Customer experience has been on the rise during the last couple of years. From the traditional product-oriented businesses we’re moving towards customer understanding and customer-centric approaches.

Putting together a glossary for your company and adding it to your support handbook is the first step to clear communication. When everyone both within and outside your team speaks the same language, things go so much smoother.

What is customer service?

Customer service is the direct one-on-one interaction between a consumer making a purchase and a representative of the company that is selling it. Most retailers see this direct interaction as a critical factor in ensuring buyer satisfaction and encouraging repeat business.

Here are several customer service terms everyone should know;

1. Agent

An agent is the support team member who is assigned service tickets and responsible for resolving customer requests. Agents may also interact directly with customers to address service requests via communication channels such as phone, email, chat, and social media.

2. Agent experience

Agent experience refers to the quality of interactions between support team members and the company employing them. It determines how satisfied agents are with their work and career paths, and has an impact on both their interactions with customers and the company’s bottom line. It also refers to the tools and processes that enable support agents to not only provide the kind of support customers love, but avoid providing the kind of frustrating experiences customer hate.

3. Agent life cycle

An agent life cycle describes all of a customer support agent’s interaction with the company employing them, from the time of recruitment for the job through the end of the agent’s tenure. This encompasses the sourcing, screening, and hiring process as well as measuring and evaluating performance and developing career paths. For companies, the time and resources invested in the agent life cycle can have an impact on the quality of customer service, satisfaction with an individual interaction, and the lifetime value of a customer.

4. Benchmarking

Benchmarking is a comparison of agent or team performance against the performance of peers or competitors. It can also be used to compare the current and past performance of the same agent or team. Benchmarking helps in assessing a relative position versus the competition, and in developing plans to maintain or improve on that position.

5. Business hours

Business hours are the days and times that a company’s customers can access agents for support. Though customers may consider 24/7 support ideal, a company can set business hours based on regional demand by looking at its customer types, available support channels, and customer feedback. This data provides insights into a company’s optimal hours for agent staffing.

6. Business process outsourcing

Business process outsourcing, or BPO, involves assigning responsibility for a function or operation to an external party. A growing company can use this strategy to maintain service standards and meet an increased demand for support as its business expands. BPO options include onshore (same country), near shore (same hemisphere), offshore (any location in the world with lower labor costs), and virtual or home-based operations.

7. Business rules

Business rules refer to automations, triggers, and macros that automate operational workflows such as routing or escalating tickets to the right departments and agents.

8. Customer Advocacy

Customer advocacy is a specialized form of customer service in which companies focus on what is best for the customer. It is a change in a company’s culture that is supported by customer-focused customer service and marketing techniques.

9. Customer Analytics

Customer analytics is a process by which data from customer behavior is used to help make key business decisions via market segmentation and predictive analytics. Data is collected from various touch-points a customer has with the organization and then analyzed to give insights about consumer behavior. In today’s connected world where customers have immense power, it is extremely important for organizations to use analytics to get closer to the customer.

10. Customer Attrition Rate

It is the number of customers lost divided by the number at the start of the period and is typically expressed as a percentage (%) of all customers and on a monthly or annual basis. So, for the customer attrition rate you would divide the number of customers lost by the total number of customers at the start of the period. Customer Attrition rate is also the complement of Customer Retention rate. If a company has a 20% attrition rate it will have an 80% retention rate. It is an important variable to track in your business as it indicates how many new sales you have to make just to keep up with your losses. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine when a customer has left, especially in a retail environment but there are ways around this problem.

11. Customer Centric Organization

As the name suggests, Customer-centric organizations are ones, which have succeeded in keeping the customer at the center of their organization. They spend energy and effort on satisfying internal and external customers by first identifying customer needs, then establishing policies, procedures, and management and reward systems to support excellence in service delivery. They have moved beyond lip service and have re-oriented their operations, their decision making around the customer. This has resulted in increased customer satisfaction, higher advocacy along with higher profits.

12. Customer Charter

It is a document that sets the standards for a company regarding customer service. It is also known as a code of practice, which improves access to an organization’s service and promotes quality. A customer charter also helps employees too by clearly setting out services their organization provides.

13. Customer Engagement

Customer engagement is the engagement of customers with one another, with a company or a brand. The initiative for engagement can be either consumer- or company-led and the medium of engagement can be on or offline. Customer engagement can help organizations to understand their customers, their needs, and increase advocacy.

14. Customer Expectations

The perceptions that customers have when they contact an organization or service provider about the kind and level and quality of products and services they should receive. These expectations are a factor of customers’ own previous experience with the organization or the experience of their friends.

15. Customer Experience

Customers’ perception of their experience at various touch-points across their lifecycle with an organization. Please note that it is the “perception” of Customers and hence, is based on their experience of the product/service. There are 3 levels of Customer experience

Functional – Do you have what customers want?

Accessible – How easy it is for customers to do business with you?

Emotional – How do customers feel while doing business with you?

