Advanced contact centre jargon

Advanced contact centre jargon is often used to intimidate and control conversations.  Yet when you get into it there is not that much to it.

Let’s have a look at some of the terms and concepts which help contact centres solve broad operational challenges and summate the issues and solutions into single words.

Working in a contact centre for a while will teach you some basic jargon but complex scenarios can benefit from customised solutions.

This article is for business and operations managers to understand what challenges and solutions are available and how to employ them in your own contact centre.

For experienced contact centre heads could you define all the key contact centre jargon? Skip down to the “Wrap up” section to test your knowledge.

  • Warm Up
  • Solutions
  • Challenges
  • Wrap up

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Warm Up

Ready for advanced contact centre jargon? Nope! Ok, lets start with basic jargon

This article assumes you have a grasp of the basic jargon of a contact centre.

If not, please read here and catch up very very quickly.

Otherwise let’s start.

 

NPI

First in my advanced contact centre jargon list is NPI.

New Product Introduction (NPI) requires a company coordinated effort.

Marketing and operations will develop new products, offers or services and this message needs to filter to all the contact points of the business.

Contact centres will often feature sales and customer care teams.  Both of whom will have major contact with customers.

It’s not enough just to remind customers via traditional marketing (advertising and social media), but the staff interaction with customers is a vital touch point.

 

How are you going to measure for quality purposes that the NPI has been successful and your teams are delivering the message?

Roll out and speed of change are important so getting a marketing heads up and planning for this task is often a tangled web of interactions and change.

Feedback from NPI to marketing is essential because as soon as feedback hits the agents on the operational floor managing objections is a complex process.

For NPI you need your basic checklist before it starts.

  • Firstly, the product / service is targeted at whom?
  • Next, what message does marketing need the operational teams to deliver?
  • Also, where and when will these messages go out to the public and media?  This is often called the media schedule
  • Furthermore why would people want to buy this? Is there competitor offer objection planning done?
  • Finally how are we going to measure the success of the campaign?

Experience is often a good guide for successful and failed roll outs.  Try to build on past experiences and learn from what didn’t work as well as that which did.

 

Churn

Next for me in advanced contact centre jargon is churn.  Not quite a machine for making butter by shaking milk or cream.

Churn is also known as attrition rate in contact centres.

A broad definition is a measure of the number of individuals or items moving out of a collective group over a specific period

Churn in a contact centre focuses on two specific primary metrics.  Customer churn and staff churn.

Customer churn is the rate at which customers are leaving compared to the rate at which new customers are joining.

Staff churn focuses on staff leaving vs. new hires.

Churn as a high percentage is a difficult number for any manager to review as it implies failure.

Recruitment and sales & marketing are expensive operations.  To lose a customer or a staff member can be for a variety of reasons.

Reducing your churn values means the business will be ultimately more profitable.

 

Campaigns

Campaigns are diverse in nature hence their inclusion in advanced contact centre jargon.

 

A campaign is a time limited focus on a specific set of customers delivering a specific message.

The word has come from the concept of a “marketing campaign“.

Marketing campaigns promote a product through different media, including television, radio, print and online platforms.

Campaigns don’t have to rely solely on advertising and can also include demonstrations, word of mouth and other interactive techniques.

Businesses operating in highly competitive markets may initiate frequent marketing campaigns and devote significant resources to generating brand awareness and sales.

 

As part of a marketing campaign the contact centre can feature as a primary contact point.

Campaigns are also used for regular activities such as a focused activity on debt collection.

The contact centre, takes a snapshot of everyone who owes money now.  This becomes “the list“.

You work through the list contacting each of the customers.  The objective of the campaign recover as much debt as possible.

Employing different approaches to convince the customer to pay are often time limited.

So a debt collection campaign is a for a window of customers who currently owe debt, with a specific message, using specific offers / approaches approved to achieve the goal.

A campaign will have a success rating based on the goal of the campaign and how close to the targets the goal gets.

 

Outsourced campaigns

Choosing your battles wisely on what you can and can’t accomplish sees outsourced campaigns as part of the list of advanced contact centre jargon.

 

It is common practice to categorise customer lists.

Marketing departments can design campaigns to perform specific marketing activity.

Yet a business might not have the resources in house to perform all the contacts required.

Business Process Outsourcers (BPOs) commonly fulfill this campaign oriented role.

Debt collection and blitz marketing campaigns to large customer bases can be readily outsourced.

 

Is it tech support or customer care?

Technical support is commonly outsourced.   To try to shorten the name it is commonly referred to as tech support.

The BPO accepts calls inbound, they would log the contact against a customer record.

They would also deliver expert knowledge on the phone to the customer to solve their problem.

As part of the contact record with the customer they would record the details of the issue so common issues can be fed back to operations to improve the business overall.

 

Customer care or just “care” would be similar to technical support but with a much broader scope and less technical focus.

Again a commonly outsourced activity.

Care would deal with any type of issue the customer might have, not just their technical problems.

Where specific expert knowledge is required these requests are “escalated” to designated experts in house or also outsourced.

 

Case Management

A brain wrap as advanced contact centre jargon goes because it has many moving parts but only one focus.

 

For any interaction where you need to solve a customer’s query within a given time window either by law or by service approach, timing the interactions adds a key dimension to the activity.

Case management is where you consider not only the management of the record but also the timings involved.

Usually applied to mature campaigns, where examination of timing is vital to improving the whole solution.

Every contact from initial contact through to “case closed” are considered a single case.

Case management can review

  • just tech support,
  • customer care in isolation
  • or the bouncing of cases between the two companies

to resolve customer issues.

 

Solutions

Advanced Technology

The most expensive part of any contact centre operation will always be the people.

Contact centres specialise in volume, so the more people the greater the cost. 

