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Understanding the Modern Call Centre: Our Jargon-busting Guide

This article was published on August 12, 2021

As technology develops, new words are entering the English language every day and it’s hard to keep up. There are approximately 1,000 new entries to Oxford Dictionaries Online every year – and a large proportion of these words are used to describe new technology or online behaviour.

It’s certainly no different in the modern call centre; with so much technology enabling call centres to improve their service, from cloud technology to CRM and IVR, it’s quite easy for new words or phrases to pop up and catch you by surprise.

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Whether you love it or hate, buzzwords and jargon fill every office across the globe. We always need a new word to describe an innovative process, idea or technology and when a phrase works, it really takes off. A word can be coined online and soon become plastered over the internet. Before long, offices are buzzing with the new phrase and you’ll find it on emails, in meetings, and in big, bold letters on every PowerPoint presentation.

The increasing array of business-speak can be puzzling and that’s why we’ve compiled this jargon-busting glossary. Whether it’s technical language that baffles you or mysterious acronyms, we’ll have a definition that should make everything clear.

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API Applet ATA
BUQS Call Blending Call Rec
CLI CLID Cloud Computing
FCR GUID Hybrid Cloud
IMS INS Intra Day Statistics
MRR Multi-Tenant MVNO
RAID Redundancy RNA
Screen Pops SHIM Single Tenant
SIP Skill Based Routing SLA
Test and Dev Trunk TSR
Turret Unified Desktop UC
Wallboards WAN WC
WFM WFO Wrap Time
Phrase What It Stands For What It Really Means


Automatic Call Distributor

A system that manages incoming calls by directing them to the correct department/person to talk to. It also queues calls.


After Call Work

Also referred to as ‘Wrap Time’, this describes the time taken by an agent to complete any transaction or work for a customer after the call has ended.


Asymmetric Digital Subscriber

ADSL is a type of digital subscriber line (DSL) technology, a data communications technology that enables faster data transmission.



Also known as a “Customer Advisor” or often as “Representative”, these are people who correspond with customers on behalf of a company. This can be through any channel, for example by receiving and making customer calls, responding to emails or social media interactions.


Average Handling Time

A call center metric for the average duration of one call.


Automatic Number Identification

Also known as Calling Line Identity (CLI), this is a feature on telephones where you can see who is calling you before you answer. A common feature on many phones today – and also very helpful in a personal and business sense.


Application Programming Interface

API specifies how some software components should interact with each other.



Small application that performs one specific task that runs within the scope of a dedicated widget engine or a larger program, often as a plug-in


Analogue Telephone Adaptor

ATA is a device used to connect one or more standard analog telephone to a digital telephone system.


Blended Universal Queue System

Combination of email, chat and other data enabling universal queuing and call blending.

Call Blending

Call Blending

An effective strategy to essentially smooth demand of inbound and outbound calls. For example, an agent may receive a high volume of inbound calls at a specific time each day, so at this time outbound calls will be kept low and vice versa.

Call Rec

Call Recording

Includes the recording and storing of calls, normally relating to financial or legal transactions. The caller has to be informed before the call is recorded. For example “your call may be recorded for training or monitoring purposes”.


Contact Center as a Service

A cloud deployed contact center that enables an organization to reduce capital expenditure and operate a fully featured, multi-channel contact center with greater flexibility and scalability


Call Data and or Detail Record

A data record produced by a telephone exchange or other telecommunications equipment that contains attributes that are specific to a single instance of a phone call or other communication transaction.


Customer Experience Management

A collection of processes a company uses to track the interactions between a customer and the company.


Calling Line Identity

A technology that uses CTI software to match a customer’s number and their previous call records with the company.


Calling Line Identification

CLD refers to a service available in most telephone services, it is essentially when a caller’s number/caller ID is either displayed or provided.

Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing

The means of storing and sharing computing resources online that would normally be found on an individual’s server. This means anyone can access their documents from any source, while also having the guarantee that these resources are secure.



In the call center sector, this term refers to a hosting service whereby a company can store computing resources and data in a third party data center. It’s advantages are it provides space, power, cooling and is a form of disaster recovery. It is a very popular system for cloud providers.


