Off Center
A couple of years ago I wrote a post containing rather satirical and sardonic definitions of key contact center and customer care terms. Since then, there has been seemingly nonstop requests for more – mostly by my subconscious mind, which repeatedly wakes me from my sleep and demands I slap down additional items for the somewhat subversive glossary.

Well, I’ve never been one to argue with my brain (except for when it tells me to be serious or to quit drinking), thus I spent the better part of my last nap creating the following additions for my devious dictionary:    

agent retention: Bloating that occurs when contact center reps try to hold off going to the restroom until their next scheduled break.

big data: Customer information that is suspected of taking performance enhancing drugs.

The cloud: What people have their head stuck in if they think state-of-the-art hosted technology solutions will solve rampant agent disengagement
and burnout.

Customer Effort: A newfangled metric that estimates how many years the contact center takes off a caller’s life during an interaction.

customer experience: A vitamin that many executives are highly deficient in, resulting in the chronic loss of business.     

empowerment: What a contact center agent is filled with upon the realization that he could probably take his micro-managing supervisor in a fistfight. 

home agent model: A very attractive person who handles customer contacts virtually.

peer mentoring: A training and coaching approach employed by managers and supervisors who realize their agents are more competent than they are.

mobile customer service: The act of a customer moving away from your company and toward one that has adapted its contact options to the rise of smart phones.

Net Promoter Score: The single best indicator of customer satisfaction for the most single-minded companies.

social customer care: An emerging form of online service and support that entails accepting customers’ ‘friend requests’ and kissing their butt publicly.

If for some odd reason you want to read more of these devilish definitions, be sure to check out the original “Contact Center Glossary”. Oh, and feel free to add some of your own terms and definitions in the 'Comments' section below. 

Being a writer, I like it much the words and things. I’ve always felt that it is crucial to do grammar good, to spel things corectally, and to fully understand each word that you utilization.    

During my years writing about contact centers and customer care, I’ve uncovered many inconsistencies in how people use and define certain key industry terms and concepts. For instance, some people say “service level” when they mean to say “response time”. Others say “peon” when they mean to say “agent”.  And many say “industry standard” when they mean to annoy me.

So, to help get everybody on the same page, I’ve decided to create a condensed glossary for conact center professionals. While you may already know what some or all of the below words and phrases mean, you don’t.

abandonment: The feeling a contact center manager experiences just after talking to senior management about a budget increase.

adherence to schedule: A contact center metric that measures agents’ affinity for invisibility.

agent (a.k.a. rep, CSR, associate, the artist formerly known as operator): A person – usually – who handles a variety of customer transactions via a variety of contact channels while dreaming of a variety of jobs that pay better, such as pamphleteer or migrant farm worker.

average handle time (AHT): A crucial metric embraced by the world’s leading contact centers… in 1986.

best practice: Two words that raise contact center research report prices to four figures.      

contact center: A big place with bad lighting and cramped cubicles where people wear headsets to keep their skulls intact.

contact centre:  Same as above, only located in a region where people drive on the wrong side of the road or play ice hockey in the summer.

customer satisfaction: What many callers sense after screaming a stream of obscenities as they are about to cancel their account with your company.  

e-learning: A way to train agents without having to unlock their cages.

first-call resolution (FCR): The absolute most important metric that a contact center is unable to measure.

forecast: Gloomy.

home agent: A customer care professional who has forgotten how to drive and put on pants. (See also “telecommuting”.)

IVR: An electronic prison where companies house their least valuable customers.

occupancy: The percentage of time contact center agents spend handling calls versus surfing

offshore outsourcing: A strategy deployed by U.S. contact center executives who want their vacations to Asia to be tax-deductible.

quality monitoring: A practice whereby a contact center spies on its agents to officially confirm that the center’s recruiting and training programs blow.

queue: The line that forms outside a contact center’s bathroom after cold pepperoni pizza has been served as the overtime snack for the third straight day.

screen pop: A martial arts move used on slow computers by impatient agents. 

self-service: A customer care approach adopted by contact centers that can’t find anybody who wants to work for them.

skills-based routing: A tool commonly used to torture workforce management teams.

speech analytics: An expensive software solution used to confirm that customers hate your company as much as agents say.

social media: A cruel trick played on contact center professionals who were just starting to get a handle on email and chat.

supervisor: An agent who has shed his or her headset though not his or her craving for customer abuse. 

telecommuting: An innovative staffing solution based on the belief that agents perform at optimum levels in their underwear. (See also “home agent”.)

Voice of the Customer (VOC):  The sound that your agents hear in their sleep regardless of the amount of therapy or medication they try.

web chat: A contact center channel through which agents can efficiently demonstrate illiteracy to up to four or five customers at once.

workforce management: A complex science involving the use of highly sophisticated technology and mathematical formulas to misjudge the number of agents you need to schedule.