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.
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Network Control Center.
Also called Traffic Control Center. In a networked call center environment,
where people and equipment monitor real-time conditions across sites,
change routing thresholds as necessary, and coordinate events that
will impact base staffing levels.
Network Inter-flow. A technology used
in multi-site call center environments to create a more efficient
distribution of calls between sites. Through integration of sites
using network circuits (such as T1 circuits) and ACD software, calls
routed to one site may be queued simultaneously for agent groups
in remote sites. See Call by Call Routing and Percent Allocation.
Next Available Agent. A call distribution
method that sends calls to the next agent who becomes available.
The method seeks to maintain an equal load across skill groups or
services. When there is no queue, Next Available Agent reverts to
Longest Available Agent.
Noise Canceling Headset. Headsets equipped
with technology that reduces background noise.
Non ACD In Calls. Inbound calls which
are directed to an agent's extension, rather than to a general group.
These may be personal calls or calls from customers who dial the
agents' extension numbers.
Occupancy. Also referred to as agent
utilization. The percentage of time agents handle calls versus wait
for calls to arrive. For a half-hour, the calculation is: (call
volume x average handling time in seconds) / (number of agents x
1800 seconds). See Adherence to Schedule.
Off The Shelf. Hardware or software programs
that are commercially available and ready for use "as is."
Offered Calls. All of the attempts callers
make to reach the call center. There are three possibilities for
offered calls: 1) they can get busy signals, 2) they can be answered
by the system, but hang up before reaching a rep, 3) they can be
answered by a rep. Offered call reports in ACDS usually refer only
to the calls that the system receives.
Off-Peak. Periods of time other than
the call center's busiest periods. Also a term to describe periods
of time when long distance carriers provide lower rates.
Open Ticket. A customer contact (transaction)
that has not yet been completed or resolved (closed).
Outsourcing. Contracting some or all
call center services to an outside company.
Overflow. Calls that flow from one group
or site to another. More specifically, Intraflow happens when calls
flow between agent groups and Interflow is when calls flow out of
the ACD to another site.
Overlay. See Rostered Staff Factor.
Pareto Chart. A bar chart that arranges
events in order of frequency. Named after 19th century economist
PBX/ACD. A PBX that is equipped with
Peaked Call Arrival. A surge of traffic
beyond random variation. It is a spike within a short period of
Percent Allocation. A call routing strategy
sometimes used in multi-site call center environments. Calls received
in the network are allocated across sites based on user-defined
percentages. See Call by Call Routing and Network Inter-flow.
Percent Utilization. See Occupancy.
Poisson. A formula sometimes used for
calculating trunks. Assumes that if callers get busy signals, they
keep trying until they successfully get through. Since some callers
won't keep retrying, Poisson can overestimate trunks required. See
Erlang B and Retrial Tables.
Pooling Principle. The Pooling Principle
states: Any movement in the direction of consolidation of resources
will result in improved traffic-carrying efficiency. Conversely,
any movement away from consolidation of resources will result in
reduced traffic-carrying efficiency.
Position Monitoring. See Monitoring.
Post Call Processing. See After-Call
Predictive Dialing. A system that automatically
places outbound calls and delivers answered calls to agents. When
the dialer detects busy signals, answering machines or ring no answer,
it puts the number back in queue.
Primary Rate Interface (PRI). One of
two levels of ISDN service. In North America, PRI typically provides
23 bearer channels for voice and data and one channel for signaling
information (commonly expressed as 23B+D). In Europe, PRI typically
provides 30 bearer lines (30B+D). See Basic Rate Interface and Integrated
Services Digital Network.
Private Automatic Branch Exchange (PABX).
See Private Branch Exchange.
Private Branch Exchange (PBX). A telephone
system located at a customer's site that handles incoming and outgoing
calls. ACD software can provide PBXs with ACD functionality. Also
called private automatic branch exchange (PABX).
Private Network. A network made up of
circuits for the exclusive use of an organization or group of affiliated
organizations. Can be regional, national or international in scope
and are common in large organizations.
Process. A system of causes.
Profit Center. An accounting term that
refers to a department or function in the organization that does
not generate profit. See Cost Center.
Public Switched Network (PSN). The public
telephone network which provides the capability of interconnecting
any home or office with any other.
Quantitative Forecasting. Using statistical
techniques to forecast future events. The major categories of quantitative
forecasting include Time Series and Explanatory approaches. Time
Series techniques use past trends to forecast future events. Explanatory
techniques attempt to reveal linkages between two or more variables.
See Judgmental Forecasting.
Queue. Holds callers until an agent becomes
available. Queue can also refer to a line or list of items in a
system waiting to be processed (e.g., e-mail messages).
Queue Display. See Readerboard.
Queue Time. See Delay.
Random Call Arrival. The normal, random
variation in how incoming calls arrive. See Peaked Call Arrival.
Readerboards. Also called displayboards
or wall displays. A visual display, usually mounted on the wall
or ceiling, that provides real-time and historical information on
queue conditions, agent status and call center performance.
Real-Time Adherence Software. Software
that tracks how closely agents conform to their schedules. See Adherence
Real-Time Data. Information on current
conditions. Some "real-time" information is real-time in the strictest
sense (e.g., calls in queue and current longest wait). Some real-time
reports require some history (e.g. the last x calls or x minutes)
in order to make a calculation (e.g. service level and average speed
of answer). See Screen Refresh.
Real-Time Management. Making adjustments
to staffing and thresholds in the systems and network, in response
to current queue conditions.
Received Calls. A call detected and seized
by a trunk. Received calls will either abandon or be answered by
Record and Review Monitoring. See Monitoring.
Recorded Announcement Route (RAN). See
Reengineering. A term popularized by
management consultant Michael Hammer, which refers to radically
redesigning processes to improve efficiency and service.
Response Time. The time it takes the
call center to respond to transactions that do not have to be handled
when they arrive (e.g., correspondence or e-mail). See Service Level.
Retrial Tables. Sometimes used to calculate
trunks and other system resources required. They assume that some
callers will make additional attempts to reach the call center if
they get busy signals. See Erlang B and Poisson.
Retrial. A caller who "retries" when
they get a busy signal.
Rostered Staff Factor (RSF). Alternatively
called an Overlay, Shrink Factor or Shrinkage. RSF is a numerical
factor that leads to the minimum staff needed on schedule over and
above base staff required to achieve your service level and response
time objectives. It is calculated after base staffing is determined
and before schedules are organized, and accounts for things like
breaks, absenteeism and ongoing training.
Round Robin Distribution. A method of
distributing calls to agents according to a predetermined list.
See Next Available Agent and Longest Waiting Agent.