the average
amount of time it takes to serve each person. It can also predict
the resources required to keep waiting times within targeted limits.
Erlang C assumes no lost calls or busy signals, so it has a tendency
to overestimate staff required.
Erlang, A.K. A Danish engineer who worked
for the Copenhagen Telephone Company in the early 1900s and developed
Erlang B, Erlang C and other telephone traffic engineering formulas.
Erlang. One hour of telephone traffic
in an hour of time. For example, if circuits carry 120 minutes of
traffic in an hour, that's two Erlangs.
Error Rate. Either the number of defective
transactions or the number of defective steps in a transaction.
Escalation Plan. A plan that specifies
actions to be taken when the queue begins to build beyond acceptable
Exchange Line. See Trunk.
Executive Summary. A brief summary of
the key points of a more detailed report or study.
Facsimile (FAX). Technology that scans
a document, encodes it, transmits it over a telecommunications circuit,
and reproduces it in original form at the receiving end.
Fast Clear Down. A caller who hangs up
immediately when they hear a delay announcement.
Fax on Demand. A system that enables
callers to request documents, using their telephone keypads. The
selected documents are delivered to the fax numbers they specify.
Flowchart. A step by step diagram of
Flushing Out the Queue. Changing system
thresholds so that calls waiting for an agent group are redirected
to another group with a shorter queue or available agents.
Full-Time Equivalent (FTE). A term used
in scheduling and budgeting, whereby the number of scheduled hours
is divided by the hours in a full work week. The hours of several
part time agents may add up to one FTE.
Gate. See Agent Group.
Gateway. A server dedicated to providing
access to a network.
Grade of Service. The probability that
a call will not be connected to a system because all trunks are
busy. Grade of service is often expressed as "p.01" meaning 1% of
calls will be "blocked." Sometimes, grade of service is used interchangeably
with service level, but the two terms have different meanings. See
Handled Calls. The number of calls received
and handled by agents or peripheral equipment. Handled calls does
not include calls that abandon or receive busy signals.
Handling Time. The time an agent spends
in Talk Time and After-Call Work, handling a transaction. Handling
Time can also refer to the time it takes for a machine to process
Help Desk. A term that generally refers
to a call center set up to handle queries about product installation,
usage or problems. The term is most often used in the context of
computer software and hardware support centers.
Historical Reports. Reports that track
call center and agent performance over a period of time. Historical
reports are generated by ACDS, third party ACD software packages,
and peripherals such as VRUs and Call Detail Recording Systems.
The amount of history that a system can store varies by system.
Holding Time. See Average Holding Time
Home Agent. See Telecommuting