Customer Relationship Management

Business processes and applications that organize customer information, activities, and conversations in one easily accessible place. A good example is Salesforce.


Corporate Social Responsibility

A widespread business term simply referring to the ethics of a company, for example in terms of environmental awareness and social factors.


Computer Telephony Integration

Computer Telephony Integration provides the ability to combine previous contact history and data with an incoming call, email, etc. This can save a huge amount of time for agents and customer, and can improve customer experience as all data is on hand.


Customer Experience

CX describes a customer’s experience when in contact with a call center. It can be based on aspects such as; waiting time, customer service, whether they felt the call was helpful, etc.


Digital Access Signalling System

A digital telephone line that connects call centers and telephone exchange. It allows up to 30 calls to be carried out on one set of telephone lines at the same time.


Dial Direct In

This is a system that informs the company what number callers used/are using, for example an extension or geo locator. This is helpful for determining how to answer an incoming call.


Direct Inward Dialling

DID is a service that provides a direct telephone number for calling into a company’s PBX (Private Branch Exchange). This therefore offers customers an individual phone number for different workstations.


Dialled Number Identification Service

This is a system that informs the company what number callers used/are using, for example an extension or geo locator. This is helpful for determining how to answer an incoming call.


Digital Subscriber Line

Technologies that provide Internet access by transmitting digital data over the wires of a local telephone network.


Enterprise Resource Planning

The name given to a management software that oversees core business processes and determines staffing levels. It’s useful for companies so they can see an integrated view of the business, and manage each business stage at different levels


Expected Wait Time

Expected Wait Time in a call center simply refers to the expected time customers may be made to wait before they are able to speak to a representative. This can vary from industries and call centers, but it is good practice to have an average expected time.


First Call (Contact) Resolution

This is a popular strategy for measuring call success in contact centers. For example, if the first time a customer calls and their queries are completely answered they will not need to call again, and therefore this would be marked as successful. However if the customer contacts again then this would not be successful.


Global Unique Identifier

A unique reference number used as an identifier in computer software

Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid Cloud

Simply put, a hybrid cloud is a combination of two or more clouds working in harmony. For example a public and private cloud. It’s normally used when customers require extra resources or additional services, e.g. cloud storage.


Information and Communications Technology

ICT is often used as an extended synonym for information technology (IT), but is a more specific term that stresses the role of unified communications and the integration of telecommunications computers.


Intelligent Call Router

This is a brand name for a telecommunications network service that is able to provide information on call queuing and agent’s availability across the call center’s network. It then directs the call to the most appropriate agent. It effectively has a similar job to a switchboard operator.


Identification and Verification

ID&V is the process of identifying and verifying who the customer is to keep their account secure. This is a legal process required by the Data Protection Act, and usually requires the caller to answer some security questions, e.g. Mother’s maiden name, date of birth, certain numbers of a PIN or password. Recent technology in some call centers allows the user to be recognised by their unique vocal patterns, also known as voice biometrics.


Information Management System

Allows the merging of data, speech and network technology over a variety of modes like voice, text, pictures and videos. In call centers, this technology works through IVR by allowing callers to interact with the company through touch tone or speech recognition. For example, press 1 for reception, press 2 for… etc.


Intelligent Network Service

INS is a service that allows the distribution of calls across a virtual call center network, and a number of different destinations.

Intra Day Statistics

Intra Day Statistics

These are statistics that give details of what is happening in a call center at certain times of the day. They are useful for finding out key information, for example what is the peak time for calls? The statistics are normally broken down into thirty minute periods.


Internet Protocol Private Branch Exchange

IP-PBX is a private branch exchange, i.e. a telephone switching system, that can switch calls between VoIP/IP (voice over internet protocol) on local lines, while also allowing users to share some external lines. IP-PBX differs from PBX as it combines data and voice networks, meaning internet access and VoIP communications are possible on a single line.


Internet Service Provider

An Internet Service Provider is offered by companies to give users access to the internet, for example; dial up, cable, fiber optic, etc.


Independent Software Vendor

ISV is a independent company specialising in making or selling software.