Wherever technology can be employed it can be used to reduce cost of delivery of the service but also it can be used to improve the quality of delivery.

Advanced contact centre jargon is fed a lot from technical acronyms and short hand when tech people have to discuss solutions.

 

Data Platforms

CRM

Image from http://bit.ly/2O7J5xp

Wikipedia defines Customer Relationship Management (CRM) as a model for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers.

Yet this broad scope definition means that a CRM is a sales, marketing, customer care and tech support management tool for the entire business.

Furthermore it involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support.

As different companies have different approaches to managing their customers, each CRM model can be distinctly different.

There is a large debate over is CRM for sales or customer care. The answer is that it’s both.

 

ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning

More and more common in businesses Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is key in advanced contact centre jargon.

With so much vital customer information in one place and a constant stream of operational interaction with CRMs they become a single point of authority.

By expanding the concept of the CRM to include functions such as HR, supply chain management, project management and quality, the CRM can evolve into an ERP.

Wikipedia defines ERP as the integrated management of core business processes.

An ERP centralises business data and allows for technology to better support reporting and the information capabilities of the business.

 

Communications platforms

Stalwarts of advanced contact centre jargon, communications technology introduces a lot of terms and acronyms.

 

A phone system for decades is the core of a contact centre.  The old name for a phone system was a Public Branch eXchange or PBX.

However technology has moved on and the concept of a phone system has evolved to include email and social media.

Consequently this change moved the title of call centre to contact centre to reflect the different media types.

Unified communications” platforms are systems capable of phone and electronic contact.  Verbally contracted to UC.

 

A technical connection links the phone system to the record management system.

The collective name for this connection  is called Computer Telephony Integration (CTI).

As a result CTI saves time for numerous process and procedures.

Consequently with CTI the phone system is able to chat to the record system and vice versa which opens up data and process improvement opportunites.

 

Components working together

There may be times when the systems need to chat to other systems for example when using accounting software or having to send data to social networking websites.

These systems will have a way for the computers to chat to each other.

This mechanism on how they chat is documented and delivered through an Application Programming Interface (API)

API is a collective term for solutions to be able to chat to each other.  There are many ways this can happen.

 

Also an extension to a phone system can perform outbound dialing called an outbound dialler.

The system dials the phone number on behalf of the agent to reduce the time spent dialing and improve consistency of numbers dialed.

As a result there are a number of different types of strategy an outbound dialler can employ called dialing strategies.

Furthermore, if a dialler is unavailable the record system can distribute the contacts.

 

TPV

TPV has a specific role and place in advanced contact centre jargon.

 

For utility services (gas, water, power) it was possible to change your supplier over the phone.

Utilities have limited offerings to sell on bar price.  Electricity is electricity, only your supplier changes.

 

Sales people have to push hard to sell.  It is the nature of the business.

However pushing led to a number of campaigns where people, especially older people, were coerced into changing supplier.

These people entered into contracts by sales people who didn’t fully disclose all the terms and conditions of the contract.

 

ComReg legislated the area to stop unscrupulous practices.

As a result after a sale, an independent third party chats to the customer.

Consequently this third party double checks separately with the customer if they really did want to enter the contract and all the Ts and Cs are clear.

Third Party Verification (TPV) is the name of this service.

As a result the sales company outsources the TPV service to ensure its independence and confirm sales.

TPV must remain impartial yet the position of having to retain a TPV company can lead to conflicts of interest but is a legal requirement.

 

QA

As any business wants to improve every aspect of their operation.

One approach is to monitor, measure, grade and subsequently improve those targeted processes and procedures.

Processes and procedures are easy to refine on paper.  However people are a lot more difficult to manage, especially when they are mid contact with a customer.

Taking call recordings, grading them and then engaging in appropriate training is a key aspect of contact centre operations.

Reviewing and improving every aspect of operation is collectively called Quality Assurance (QA).

Furthermore Quality Control (QC) is an instance of the delivery of QA i.e. doing a review or a check.

Reviews and checks outsource well and there is a thriving industry for this work.

 

IVR

Phone systems can verbally deliver a menu using either a computer voice or recorded audio clips.

The system also allows the user to choose options by pressing a number using technology called Interactive Voice Response (IVR). 

Also as technology improves it is expanding to incorporate speech recognition as well.

 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is playing a greater role.

Firstly AI hears what the customer says.  Next it converts the speech to text through Natural Language Processing (NLP).

Subsequently like a google search it manages the question and uses a computer generated voice to deliver appropriate responses.

 

Collectively this solution is a Bot.  Not a robot as that involves parts, but a bot.

Bots have become so effective it has become law in places that a company has to make you aware you’re speaking to a bot.

 

Wrap up

So that is a large chunk of the advanced contact centre jargon I’ve bumped into.

As I did last time, here is the summary grid to quickly go through all the terms by general area.

Operations Services Tools
  • New Product Introduction (NPI)
  • Churn /  attrition rate
  • Customer churn
  • Staff churn
  • Campaign
  • the List
  • Media schedule
  • Tech support
  • Customer care
  • Case management
  • Business Process Outsourcers (BPOs)
  • Outsourced campaigns
  • Third Party Verification (TPV)
  • Quality Assurance (QA)
  • Quality Control (QC)
  • Marketing campaign
  • Debt collection campaign
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
  • Public Branch eXchange (PBX)
  • Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)
  • Application Programming Interface (API)
  • Outbound dialler
  • Dialing strategies
  • Artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Natural Language Processing (NLP)
  • Bot

This list adds a lot to the original jargon list but is still not exhaustive.

Did I miss any?  Do you have other commonly used expressions worth adding?

If there’s anything in this article you’d like to chat to me about you can contact me here or on social media.

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