Customer Service Glossary: 38 Common Terms, Definitions & Jargon

Ishita Nigam

February 12, 202411 min read

Share this Article

To succeed in the dynamic customer support industry, one needs to be on top of the game by staying abreast with industry verbiage. That’s where the customer service glossary becomes an indispensable tool and resource for customer service professionals, familiarizing them with new and old terms, definitions and jargon.  

Besides a customer service mindset and essential customer service qualities, a solid glossary arms agents with the knowledge and skills to transverse daily customer conversations and always stay ahead of their game. 

44 Customer service terms from A to Z 

Below is an easy-to-read customer service glossary with 38 common terms with definitions, explanations and reading resources. Go through them closely or jump to the ones that interest you:  

1. Agent reply template 

It is a standard response that companies provide their agents to reduce response time. This template contains answers to a set of frequently asked questions by customers and recommended greeting formats tailored for different customer service channels - phone, email and chat.  

2. Average handle time (AHT) 

Average handle time or AHT refers to the average duration of a customer call interaction from the time a customer initiates a phone call to the time of final resolution — which may happen either during the call or later. AHT is a key customer service metric that directly impacts customer satisfaction. 


3. Average speed of answer (ASA) 

Average Speed of Answer is a customer service metric that measures the average time it takes for customer service representatives to answer incoming calls or respond to customer inquiries. ASA provides insights into the efficiency of a call center by indicating the average wait time for customers before their calls are answered. A lower ASA generally reflects quicker response times and improved customer service


4. Benchmarking 

Benchmarking compares an agent's or team’s performance against themselves, peers or competitors. It helps develop performance improvement plans for individuals and teams and encourages healthy competition. 

Dive Deeper: What Is Competitive Benchmarking & How to Get Started  

5. Business hours 

Business hours specify the days and timings when customer service agents are available to connect with customers. Customers in some industries expect 24x7 support. However, you can decide your contact center’s business hours after factoring in variables like occupancy, shrinkage and schedule adherence. 

6. Business process outsourcing 

This process involves assigning the responsibility for a customer service department to an external agency. Usually, growing businesses tie up with external agencies to set up a business process outsourcing (BPO) unit to meet the burgeoning customer queries.  

BPOs are of four different types: 

  • Offshore: Anywhere in the world with lower labor and setup expenses 

  • Onshore: In the same country 

  • Nearshore: In a neighboring country 

  • Virtual or online  

7. Call deflection 

Call deflection is a strategy to reroute some of your customer support calls to other digital channels like SMS, live chat, email or messaging platforms like WhatsApp. Call deflection, contrary to its name, isn't about avoiding customer calls. Instead, it's a strategic redirection.  

Call deflection from Voice to WhatsApp in Sprinklr Service

8. Call recording 

Call recording is a feature that helps your organization record all incoming and outgoing calls without any external effort. Saved call recordings can help you analyze an agent's performance over time. Call recordings could also be used by customers and agents alike for reference.  

Learn More: Your Complete Guide to Call Management 

7. Canned response 

Robust customer service software offers canned responses to save agents’ response time. These give agents access to reply templates through keywords. When your agent types in the keyword(s), the preset answer that can be sent to customers after customization displays on the screen. 

AI-recommended canned responses in Sprinklr Service Agent Console

8. Change management 

It is the process of monitoring changes in the team, procedures, software or hardware and customer support techniques. Effective change management involves deploying tools and techniques to ensure productivity and efficiency are not affected. 

Do It Like a Pro: Change Management for Contact Centers Made Easy

9. Contact center 

A contact center is a specialized department within a company that handles customer interactions on various contact center channels. Contact centers are set up to deliver timely and personalized customer service on all communication channels by resolving customer queries, troubleshooting issues and keeping customers engaged with the brand. 

Curious to learn more? Read Types of Contact Centers 

10. Contact center compliance 

Contact center compliance embodies the unwavering commitment to aligning operations with the stringent regulations established by either governing bodies or an organization's internal policies. It represents the state of consistently adhering to applicable laws and industry standards, ensuring the ethical and lawful conduct of contact center operations. 

