Outsourcing Glossary A-D


Abandoned Call
The caller hangs up before the call is answered. Also known as a Lost Call.

Agent Out Call
An outbound call made by an agent.

Agent Status
Telephone transmission or switching that is not digital. Signals are analogous to the original signal.

The person who handles incoming and outgoing calls. Also commonly known as customer service representative (CSR), telephone sales or service representative (TSR), customer service professional, operator and team member etc.

Aggregators are Web companies such as Yahoo Inc. that combine content or applications from multiple online sources. Recently, a new generation of aggregators has been reselling a potpourri of information to other Web sites and to corporations that operate external or intranet Web sites. Some analysts call this reselling process “syndication.”

A recorded message played to callers.

Application controls
Refer to the transactions and data relating to each computer-based application system and are therefore specific to each such application. The objectives of application controls, which may be manual, or programmed, are to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the records and the validity of the entries made therein resulting from both manual and programmed processing. Examples of application controls include data input validation, agreement of batch totals and encryption of data transmitted.

Application development review
An evaluation of an application system under development which considers matters such as: appropriate controls are designed into the system; the application will process information in a complete, accurate and reliable manner; the application will function as intended; the application will function in compliance with any applicable statutory provisions; the system is developed in compliance with the established systems development life cycle process

Application Service Provider (ASP)
An ASP is a company that rents applications and related services over the Internet. Examples include email, payroll processing and ERP applications.


Backsourcing is the expiration or termination of an outsourcing arrangement and the recapture in-house of the outsourced function.

Base Staff
The minimum number of agents required to achieve service level and response time objectives for a given period of time. Calculations assume that agents will be in their seat for the entire period of time. Schedules must therefore add in extra people to accommodate breaks, absenteeism and other factors that will keep agents from the phones. It is also known as Seated Agents.

Beep Tone
An audible notification that a call is being monitored.

A standardized task to test the capabilities of devices against each other. In quality terms, benchmarking is comparing products, services and processes with those of other organizations, to identify new ideas and improvement opportunities.

Best in Class
A benchmarking term identifying organizations that outperform all others in a specified category.

Best Practices
Best Practices are those practices and procedures, followed regularly that reflect the wisdom and experience at leading-edge companies. The collection, interpretation and assembly, and re-definition and updating of best practices has been historically performed by management consultants from working in many industries and analyzing common threads.

Blocked Call
A call that cannot be connected immediately because no circuit is available, or the ACD is programmed to block calls from entering the queue when the queue backs up beyond a defined threshold.

See Business Process Outsourcing

A general term applied to new technologies such as cable modems that allow fast access to the Internet and other online services.

Buddy System
A system that teams up a new employee with an experienced employee so skills can be passed on over an extended period.

Business Intelligence (BI)
Technology that attempts to close the time gap between accounting statements and market information. BI software systems enable management to pull up the latest data about the company’s performance. In the coming era of e-commerce, with hook ups among manufacturers, distributors, retailers and customers, such systems have the potential to offer financial data updated by the hour.

Business Process
Business Process means a sequence of defined steps necessary to achieve a business objective. Business objectives can include any business operation, including product design, marketing, sales, finance, accounting, manufacturing, logistics, supply chain management, customer relationship management and other special business relationships.

Business Process Outsourcing
Occurs when an organization turns over the management and optimization of a business function to a third party that conducts the activity based on a set of predetermined performance metrics. A BPO vendor manages people and processes, while traditional outsourcers focus on life cycle management and hardware uptime.

Typically, companies that are looking at business process outsourcing are hoping to achieve cost savings by handing the work to a third-party that can take advantage of economies of scale by doing the same work for many companies. Or perhaps the cost savings can be achieved because labor costs are lower due to different costs of living in different countries. (See Labor arbitrage)

Bricks and clicks
Bricks and clicks is a business strategy or business model in e-commerce in which a company attempts to integrate both online and physical presences. It is also known as Click-and-mortar or clicks-and-bricks.

Business to Business (B2B)
Business conducted between companies, rather than between a company and individual consumers.

A broker is a company that facilitates transactions between buyers and sellers.

Types of Brokers:

    Buy/Sell Fulfillment – A corporation that helps consumers place buy and sell orders.
    Virtual Mall – A company that helps consumers buy from a variety of stores.
    Metamediary – A firm that offers customers access to a variety of stores and provides them with transaction services, such as financial services.
    Bounty – An intermediary that offers a fee to locate a person, place, or idea.
    Search Agent – A company that helps consumers compare different stores.

Business Transformation Outsourcing (BTO)


Call Blending 
Combines traditionally separate inbound and outbound agent groups into one group of agents responsible for handling both inbound and outbound contacts. This system is capable of automatically putting agents who are making outbound calls into the inbound mode and vice versa when the incoming call load changes.

Call Center
A functional area within an organization or an outsourced, separate facility that exists solely to answer inbound or place outbound telephone calls; usually a sophisticated voice operations center that provides a full range of high-volume, inbound or outbound call-handling services, including customer support, operator services, directory assistance, multilingual customer support, credit services, card services, inbound and outbound telemarketing, interactive voice response and web-based services.

Contact Center
A term that generally refers to multi-channel service centers, information lines, help desks or customer reservation centers, regardless of how they are organized or what types of transactions they handle.

Call Control Variables
The set of criteria the ACD uses to process calls. This can include routing criteria, overflow parameters, recorded announcements and timing thresholds.

Call Detail Recording
Another term for historical reports.

Call Forcing
An ACD feature that automatically delivers calls to agents who are available to take calls. A notification such as a beep occurs to inform them that a call has arrived; agents are not required to press a button to answer calls.

Call In Queue
A real-time report that refers to the number of call received by the ACD system but not yet connected to an agent.

Call Load
(Average Talk Time + Average After-Call Work) x call volume. Also referred to as Work Load.

A company that provides telecommunications circuits. Carriers include both local telephone companies and long distance providers.

A switching service provided by a public telephone operator. Alternative to a PABX or ACD. See also hosted VoIP

A transmission path between two points in a network.

Client/Server Architecture
A network of computers that share capabilities and devices.

Computer Simulation
A computer technique that predicts the outcome of various events in the future, given variables. Often simulation is the only way to predict outcomes when there are many variables.

Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)
Refers to the linkage of a telephone switch (ACD, PABX) and computer systems to enhance call processing.

Conditional Routing
The capability of the ACD to route calls based on current conditions. It is based on “if-then” programming statements. For example, “if the number of calls in group 1 exceeds 20 and there is at least 2 agents in group two, then route the calls to group two.”

A combination of technologies, usually a mix of computers, telecommunications, and television. Some examples are set-top boxes that allow consumers to watch television and surf the net, and voice phone call made over the Internet.

Cost Per Call
Total costs divided by total calls for a given period of time period.

Customer Contact Management System (CCMS)
Software that assists Agents in customer relationship management. Also known as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Complex software used by big companies to improve customer experience. Each stage of the customer dealings with a company are logged on the computer system, so all staff are fully informed about each client’s accumulated experience.


Database Call Handling
A CTI application, where the ACD works in sync with the database computer to process calls, based on information in the database. For example, the prioritizing of calls based on the customer who is calling.

This will allow licensed media companies to send new television services such as textual news and weather bulletins over the airwaves.

These methods aim to present data in such a way that it provides useful information for decision-makers.

Data warehousing
This technology collates and stores data in such a way that management can easily access it.

Delay Announcements
Recorded announcements that may inform clients to their progress in the queue, services available etc. In some systems, delay announcements are provided through recorded announcements routes (RANs).