Your Complete Guide to Call Center Acronyms and Abbreviations

There’s no end to the alphabet soup in the world of contact centers. Whether you work in sales or service, this handy guide to call center acronyms will help you understand all the jargon. Use the list below as a quick reference on call center acronyms that span everything from TCPA compliance matters to business-critical call center KPIs.

Call Center Acronyms: A-C

ACD – Automatic Call Distribution: A telephony system that distributes incoming calls to the most suitable agent in a call center, based on predefined criteria such as the agent’s skill, workload, and availability. (See more on skills-based routing, or SBR, below.)

ACW – After Call Work: The tasks completed by call center agents after ending a call, such as updating customer records, sending emails, or making necessary outbound calls.

AHT – Average Handle Time: The average duration of one transaction, typically measured from the customer’s initiation of the call and including any hold time, talk time, and related tasks that follow the interaction.

AI – Artificial Intelligence: The capability of a machine or computer program to mimic intelligent human behavior or learn from data inputs, often used in call centers to automate simple tasks or analyze customer behavior.

API – Application Programming Interface: A set of rules or protocols for building software and applications. APIs allow different software systems to communicate and share data with each other.

ASR – Automatic Speech Recognition: Technology that converts spoken language into written text. This can be used in call centers to transcribe calls, automate responses, or direct calls based on voice commands.

ATA – Average Time of Abandonment: The average time a customer waits on hold before they hang up or abandon the call.

ATDS – Automatic Telephone Dialing System: An Automatic Telephone Dialing System refers to equipment capable of storing or generating telephone numbers and dialing them using a random or sequential number generator. It is prohibited to use an ATDS to contact cell phones with pre-recorded messages unless the recipient has provided and not revoked consent to receive such calls or texts. The legal definition of ATDS had long been hotly contested in the courts, before the landmark 2021 decision in the Supreme Court case of Facebook v. Duguid.

ATT – Average Talk Time: The average amount of time a call center agent spends talking to customers. This is often used as a performance metric in call centers, helping decision-makers and managers understand what they’re getting in exchange for one of their biggest contact center costs—payroll.

BCP – Business Continuity Planning: A proactive planning process that ensures a company’s critical business functions will continue to operate or recover to an operational state in a reasonably short period following a disruption. Having the right contact center software plays a key role in the BCP process.

BI – Business Intelligence: The strategies and technologies used by enterprises for data analysis of business information, and includes a wide variety of applications, practices, and tools for the collection, integration, analysis, and presentation of business information.

BPO – Business Process Outsourcing: The practice of hiring another company to handle business activities for you, which can include customer service, sales, or technical support.

CCaaS – Contact Center as a Service: A cloud-based solution that allows companies to use the software provided by a vendor to manage their customer interactions via a connection to the cloud. Learn more about the difference between cloud-based solutions and on-premise software.

CEM – Customer Experience Management: The practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.

CPA – Cost per Acquisition: The total cost of acquiring a new customer, including all sales and marketing expenses.

CPL – Cost per Lead: A marketing metric that measures the amount of money spent to acquire a single lead from marketing activities.

CRM – Customer Relationship Management: A strategy or software system designed to manage a company’s interactions with its customers, including capturing, storing, and analyzing customer and prospect data.

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CMS – Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Systems: The federal agency within the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that administers the nation’s major healthcare programs. This organization also produces guidelines (see: MCMG below) that govern health insurance marketing compliance.

CSAT – Customer Satisfaction Score: A measurement that captures how satisfied a customer is with a particular product, service, or interaction.

CSR/CSA – Customer Service Representative or Assistant: Individuals who interact with customers on behalf of the company, providing information about products and services, taking orders, responding to customer complaints, and processing returns.

CX – Customer Experience: The perception a customer has of their interactions with a company, encompassing all aspects of a customer’s experience from initial contact to the end of their journey.

Call Center Acronyms: D-F

DID – Direct Inward Dialing: A service that allows a company to assign individual phone numbers to each person within its PBX system without requiring a physical line for each connection. For outbound call centers managing the health of your DID numbers or caller IDs is crucial to maintaining a high contact rate and driving conversions.