Interactive Voice Response

The name given to inbound call center applications that help customers get answers fast by pressing a button on their telephone keypad or verbally acknowledging a selection to get to the service they want. A popular example is “Press 1 for Customer Care, press 2 for Finance, press 3 for New Enquiries…”.


Knowledge Management System

The name given to a desktop application that agents use as a source of information to answer customer enquiries quickly and more effectively. For example, a customer may ask how long a certain process will take, the agent may not know this information off hand and so can refer to the knowledge management system.


Key Performance Indicator

A popular method to measure performance levels. It measures percentage of work volume against success criteria. For example in a call center, this may be measured as the total number of phone calls versus the amount of successful calls.


Longest Call Waiting

LCW is the longest amount of time a customer has to wait before their call is answered, usually benchmarked by a company average or target average waiting time.


Management Information System

MIS is a computer system in organizations, which provides information that organizations need to manage their business operations effectively and efficiently.


Multiprotocol Label Switching

A mechanism in high-performance telecommuncations networks that directs data from one network node to the next based on short path labels.


Monthly Recurring Revenue

Monthly Recurring Revenue is a popular term used by service providers within the technology industry, and is similar to a fixed mobile phone contract. It describes a service that is delivered as part of an annual, multi-year or fixed monthly fee contract.



A well known industry term which describes an architecture in which a single instance of a software application serves multiple customers.


Mobile Virtual Network Operator

A Mobile Virtual Network Operator provides mobile phone services to end users, but it does not have its own licensed frequency allocation of radio spectrum. MNVOs sometimes have business arrangements with mobile operators to buy network time, and then sells it to their own customers.


Network Service Provider

An NSP sells bandwidth or network access for internet users, and therefore essentially provides the backbone to an Internet Service Provider (ISP).


Pay As You Go

This is similar to a pay as you go mobile contract, whereby the customer pays for their desired services as they use them. The other option within this industry is a monthly recurring contract.


Private Branch Exchange

The name given to a telephone system that is able to switch calls on local lines, therefore allowing all users to share a number of external phone lines. This is a useful system for companies as it reduces the costs of having a different phone line per employee.


Public-Switched Telephone Network

PSTN refers to interconnection of public telephone networks, for example; telephone lines, telephone networks, fiber optic cables, etc. Switching centers allows the interconnection of these lines, and therefore is how any telephone in the world can communicate with another.


Quality Monitoring

Quality monitoring is described as: “the integration of call monitoring and quality assurance”. Therefore, trying to standardize and improve calls across call centers by ensuring quality is consistent, to improve the customer experience.


Quality of Service

Quality of service looks at the quality of applications, such as hardware, software – that are important in delivering the best customer service possible.


Redundant Array of Independent Disks

RAID is essentially a software that makes a “logical drive” and is a way to store and retrieve data using cloud technology. It’s key advantage is that this software spreads data across multiple disks for increased resilience and redundancy. It is a popular software for many companies.



A widely used technological term, meaning if an error were to occur in some form of technical software/computing there would be a ‘redundant component’ ready to be used as a back up. Therefore, in more simple terms; a safety net in the computing world.


Ring No Answer

RNA describes the time a caller has to wait until their call is forwarded. This is an important feature in call centers, as it ensures that the customer’s call will eventually be answered, instead of ignored or missed.


Software as a Service

This is a software delivery model where users can access their desired software, for example Microsoft Exchange Mailboxes, on a multi-tenant platform of the cloud. Customers normally pay on a ‘per user, per month’ model – and it is simply an easy and common way of delivering popular software to customers.


Storage Area Network

A widely used storage network, that joins different data storage devices with associated data servers. All cloud providers use a form of SAN for either live storage or as a back up system.


Skill Based Routing

A strategy to assign an incoming call to the most suitably skilled agent instead of the next available one.

Screen Pops

Screen Pops

Also known as “Computer Telephony Integration” this is a technology that combines telephone systems and your database. For example, screen pops in ContactWorld allows you to view a caller’s details on your computer when the phone call connects.

Single Tenant

Single Tenant

This is a well known industry term that describes an environment that is dedicated to one single customer, for example a private cloud. The term is used as a way to differentiate between shared or multi-tenant platforms.