16. Customer Experience Management

The process of strategically managing a customer’s entire experience with a product or a company” Schmitt, 2003

The process of strategically managing a customer’s entire experience with a product or a company to meet business goals”: Genroe, 2005

17. Customer Experience Strategy

It is the strategy to achieve the desired level of Customer Experience. As per a survey, only 20% companies have a well defined Customer Experience Strategy. A detailed CE Strategy makes sure that every employee has the same understanding of desired Customer Experience. It acts as a guideline when managers face business decisions on a day-to-day basis.

18. Customer Feedback

Customers’ opinion about the product/service of an organization. It can be collected using surveys, or proactively listening to what customers are talking about on social media.

19. Customer Insight

An understanding of Customers’ behavior, an insight into why customers like/dislike a brand, why they prefer one brand over others, what influences their decisions, their pain points and their sweet spots. Organizations get customer insights by studying the behavior of their current customers as well as market research.

20. Customer Journey Mapping

It is the depiction of a customer’s journey with an organization. A customer journey map should include all touch-points that customers have with the organization. It helps in giving a holistic view of customers’ lifecycle and ensures that organizations deliver good Customer Experience to move forward in a Customer’s consideration set.

21. Customer Lifecycle

Customer life cycle is a term used to describe the progression of steps a customer goes through when considering, purchasing, using, and maintaining loyalty to a product or service.

22. Customer Lifetime Value

Customer lifetime value is a prediction of the net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer. Customer lifetime value is an important concept as it encourages firms to shift their focus from quarterly profits to the long-term health of their customer relationships. Customer lifetime value is an important number because it represents an upper limit on spending to acquire new customers.

23. Customer Loyalty

Customer loyalty is a measure of a customer’s likeliness to do repeat business with a company or brand. It is the result of customer satisfaction, positive customer experiences, and the overall value of the goods or services a customer receives from a business.

24. Customer Relationship Management

CRM is an overall strategy to help organizations learn more about their customers and their behavior. As a result, they can develop stronger, lasting relationships, which will benefit them as well as their customers. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software solutions helps to manage these relationships, using a combination of people, processes and technology. It helps businesses attain and retain happy customers.

25. Customer Retention

Customer retention is the act of keeping customers. There are many studies that show that keeping customers longer is much less expensive than acquiring new customers with some suggesting that it is up to ten times less expensive to keep a customer than acquire a new one. Customer retention is focused on ways to keep customers longer.

26. Customer Satisfaction Score

The cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion score, or CSAT as it’s often called, intends to mea­sure a customer’s sat­is­fac­tion with the ser­vice received.

27. Customer Satisfaction Survey

A survey conducted to measure the level of Customer satisfaction. It can be administered online, telephonic or face-to-face.

28. Downtime

It is the time when your service/product is unavailable to the customers due to a technical issue or maintenance.

29. Feature

A specific characteristic of your product or service that satisfies a certain requirement or need for a customer.

30. Feedback

A customer’s opinion of their experience with your company and how you could improve.

31. Feedback Loop

A process that entails gathering customer feedback, taking necessary action, and communicating the results back to the customer(s).

32. First Contact Resolution (FCR) Ratio

FCR is the measure of how many tickets/queries were resolved during the first contact made by the customer, without the need for additional messages or follow-ups. A good FCR is the mark of an efficient support team. A 75% FCR is a good indication of the customer support team’s efficiency.

33. First Response Time

First response time is the time elapsed between submission of a query by a customer and the first time a customer support agent replies to that query. It generally depends on the support mediums your organization has. Generally, large organizations put a detailed guide about their response time in their service level terms.

34. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

FAQ is a collection of most common and generic questions and their answers. These FAQs could be about your business, products or services. FAQs help in customer self-service by reducing generic queries.

35. Gamification

It is the program used by companies to motivate their customer support team. This makes the support team job more competitive and fun. In this process, companies create a reward system in their support software.

Here customer support agents have rewarded points for a quicker response or receiving a rating from the customer for providing good support. There are also negative points for poor performance.

36. Interactive Voice Response(IVR)

When someone calls customer care, it gives them an option to choose the service/assistance they want and it will be automatically connected to the related department. This is called IVR.

37. Knowledge Base

The knowledgebase is the storage of information regarding product /service. It consists of self-help docs with detailed instruction about usage or installation of product/service.

This can be accessed by customers or agents to get an answer to different questions related to product/service. Usually, the information stored in the knowledgebase is created by the subject matter experts.

38. Live Chat

It is a tool which helps businesses to provide 24/7 customer support to their customers.

39. Multichannel Support

Providing customer support through different channels such as Phone, Email, Messages, Live chat, Social Media.

40. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS is closely related to customer experience. It is the measure of how likely your customers are to tell others about your products or services. The customers who are happy with your product and have had great customer support experience are more likely to recommend your products/services to others.

