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Here you’ll find simple, non-nonsense explanations of terms, phrases and job titles you’ll hear whenever contact centres are discussed. Have a flick through and you’ll know your outbound sales agents from your predictive diallers in no time.
You might be more familiar with the term ‘call centre’ – the typical image of large numbers of people sat behind phones dealing with customers. As the role of the call centre has expanded to cover customer service online – through email, websites and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter – the term ‘contact centre’ is used; it’s not just calls any more.
A huge number of companies, organisations and bodies use different types of contact centres to do different jobs – from customer complaints to emergency rescues.
Why Contact Centres?
Whereas ‘call centre’ is still often used, within the industry, ‘contact centre’ is preferred. The reason for this is simple: It’s not just calls. Many centres have expanded to cover online communication as well as calls, so ‘contact centre’ is all-encompassing.
Types of Contact Centre
Outbound Contact Centres
Outbound centres make calls to potential customers who may be interested in specific services or to update information – that is, it is their job to contact people rather than the other way round. Sometimes this is in a sales capacity, but often it’s also to ‘check up’ with existing companies. For example, you may be called by your broadband provider to check if you’re happy with your service and to inform you of new packages or deals.
Inbound Contact Centres
Inbound is the opposite of outbound – you call them. This covers just about every contact centre you might deal with when making an enquiry or complaint. If you’re boilers broken and you need to call your gas provider, you’ll be calling an inbound centre. The use of the these centres is widespread and diverse – the emergency services have inbound contact centres to handle calls.
Some centres handle both outbound and inbound calls.
Contact Centre Jobs
Front Line Staff:
Customer Service Advisor
The person who deals with customer calls and queries or, in the case of outbound centres, contacts potential customers. (Also known as Agent, Customer Service Agent, Customer Sales Advisor, Representative, Call Centre Representative). Acronyms: CSA, CSR.
Quite simply, trainers train new staff. This is often on-going, as centres introduce new equipment, products, software or guidelines.
Skills required: Communication skills, professionalism, friendly attitude, motivational skills, organisation skills, adaptability, ability to think on your feet.
Responsible for the management of resources. Operational managers often form a link between Managers and ‘Behind the Scenes’ teams (see below), especially I.T.
Skills required: Strong problem solving skills, excellent management capabilities, high-level ability to work with numbers, ability to work to budget and to deadline.
H.R (Human Resources) Manager
There for the people, HR manage employment terms and conditions, holidays, wages, and any personal, professional or medical issues staff may have.
Skills required: excellent people skills, strong management skills, high-level ability to work with numbers, tact, high-level communication skills.
Contact Centre Manager
As it sounds; they run the show. They work with all the other departments to keep things running, managing budget, workforce and just about everything else. Acronyms: CCM.
Common Terms & Phrases
Average Handling Time
The average time it takes for an agent to resolve a call. Acronym: AHT.
Sounds bizzare – but it simply means someone who can handled outbound (calling out) and inbound (answering) calls.
Business To Business
Often used for sales calls – a call to a business rather than an individual. Acronym: B2B.
Call Handling Analysis
Monitoring how effectively an agent handles calls. Acronym: CHA.
First Contact Resolution
Ensuring that calls are handled the first time, without the agent needing to contact the customer again or vice versa. Acronym: FCR.
Contact centre staff that actively engage with customers, or are involved in training those who do.
Interactive Voice Response
A phone routing service. Acronym: IVR.
Key Performance Indicator
Conditions and targets used by contact centres to keep tabs on their overall performance or performance of sectors or agents. Examples include the rate of calls taken and the percentage of these calls that have been resolved successfully. Acronym: KPI.
Knowledge Management Systems
Software used by agents to make sure that the information they give is the most up-to-date and consistent across agents. Acronym: KMS.
Management Information Systems
Systems that allows contact centre managers, in real time, to view information and statistics on the overall performance of their centre. Acronym: MIS.
Outbound software that automatically calls potential customers, allocating answered calls to available agents.
Handled by software, this is the prioritisation of incoming calls to reduce the impact when staff numbers are low.
The time an agent spends resolving a call. Acronym: CHA.
Determining how many staff you will need, and when. This frequently involves software that can automatically generate schedules based on prior staff numbers and availability. (Also know as: Workforce Optimisation). Acronym: WFM, WFO.
The amount of time it takes for an agent to finalise details and transactions following the end of a call.
A meeting with your line manager to review your stats and performance.
Not sure what a contact centre is or what they do? Start here…