Session Initiated Protocol

This is a popular signaling system that has many useful applications. It is able to successfully integrate a whole range of applications, such as; voice, data, video, pictures and games. It allows the user to switch from one application to another, for example voice and video calls.

Skill Based Routing

Skill Based Routing

A process that ensures calls are directed to agents/advisors who have the most specific skills to answer the call type effectively.


Service Level Agreement

In technology terms this defines a variety of different service elements that are expected from the supplier, for example; delivery time, performance levels, etc. In a cloud environment this refers to managed hosting services, instead of public cloud or self service models. For example, part of NewVoiceMedia’s SLA is 99.999% uptime.

Test and Dev

Testing and Development

Industry short hand that is used to describe development servers for initial applications or web service building and testing. Cloud virtual machines are commonly used to test this process.


A term used in call centers referring to telephone lines coming into a call center.


Telephone Service Representative

A term given to anyone who communicates with customers over the phone, internally or externally, either selling a product or service, or generally helping customers



This is a phrase that was used in call centers in the 1980s/90s, but is now more commonly referred to as a teleset. It simply refers to the telephone set used by an agent in a call center.

Unified Desktop

Unified Desktop

A desktop application that is becoming increasingly popular in call centers. It brings together multiple systems and interfaces and responds to both voice and electronic interactions. It can also have an underlying CRM system, and so will incorporate customer data.


Unified Communications

Is the integraton of real-time communication services.


User Interface

The interaction between users and computers to make is easy, efficient and enjoyable to operate a computer.


User Experience

User Experience is essentially the digital version of customer experience. It is improving the way call centers interact with their customers across multiple channels, such as; mobile devices, websites, online applications, etc.


Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

This is a useful set-up for suppliers and customers, whereby user configurations and desktop software sit in a central environment. Therefore any upgrades can be updated on a core platform, instead of upgrading each individual computer/tablet.


Virtual Local Area Network

VLAN is a network that allows a group of hosts to connect and communicate, regardless of their physical location.


Virtual Machines

A Virtual Machine is a form of software that creates independent environments for operating systems. It can be installed and run on multiple servers. In a cloud environment, VMs can work over multiple servers – therefore saving a huge amount on hardware costs. VMs can also reside on a single physical server, which again will reduce costs.


Voice Over Internet Protocol

VoIP is a technology that allows telephone services to be delivered over the internet. It uses facilities, such as digital data packets to deliver voice information over the internet. It can be a popular choice, as VoIP service providers are normally offered at a lower cost than traditional phone companies.


Virtual Private Cloud

This is a form of the cloud that has all the traits and benefits of both a public and private cloud. This is because VPC is delivered on a multi-tenant (shared) platform but is dedicated to specific customers, for example with firewalling, private network connections, etc.


Virtual Private Network

This is a term that describes a network that uses a public telecommunication infrastructure, for example the internet – but instead gives users secure access to their organization’s network, for example their intranet. This can be achieved through processes, such as tunneling and security procedures.


Voice Response Unit

VRU (also known as interactive voice response) is an interactive technology that allows humans to communicate with computers, either through voice or dual-tone multifrequency (DTMF) signaling keypad, e.g. a telephone keypad. This is a good feature in call centers, as customers can sometimes find their own solutions or answers through this method.



This is an electronic display showing; team performance, key performance criteria, service level, call queuing, etc within a call center. It can be used as a way of motivating the team, or as a reminder of the speed and level of service that the agents should be delivering.


Wide Area Network

An intra office data network that is used across many call centers to connect computers, equipment and terminals across a number of sites.


Wrap Codes

Wrap codes are codes that help to generate reports on call types, for example; time and length of calls. These results are configured as agents enter their codes into the ACD (Automatic Call Distributor) to identify what type of calls they are handling.


Workforce Management

Providing schedules, forecasts, plans and work projections for future events for your team.


Work Force Optimisation

Using previous and known future interactions and workflow volume to apply schedules, plans and forecasts.

Wrap Time

Wrap Time

This describes the time taken by an agent to complete any transactions or work for a customer after the call has ended.

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Nicola Brookes
Nicola Brookes

Nicola is RVP Corporate Communications at NewVoiceMedia. She will mostly blog about customer service, industry news, events and company updates. Follow Nicola on Twitter at