11. Conversational AI 

Conversational AI is a modern customer service technology capable of recognizing text and speech inputs given by customers and addressing them like a human agent. Chatbots and voice bots are examples of conversational AI in customer service. They can help the customer self-resolve routine queries such as those related to order management, authentication and payment processing. 

A conversational AI chatbot by Sprinklr helps a user upgrade wireless plan

12. Customer community 

It is an online forum brands develop to engage customers and facilitate quicker query resolution. Customers can join the forum and pose their questions to other customers or support staff. Community forums are also used to: 

  • Gather customer feedback: Customers can post product and service reviews on the forum groups. 

  • Share product information: Brands can share product ideas or demos at a beta stage to gather early feedback or lock pre-sales. 

  • Ask questions or gather information: Customers can ask questions and receive answers from fellow participants and customers who have used the product before. 

  • Make announcements: Forums can be used to announce upcoming launches, deals, discounts or other exclusive information to build customer loyalty

Editor’s Pick: How to Build an Online Customer Community in 2024  

13. Customer churn 

It is the number of customers who, dissatisfied with poor customer service or unsatisfactory customer experience, abandon your company through unsubscription, service discontinuation or product returns. It indicates that you need to improve customer support. 

Read More: 7 Proven Ways to Reduce Customer Churn Rate  

14. Customer effort score (CES) 

CES is a customer experience metric that gauges the effort that goes into getting a customer question answered, getting an issue resolved or getting access to required assistance. The number of emails a customer sent to get assistance and their average waiting time indicates how much they struggled to get customer support. 


15. Customer expectations 

These are the assumptions customers make about your products and services. They are your customer’s perception of each interaction before it occurs. Their past experiences and reviews received from other customers shape their expectations. Your customers have expectations mainly towards waiting and resolution times, ease of reaching out to your agents or your presence across multiple channels. 

16. Customer experience 

A customer’s relationship with your company is formed over time, and multiple interactions with your company are based on their experience. Regularly measuring customer experience can assist you in enhancing your performance and exceeding customer expectations. Specialized tools like unified CXM software can make the task easier for your teams.  

17. Customer feedback 

Customer’s real-time opinion about your products and services or the interaction with your agents is their feedback. Customer feedback works in loops, beginning with receiving a customer’s review of your services and ending with your response to them. One of the ways to collect customer feedback is via customer surveys. 

Interesting Read: How to Measure Customer Satisfaction Without Surveys 

18. Customer journey  

The customer journey is the sum total of all the interactions a customer has with a brand before, during, and after a purchase. A smooth, effortless customer journey can ensure a prospect converts into a customer in the quickest time possible.  

19. Customer journey mapping 

Marketers and analysts map the customer journey across various customer touchpoints to identify frustration and friction and work toward removing it through improvements in products, services, people and processes. This way, customer journey mapping helps boost customer experience and customer satisfaction scores. 

20. Customer lifetime value (CLV) 

Customer lifetime value or CLV denotes the expected revenue that a customer may generate during the relationship duration with your company. It can be calculated as follows: 


21. Customer satisfaction (CSAT) 

Customer satisfaction (CSAT) measures how happy customers are with your products/services and can be evaluated through customer surveys, particularly CSAT surveys, explained in the next point. 

A sample CSAT survey by Sprinklr-s survey builder

22. Customer satisfaction survey 

CSAT surveys comprise a series of questions about how happy the customers are with your service on a scale of one to ten or one to five. Questions can cover the product or service quality and speed. This survey clearly shows where you stand and how you can improve. 

11 Proven customer service tips to master

22. Customer self-service 

Customer self-service helps customers find answers independently through FAQ chatbots, knowledge bases, community forums or any product-related documentation. It helps save agents’ caseloads and improves customer satisfaction.

💡Pro Tip: To reduce your contact volume even further, leverage AI self-service that’s more accurate, personalized and real-time than traditional self-service. It enables customers to look up information more easily and surfaces the right responses in the first go, reducing customer effort scores and delivering instant gratification.

