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Customer Service Blog


Customer Service Terms: The only glossary you will ever need

by Alex Mercado | March 06, 2019

If you are new to customer service you probably already realized that the industry has its own set of terms. Some of them are pretty straight forward but, others can seem like a whole other language.

To stop you from having to go to Google every time you come across any customer support jargon, we created a glossary of customer service terms for you. Hopefully, the only one you will ever need.


Learn definition highlighted in red in the dictionary


In this glossary: 

Don't want to scroll? You can download the whole glossary here.

Abandonment Rate

This refers to percentage of customers who hang up or end the communication before they're able to talk to someone in the customer service department. Monitor it carefully as it gives you a good indication of whether or not your wait times are so long that customers give up trying to reach you.


A member of the support team who is responsible for resolving customer requests.

Average Handling Time

The time it takes on average for one agent to help one customer and differs significantly between support channels and types of customer service.

Average Waiting Time (AWT)

The average time that it takes for a customer to be helped. In phone support, this is the time between a customer initiating a phone call, and the agent picking up on the other side.


The amount of unresolved customer support tickets.

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)

The practice of contracting another company to perform a process or part of a process for another business.

Call Center

A center set up to handle incoming and outgoing telephone calls for a company.

Canned Response

Predetermined responses to common question.

Case Resolutions

An important metric to view to get a helicopter view of your support operation. It tells you how many customer cases have been resolved.


Lines of communication available for your customers to get in touch with your company. It can be by phone, email, chat, social, etc.

Contact Center

A center set up to handle all incoming and outgoing communication channels for a company. From phone to email, chat, social, IM, apps and virtual reality.

Contact Rate

The amount of raised tickets divided by the amount of paid orders in a given period. If in the last week you had seven customers getting in touch and you sold 100 units; your contact rate for that week is 7%

Content Moderation

Monitoring and moderating user-generated content.

Customer Effort Score (CES)

Measures the amount of effort a customer has had to go through to resolve a case. It's measured by asking customers, on a five-point scale from "very difficult" to "very easy," how much effort was required from them. The lower you keep the score, the better.

Customer Experience (CX)

How customers perceive their interactions with your company, it reflects how they feel about your company and its offerings.

Customer Journey Mapping

Creating a visual representation of the process your customer goes through to reach a goal with your company.

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

Measures a customer's satisfaction with a specific part of the customer experience and can be tailored to the part of the experience you'd like to know more about. An example: How satisfied are you with the technical setup of your new device?

Customer Support Software

Software that enables you to manage, organize and track customer requests on one platform.

Data Warehouse

A non-physical space to centralize and store your data. This enables you to combine data from different sources and makes the process of using your data much more straightforward.


Directing tickets that require extra attention to a more senior agent.

First Contact Resolution (FCR)

FCR is the percentage of cases in which the customer's problem was solved within the first contact moment between company and customer.

First Response Time (FRT)

The time between the moment that a customer submits a case via email, ticket form, or social media, and the moment that a customer service representative replies to the customer.

Full-time Equivalent (FTE)

This refers to the hours worked by one employee on a full-time basis. For example, you employ 3 agents.

Agent A works 50 hr/week, Agent B works 40 hr/week, and Agent C works 10hr/week. In total, they work 100 hours per week.

A full-time employee works 40 hr/week. If you divided the 100 hr your agents work by 40 hrs, you get 2.5 FTE

In-app Support

Providing customer service to a user within the app they are currently using. Meaning is it not required for the user to exit the app and go through a different channel to reach your company.


Delegating a job to someone within the company.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

Automated voice that guides the caller through a set of choices to direct them to the correct department. The caller can either use keypad or voice for input.

Knowledge Base

An online library of everything there is to know about your product/service. A self-service solution for your customers and excellent training material for your agents.

Multichannel Support

Having multiple channels available for your customers to contact your company.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

The net promoter score is calculated on an 11-point scale. Customers are asked the following question: How likely are you to recommend our product/service to your family, friends, or colleagues? on an 11-point scale from 0 to 10.

Customers who answer between 0 and 6 are considered detractors. 7 to 8 are considered neutral, and 9 to 10 are considered brand promoters.

Net Sentiment Score

Sentiment analysis is used extensively in social media customer service. Most social media tools can automatically detect sentiments in posts, comments, tweets, etc.

In sentiment analysis, a '1' is assigned to a positive comment, '0' to a neutral comment, and '-1' to a negative comment.

Adding the scores up results in a single numerical value called 'Net sentiment score'. The higher you score above zero, the better your net sentiment score

Occupation Rate

Refers to how 'busy' a customer service employee is on average. It's used as an efficiency metric to gauge how efficient your staffing is compared to the number of incoming contacts they are handling.

Omnichannel Support

Being available for your customers on every channel they want to use to contact your company.


Delegating a job or a process to another company.

Overdue Ticket

A ticket not resolved on time according to the SLA.

Quality Assurance

The process of monitoring and maintaining the desired level of customer service.

Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA)

Part of the procedure of returning or getting a refund for a product. This authorization is usually approved if the product is defective or once the agent has exhausted all troubleshooting options.


It refers to customers who prefer to search for answers and solve their issues independently instead of getting in contact with your company.

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Defines the precise level of service that customers should expect to receive in quantifiable and measurable terms. Some examples:

Answer 100% of emails within 24 hours

Answer 80% of calls within 120 seconds

Social Media Support

Providing customer support through social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Subject Matter Expert

Members of the team with in-depth knowledge of your product or service. They are often the creators of your knowledge base content.


Every support issue that comes in generates a support ticket, regardless of whether the customer contacts your business over the phone, email, chat, social media, or any other channel.

Ticket volume

The number of tickets created regularly.

Tier 1

Made up of agents that provide basic support and troubleshooting.

Tier 2

Made up of agents that provide in-depth technical support.

Tier 3

Made up of agents that provide expert product/service support.

Tiered Support

The way your support center is organized to handle incoming tickets and escalations. It consists of 3 levels or tiers.


Any point of direct interaction between your brand and your customer.

Voice of the Customer (VoC)

Used to describe customer’s feedback, expectations, and preferences in regards to your product or service.



Now that you are an expert at customer service terms lets put them to good use. Read Customer Service Basics: The How-to Guide and start designing a customer service set up for your company.

Are you tired of scrolling up and down? Don't worry, we've got you covered. Download the whole glossary here.


You might also like: 

The 7 most common customer service outsourcing myths

Customer Service Advice: Making the most of your Startup's Budget

How to hire your first customer service representative

Alex Mercado

Alex Mercado

Alex works from Utrecht, which has been her home away from home for several years. Originally from Mexico, she enjoys creating content and listening to podcasts. In her spare time, she likes to cook Mexican food and play Mario Kart.

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