DNC – Do Not Call: Refers to a list or registry of phone numbers from consumers who have expressed their preference to limit the telemarketing calls they receive. It may also refer to the status of a prospect when they no longer wish to receive calls or texts. DNC compliance, scrubbing, and management are an important part of overall TCPA compliance.

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ESAT – Employee Satisfaction Score: A metric used to measure the happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment of employees at work. ESAT scores can play a role in combating call center agent burnout.

EWT – Expected Wait Time: The time a customer is expected to wait in a queue before they are served or attended to.

FCC – Federal Communications Commission: The FCC is a government agency that protects consumers against abusive practices by businesses that use telecommunications as a means of conducting their operations.

FCR – First Call Resolution: A call center metric that measures the percentage of calls that the agent resolves without having to call the customer back or escalate the issue.

FCRR – First Call Resolution Rate: The rate at which customer calls are resolved on the first interaction without the need for a follow-up.

FTC – Federal Trade Commission: The U.S. government agency whose main goals are to promote consumer protection, combat fraud, and eliminate anticompetitive business practices.

Call Center Acronyms: I-P

IVA – Intelligent Virtual Agent: An Intelligent Virtual Agent (IVA) is a type of artificial intelligence that has the capability to interact with humans through natural language processing and dialogue. It was developed to supplement human customer service representatives in customer-facing roles, such as call centers, and represents a marked improvement on older voice-recognizing tech like interactive voice response (IVR).

IVR – Interactive Voice Response: A technology that allows a computer to interact with customers through the use of voice and touch-tone telephone keypad input. Learn more about the similarities and key differences between IVA and IVR.

KM – Knowledge Management: The process of capturing, developing, sharing, and using organizational knowledge to improve business performance and learning.

KPI – Key Performance Indicator: A measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives.

MCMG – Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines: These annual guidelines set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service set rules for marketers and sales teams in the health insurance space, including how they’re able to compliantly contact prospects and customers during the crucial Annual and Open Enrollment Periods.

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MIA – Most Idle Agent: In a call center, the agent who has been idle (waiting for a call) the longest.

NLP – Natural Language Processing: A field of artificial intelligence that focuses on the interaction between computers and humans through natural language. The goal of NLP is to read, decipher, understand, and make sense of human language in a valuable way. NLP is essential to conversational AI technology, which itself is central to contact center solutions like IVA software.

NPRM – Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: A public notice issued by a government agency, such as the FCC or FTC, when it wishes to add, remove, or modify a regulation. A subsequent FNPRM (Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) provides an opportunity for additional comments on related proposals.

OPA – Off-Phone Activity: Any task performed by a call center agent that does not involve direct interaction with a customer over the phone. Examples include responding to emails, filling out forms, and attending meetings.

PBX – Private Branch Exchange: A PBX is a private telephone network used within a company or organization, allowing users to communicate internally (within their company) and externally (with the outside world) using different communication channels like Voice over IP, ISDN, or analog.

PCP – Post-Call Processing: The work that an agent completes after a call, such as updating records, logging the call, and any follow-up tasks needed.

PEWC – Prior Express Written Consent: PEWC refers to an agreement, either written or oral, where consent is clearly given to receive calls at a specific phone number. It requires the recipient’s written or electronic signature, which can be a signed document or an electronic affirmation like a button. It is a requirement in some jurisdictions for certain types of commercial or automated calls or texts, where the caller must obtain the receiver’s explicit permission in writing before making the communication.

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Call Center Acronyms: Q-S

QA – Quality Assurance: A process or set of processes used to measure and assure the quality of a product or service. In a call center, it may involve reviewing call recordings, monitoring agent performance, and providing feedback for improvement. Increasingly, sales QA in outbound contact centers is powered by AI-based QA solutions.

QM – Quality Management: The act of overseeing all activities and tasks needed to maintain a desired level of excellence in a business and its operations, including quality control, quality assurance, and quality improvement.

QoS – Quality of Service: A measure of the performance of a service, such as a telephony or computer network service, and the degree to which it meets the agreed requirements or expectations.

ROI – Return on Investment: A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency or profitability of an investment, calculated by dividing net profit by the cost of the investment.