Usually collecting NPS requires the help of a marketing team as well. You can learn more about how marketing and support teams can effectively collaborate here.

41. Proactive Support

Often treated as a part of customer success, proactive support is the strategy to take control of premeditated problems that might become real customer issues later. You can do this by numerous means such as sending in-app campaigns or creating a checklist of processes involved inefficient use of your products and services

42. New Tickets

The number of new customer queries received at a particular time frame.

43. Queuing Resolution Time

Queuing resolution time is the average hold time of customers until they are served. This could be the time elapsed in providing the first response or time elapsed between routing customers from one department to the other. The agenda is to keep this time as low as possible. But again, it depends on your support medium and the ratio of the number of queries you get vs the number of agents you have.

44. Open Ticket

The first, default state of a customer support ticket, before being assigned to an agent or dealt with in any way.

45. Outsourcing

Outsourcing is a business practice in which services or job functions are farmed out to a third party. In information technology, an outsourcing initiative with a technology provider can involve a range of operations, from the entirety of the IT function to discrete, easily defined components, such as disaster recovery, network services, software development or QA testing.

46. Overdue Ticket

A ticket that has not been resolved during the agreed time according to the Service Level Agreement.

47. Self-service

Self-service most frequently refers to when customers independently access information and resolve issues rather than interact with a company’s agent or submit a request for support. Self-service can also benefit a company internally, helping agents find information easily and resolve customer issues quickly.

48. Self-service ratio

The self-service ratio compares the number of help center views with the number of tickets submitted to agents. This measure helps determine how readily customers are able to find information on their own, by going to the help center rather than needing to submit a ticket. A company can use a self-service ratio to understand whether users feel empowered to serve themselves, when new content is needed for the knowledge base, or whether business changes may account for customer behavior.

49. Service-level agreements

A service-level agreement is the standard a company and customer set as the target for a support team’s average ticket response and resolution times. Service-level agreements give a team a predetermined level of support to maintain, enable tracking of performance against goals, and help a company both deliver predictable service and meet obligations to customers.

50. Subject-matter experts

Subject-matter experts are support team members who have deep knowledge of a particular product, topic, or technology. These experts serve as a valuable source of information and support to agents and others on the team, and are often responsible for creating and updating knowledge-base content.

51. Support operations

The support operation represents the entire team responsible for providing, measuring, and improving customer service. A support operation may include several job functions in addition to a general customer service agent, including workforce management, training, quality assurance, customer relationship management, specialist agent, and analyst.

52. Support ticket

A support ticket provides a means of communication about a customer request, tracking the actions taken from the time it is created through its resolution. A ticket can be generated via a variety of support channels and captures the pertinent details about the request.

53. Pending Ticket

The second stage of a customer support ticket—basically a further research/issue resolving stage before getting back to a customer and closing the ticket.

54. Personalization

Tailoring support to individual customers by attaching names, faces, and a generally “human” touch to your communication.

55. Proactiveness

An act of taking steps to help control a (negative) situation before it even becomes an issue.

56. Reassign

When a ticket that has been assigned to a certain agent, gets handed over to a different one.

57. Resolution Rate

The percentage of issues your customer support agents actually resolve from the number of total tickets received.

58. Retention

The ability of a company or business to keep its customers over a specified period of time.

59. Review

A customer’s publicized opinion about your service, product or company.

60. Reassign

When a ticket that has been assigned to a certain agent, gets handed over to a different one.

61. Resolution Rate

The percentage of issues your customer support agents actually resolve from the number of total tickets received.

62. Retention

The ability of a company or business to keep its customers over a specified period of time.

63. Review

A customer’s publicized opinion about your service, product or company.

64. Service Culture

A collection of shared values, beliefs, and rules of behavior in a company regarding customer support.

65. Service Culture

A collection of shared values, beliefs, and rules of behavior in a company regarding customer support.

66. Service Level Agreement (SLA)

A contract between a company and the end-user of their product or service that defines the level of service—often uptime or response time.

67. Survey

A questionnaire sent to the customer—generally after resolving the issue—to find out how happy they were with the support they received.

68. Ticket

Each individual issue or request raised by a customer that needs a reply or resolution. (We actually hate the word “ticket” and instead use the term “conversation.”)

69. Ticket Status

Every stage of a support ticket during its lifecycle—for example, open, pending, closed, etc.

70. Tone

The external expression that conveys your current emotion or attitude, and depends on the situation.

71. Troubleshooting

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

72. Unassigned Ticket

A support ticket that has not yet been handed over to a specific support agent.

73. Upselling

The act of persuading a customer to upgrade or add on to their already existing product or service.

74. User Error

An issue that was brought on or caused by the customer as opposed to a faulty product or service.

75. Voice

The steady “personality” of an agent or company that doesn’t change based on the current situation.

76. Widget

An application or part of an interface that enables a user to perform a function.

Make sure you grab the downloadable document with the whole glossary here, and add your own company⁠—or business specific terms to it.

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