Sprinklr's AI-powered chatbots detect intent switch within customer conversations

23. Customer service channels 

Customer service channels refer to the various touchpoints where customers can reach your agents and request assistance, for example, by phone, email, chat or social media. Choose your customer service channels wisely, ensuring consistent, on-brand responses via omnichannel customer service.

24. Escalation 

In customer service, escalation refers to a situation where a support agent must deal with a frustrated or angry customer who, in turn, wants to get in touch with a senior agent to resolve their issue.  

25. Escalation management 

Escalation management is the process of identifying customer issues that could not be resolved at the first point of contact and then going on to prioritize and resolve them in the best possible manner. 

26. First contact resolution 

First contact resolution measures the number of customer queries resolved in the first attempt made by the customer to reach your support team. 

Find the full list of contact center metrics here. 

27. First response time 

Also known as first reply time, it denotes the time between receiving a query and an agent responding. The lower the first response time, the higher the customer satisfaction.  

28. Interactive voice response (IVR) 

Interactive voice response or IVR, is an automated phone technology that enables users to access information and troubleshoot basic issues through a set of pre-recorded menu options — without having to interact with a live agent. A well-designed IVR system empowers customers to help themselves around the clock without waiting in queues.   

29. Knowledge base 

A knowledge base is a centralized database of knowledge about a specific domain or topic. A comprehensive resource where information, documentation, articles, guides and other relevant content are stored and easily accessible to users. 

Sprinklr Knowledge Base

30. Multichannel support 

It refers to customer support delivered via multiple channels like phone, emails, live chat, text messages, social media feeds, direct messages or community forums. 

Read More: Multichannel Contact Center  

31. Net promoter score (NPS) 

NPS is a metric to measure customer loyalty towards a brand. It uses survey tools to gather customer feedback for a service by asking them how likely they are to recommend this service to someone else. The scale used is usually one to ten. A higher NPS indicates favorable business growth. 

Learn More: How to Improve the Net Promoter Score of Your Brand 

32. Quality assurance 

This process helps companies determine customer support performance and take measures to maintain their standard. Some quality assurance techniques include monitoring customer interactions over all channels and gathering feedback in real time.  

33. Self-service ratio 

This ratio compares the number of customer queries resolved through self-service options, like help centers, blog posts, or FAQs, with the number of tickets submitted to agents. It denotes how quickly customers can resolve queries on their own. 

34. Service level agreements (SLAs) 

It is a document of standards or targets a company decides, keeping customer feedback and expectations in mind. SLAs assist with performance tracking and quality assurance.  

35. Contact center operations  

Contact center operations involve optimizing processes, introducing technologies, and providing data-backed insights and recommendations to improve a company's overall customer service strategy. This could mean the introduction of real-time performance monitoring, adding new tools that automate or augment existing tasks, or even just helping teams prioritize between multiple activities.   

36. Ticket 

It refers to the customer query that the service department receives. It indicates the beginning of a customer-agent interaction. 

37. Ticket routing 

This process helps determine which agent should handle what customer query type. A few facts decide the routing – agent skillset and number of tickets each agent handles within a period. Routing helps companies organize a high-ticket volume daily. 

38. Shrinkage  

Call center shrinkage represents the difference between your agents' scheduled hours and the productive hours they spend interacting with customers. Think of it as the unavoidable gaps in time when your agents are not actively handling calls. These gaps can occur owing to varied reasons, such as breaks, meetings, training sessions or even unplanned absenteeism. 

Making customer service simpler with Sprinklr 

If managing customer queries isn’t tricky enough, the typical terms and jargon make the job more challenging. Incorporate this customer service glossary in your agent training resources and give your teammates a solid head start on their job. 

Agent coaching and training build the foundation for a productive team that embodies customer-centric values and brings their best professional and personal self to their workstation. With a customer support solution like Sprinklr Service, you can leverage ongoing live coaching with AI scoring and scorecards. Transform your team into super performers and start with a free trial of Sprinklr.

Share this Article

Related Topics

What is Contact Center Technology [Types + Trends]How to Improve Customer Service with Digital TransformationCustomer Journey vs. Customer Experience: Key Differences