SA – Speech Analytics: The process of analyzing recorded calls to gather customer information to improve communication and future interaction. This is achieved by spotting patterns and trends in the calls. AI-powered QA tools like those mentioned above (see: Quality Assurance) can provide automated speech analytics.

SaaS – Software as a Service: A software distribution model in which a third-party provider hosts applications and makes them available to customers over the internet.

SBR – Skills-Based Routing: A call-assignment strategy used in call centers to assign incoming calls to the most suitable agent, instead of simply choosing the next available agent. Contact center software solutions like Convoso offer skills-based routing tools that simplify the task of getting the right agents on the phone with the right leads.

SIP – Session Initiation Protocol: A communication protocol used for initiating, maintaining, modifying, and terminating real-time sessions that involve video, voice, messaging, and other communications applications and services.

SFA – Salesforce Automation: The use of software to automate the business tasks of sales, including order processing, contact management, information sharing, inventory monitoring and control, order tracking, customer management, sales forecast analysis, and even employee performance evaluation. Salesforce automation goes hand in hand with contact center automation.

SLA – Service-Level Agreement: A contract between a service provider and a customer that specifies the level and type of service the provider will offer, usually with specific metrics for response times and availability.

SMS – Short Message Service: A text messaging service component of most telephone, Internet, and mobile device systems that uses standardized communication protocols to allow mobile devices to exchange short text messages.

STIR/SHAKEN – Secure Telephony Identity Revisited/Secure Handling of Asserted information using toKENs: A suite of protocols and procedures intended to combat caller ID spoofing on public telephone networks. The implementation of STIR/SHAKEN in recent years is believed to be in part responsible for the rise in call blocking and flagging issues faced by many outbound contact centers, lead generators, and sales teams.

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Call Center Acronyms: T-W

TCO – Total Cost of Ownership: A financial estimate intended to help buyers and owners determine the direct and indirect costs of a product or system, typically used in computing and software systems.

TCPA – Telephone Consumer Protection Act: A U.S. law enacted in 1991 designed to stop the increasing number of telemarketing calls and certain types of phone solicitation. The TCPA restricts usage of pre-recorded telemarketing calls, and Automated Telephone Dialing Systems (ADTS). It forbids call centers from making outbound sales calls, sending texts, or broadcasting pre-recorded messages without the expressed consent of the consumer.

TPMO – Third-Party Marketing Organizations: TPMO refers to an organization or individual, including independent agents and brokers, who are engaged in lead generation, marketing, sales, and enrollment-related activities within the enrollment process. They are required to submit their marketing materials directly to the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for review and approval. 

TRACED Act – Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act: A U.S. law enacted in 2019 to deter criminal robocall violations and improve enforcement of such violations. The law grants greater authority to the FCC and law enforcement agencies to prosecute fraudulent robocallers, aiming to combat deceptive caller IDs and mitigate the impact of robocalls. Ultimately, this has led to the call blocking and flagging issues experienced by many contact centers.

TSA – Telephone Solicitation Act: The Telephone Solicitation Act (TSA) covers telemarketing calls made with a system that automatically dials numbers or plays a recorded message when a call is connected. This definition is broader than the one given in Facebook v. Duguid (2021), and applies to B2B marketing in addition to consumer telemarketing. States passing legislation to strengthen consumer protections for their residents have begun passing their own Telephone Solicitation Acts, for example the Florida Telephone Solicitation Act (FTSA) or the Oklahoma Telephone Solicitation Act (OTSA). Note that some related state legislations are named otherwise, such as Maryland’s “Stop the Spam Calls Act of 2023.”

TSR – Telephone Sales Rule: A regulation enacted by the FTC that stipulates the specific conduct and practices telemarketers must abide by when making a telemarketing call. The TSR requires telemarketers to provide specific disclosures, prohibits misrepresentations, sets limits on call times, prevents calls to consumers who have opted out, and imposes payment restrictions for certain goods and services.

WFM – Workforce Management: An integrated set of processes that a company uses to optimize the productivity of its employees, which involves effectively forecasting labor requirements and creating and managing staff schedules to accomplish specific tasks on a day-to-day and hour-to-hour basis.

WFO – Workforce Optimization: A business strategy that integrates contact center technologies to capture, analyze, and improve the performance and productivity of agents, streamline processes, and improve customer interactions.

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