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Contact Center: Glossary

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A contact center is a central point in an enterprise from which all customer contacts are managed. The contact center typically includes one or more online call centers but may also include other types of customer contact as well,including e-mail newsletters, postal mail catalogs, Web site inquiries and chats, and the collection of information from customers during in-store purchasing. A contact center is generally part of an enterprise's overall customer relationship management (CRM).

automated speech recognition (ASR) - a technology that allows users of information systems to speak entries rather than punching numbers on a keypad. ASR is used primarily to provide information and to forward telephone calls.

Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) - a telephone facility that manages incoming calls and handles them based on the number called and an associated database of handling instructions.

call center - a central place where customer and other telephone calls are handled by an organization, usually with some amount of computer automation.

chatterbot- a program that attempts to simulate the conversation or "chatter" of a human being.

collaborative browsing - a software-enabled technique that allows someone in an enterprise contact center to interact with a customer by using the customer's Web browser to show them something.

contact center - a central point in an enterprise from which all customer contacts are managed.

CRM(customer relationship management) - an industry term for methodologies,software, and usually Internet capabilities that help an enterprise manage customer relationships in an organized way.

customer service chat - an Internet service included as part of a business' Web site that allows the user to communicate in real time with a customer service agent by using an instant messaging (IM) application.

FAX- the telephonic transmission of scanned-in printed material (text or images),usually to a telephone number associated with a printer or other output device.

middleware- a general term for any programming that serves to "glue together" or mediate between two separate and often already existing programs.

intelligent virtual agent - a chatterbot program that serves as an online customer service representative for an organization.

IP telephony (Internet Protocol telephony) - a general term for the technologies that use the Internet Protocol's packet-switched connections to exchange voice, fax, and other forms of information that have traditionally been carried over the dedicated circuit-switched connections of the public switched telephone network (PSTN).

issue tracking system (ITS) - a software application that allows an enterprise to record and follow the progress of every problem or "issue" that a computer system user identifies until the problem is resolved.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) - a software application that accepts a combination of voice telephone input and touch-tone keypad selection and provides appropriate responses in the form of voice, fax, callback, e-mail and perhaps other media.

speech recognition - the ability of a machine or program to receive and interpret dictation, or to understand and carry out spoken commands.

media gateway - any device, such as a circuit switch, IP gateway, or channel bank that converts data from the format required for one type of network to the format required for another.

PBX(private branch exchange) - a telephone system within an enterprise that switches calls between enterprise users on local lines while allowing all users to share a certain number of external phone lines. The main purpose of a PBX is to save the cost of requiring a line for each user to the telephone company's central office.

personalization- the process of tailoring pages to individual users' characteristics or preferences.

predictive technology - a body of tools capable of discovering and analyzing patterns in data so that past behavior can be used to forecast likely future behavior.

proprietary- describes a technology or product that is owned exclusively by a single company that carefully guards knowledge about the technology or the product's inner workings.

queue- a line of people or things waiting to be handled, usually in sequential order starting at the beginning or top of the line or sequence.

real time - a level of computer responsiveness that a user senses as sufficiently immediate.

sales automation software - a type of program that automates business tasks such as inventory control, sales processing, and tracking of customer interactions,as well as analyzing sales forecasts and performance.

text-to-speech(TTS) - a type of speech synthesis application that is used to create a spoken sound version of the text in a computer document, such as a help file ora Web page.

unified messaging (sometimes referred to as the unified messaging system or UMS)- the handling of voice, fax, and regular text messages as objects in a single mailbox that a user can access either with a regular e-mail client or by telephone.

virtual call center - a call center in which the organization's representatives are geographically dispersed, rather than being situated at work stations in a building operated by the organization. Virtual call center employees may be situated in groups in a number of smaller centers, but most often they work from their own homes.

VoIP(voice over IP - that is, voice delivered using the Internet Protocol) -a term used in IP telephony for a set of facilities for managing the delivery of voice information using the Internet Protocol (IP).

voice portal (sometimes referred to as a vortal) - a Web site or other service that a user can reach by telephone for information such as weather, sport scores, or stock quotes.

Web analytics - the process of analyzing the behavior of visitors to a website. The use of Web analytics is said to enable a business to attract more visitors, retain or attract new customers for goods or services, or to increase the dollar volume each customer spends.

Web self-service - a version of electronic support (e-support) that allows customers and employees to access information and perform routine tasks over the Internet, without requiring any interaction with a representative of an enterprise.

This was last updated in March 2007
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