Customer Service Dictionary

Customer Service Dictionary of the Most Common Customer Support Terms

Ever wonder why customer service reps are also called agents? It's because support reps are actually a lot like secret agents — they're mysterious, they fight for [customer] justice, and they have their own special lingo. Are they actually secret agents? We'll never tell. But we will let you in on the special vocabulary support agents share. So next time you want to lead that double life, check out this handy Glossary of Customer Service Terms. Now you can fight crime resolve customer issues with flair.

Agent collision

Clashing reps? Two agents enter, only one leaves? Nope — this is what happens when another agent is viewing and/or updating the same ticket. Having a helpdesk solution in place helps you avoid agent collision and prevent duplication from inadvertent simultaneous ticket updates.

Agent console

This is your customer service home screen, or what your agents see when they log in. The agent console lets you access settings and manage tickets. See list of features offered by Salesforce’s Agent Console .

Application program interface (API)

A set of tools and protocols for building and customising software applications. A good API makes it easier to develop a program by providing all the building blocks. A programmer then puts the blocks together.

Average handle time (AHT)

The average time an agent takes to handle and resolve a case from end to end. AHT is measured from the customer's initiation of the call or ticket and includes any hold time, talk time, and related tasks.


Not the creepy-crawly things... This term refers to issues with the product that require a little help from engineering to fix the code.

Call centre

A physical location where an organisation handles a high volume of customer and other telephone calls, usually with some amount of computer automation. More common today, though, are contact centres, featuring multi-channel support, rather than just telephony.

Case priority

A priority level assigned to a case to determine urgency and how quickly it should be addressed by a rep.

Computer-telephony integration (CTI)

This refers to using computers to manage telephone calls. When you call a business, for example, and hear a computerised list of options to direct your phone call to the right department. "Please listen as our menu items have changed…" Wah, wah.

Contact centre

A central point in a company from which all customer contacts are managed. Contact centres typically include a call centre, plus resources for other types of customer contact as well, like email, social media, postal mail, web inquiries, in-store, and online chats.

Customer experience

The sum of all the individual customer touchpoints a company has with a customer over the lifecycle of their relationship.

Customer satisfaction (CSAT)

A measure of the degree to which a product or service meets the customer's expectations. (Or more simply put: A way to measure how happy your customers are.)

Customer self-service (CSS)

An e-service that allows people to use technology to access information and perform routine tasks without the assistance of a customer service rep. CSS gives users 24-hour immediate access to information via Support Centres, portals, in-app messaging, and more.


The general social media hashtag for Customer Service. Join the conversation by adding #CustServ to your social posts. Example: @LeylaSeka : Agents should be well-versed in using Twitter to provide the best #CustServ

Customer Support/Service Agent (CSA)

A person whose role is to provide friendly service to internal and external customers. Evokes [rare] comparisons to 007. Also known as a customer service rep.

Customer Success Manager (CSM)

A person whose role is to provide proactive support to help customers optimise the use of a product or service. While this benefits the customer, it also helps the company with retention and optimisation.

End of life policy (EOL)

Less morbid than it sounds, this is a term used when a product is at the end of its useful life. When that happens (and a vendor stops selling it), customer service must decide when to stop supporting it.

First contact resolution (FCR)

Properly addressing the customer's need the first time he or she makes contact, eliminating the need for the customer to follow up with a second contact. High FCRs rule; low FCRs drool.


An online or physical place where a customer can access help for a specific problem. A helpdesk can be as simple as one person with a phone number, or a more complex team of people using software to analyse, resolve, and track the issues.

Issue tracking system (ITS)

A software application that allows a company to follow the progress of every problem until it's resolved. Issues (which can be anything from customer questions to technical bugs) can be tracked by priority, owner, or a customised criteria. Also known as a helpdesk ticketing system.

Key performance indicator (KPI)

Measurable values that demonstrate how effectively a team is achieving its objectives. In other words, KPIs are data-driven goals.

Knowledge base (KB)

A central repository for information. For customer service purposes, this is usually an online database of answers and information on a particular product or service. Knowledge bases are "self service," meaning customers can search for and find answers on their own, without the help of an agent or rep.

Net promoter score (NPS)

This is the same concept as CSAT, but concentrates specifically on whether or not the customer would recommend you to a friend. A basic calculation is to take the percentage of customers who are "promoters" and subtract the percentage who are "detractors."


Sometimes we all need a little help. That's where outsourcing comes in – engaging a third-party vendor to provide support for your customers on your behalf.


The running list of open tickets and cases that need attention from a customer support agent. Usually sorted chronologically and/or by priority.

Service level agreement (SLA)

An agreement describing the services a provider furnishes a customer within a given time period.

Software Development Kit (SDK)

A programming package that lets you develop applications for a specific platform. An SDK usually includes an API, plus various programming tools and documentation. Some companies offer a mobile SDK which lets you to embed a support module (with helpdesk browsing, ticket creation, and live chat) right into your native app.


Content that contains information on how to do something or how to solve an issue usually via a KB. Need some exemplars?

Support channel

A support channel is a way that customers reach out to you to get help. It could be email, phone, chat, web form, or even Facebook and Twitter.

Support/service plans

Different levels of support which have differing services, options, and price points.

Support Portal

A web page where customers can log in to create cases, view their case history and find solutions, used a self-service tool.

Talk time

The time a support agent spends talking to a customer to handle an issue over the phone. Fast talk times are generally desirable —but fast talk time averages accompanied by poor first call resolution rates are a sign that customer calls are not being answered correctly.

Time to resolution

The amount of time between the time the case is created and the time of the most recent resolution. This calculates on cases resolved during the time period specified in your report, no matter when they were created.


Every impression a customer has of an organisation. Touchpoints take place via advertising, product use, email, website, social media, and more. The sum of all touchpoints creates the customer experience.


The process of systematically trying to get to the root cause of an issue in order to solve it.

User error

Term used when a user or customer has made a mistake; the problem is user-driven, not product-driven. It's a nice thing to do.

Great. That’s all we have for right now. Do you feel like you got a handle on these essential #CustServ terms and lingo? Join in on the social conversation!


Questions? We’ll put you on the right path.

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