Glossary of Help Desk Terms
Looking for information and terminology associated with help desks, call centers or customer support centers? eHelpDesk provides a glossary of technical and not-so-technical terms commonly used in the help desk industry.
- Abandoned Call
- An incoming call that is aborted before being answered by an agent. ACDs generally track the amount of time the average caller waits before abandoning a call. This information can help your call center provide the appropriate number of agents for various time periods.
- Abandonment Rate
- The number of calls abandoned represented as a percentage of all incoming calls over a defined period of time.
- Advisory Tones
- Auditory signals from your call processing system that indicate activity, such as a dial tone, busy signal, ringing, or call-waiting.
- Call center or service members allocated to handling inbound or outbound calls, support requests, telemarketing, technical support or other requests.
- Agent Utilization
- A measurement of the number of agents available to handle calls over a period of time.
- All Trunks Busy (ATB)
- All lines are busy, incoming or outgoing calls cannot be serviced. The caller will usually hear a fast busy signal.
- Arrival Time
- The time period in hours and minutes over which calls are arriving.
- Asset Management
- The tracking of hardware and software assets to facilitate management and performance trends of your computer systems.
- Audit / Inventory Component
- An additional component that integrates with your help desk software to enable asset management.
- Automated Attendant
- Answers calls with a digital recording via a voice-processing device that allows the caller to access a known extension by entering the appropriate keys on their touch-tone keypad.
- Automatic Call Distributor (ACD)
- Answers calls and directs them to the first available agent. If the number of calls arriving exceeds the number of agents available, an ACD will place calls in a specified order, so callers wait the minimum amount of time before reaching the next available agent.
- Automatic Call Distributor Application Bridge
- The connection between an ACD and a database of information. Provides the ACD access to call processing information to expedite and properly route calls.
- Automated Voice Response System (AVRS)
- A device that automatically answers a call and has the ability to put the call in queue or play a message for the caller to hold or give further instructions to reach a party.
- Average Calls in Queue
- Average number of calls for any given time period that will wait until serviced by an agent.
- Average Delay to Handle (ADH)
- The average amount of time a caller waits before answered by an agent.
- Average Speed to Answer (ASA)
- The average amount of time in minutes and seconds that all calls will wait until serviced by an agent. Includes call in queue as well as calls that receive immediate service.
- Average Talk Time (ATT)
- The average amount of time in minutes and seconds that an agents spends talking to a caller.
- A technique of measuring current levels of performance, both within your center and against outside centers, to determine realistic achievement levels.
- Business Critical
- Term that describes those processes within your organization that are essential to its operation.
- Calls arriving after all trunks are occupied and cannot be completed.
- Call Center
- A hub where calls are placed or received for the purposes of telemarketing, sales, customer support, or other business related activity. The call center may contain a few or hundreds of agents who handle calls to relay business information. It may be connected to a data network.
- Call Ticket
- Information for an incident or issue collected by the help desk. A call ticket may contain detailed information such as, demographics of the customer reporting the incident, devices involved in the incident, previous case history, and actions taken toward it's resolution.
- Call Tracking
- Term that usually applies to a software package that automates the process of collecting and managing information taken for a support or service call.
- Caller ID
- A service tool that allows an agent to view the number the incoming call is coming from before answering the call.
- Case-Based Reasoning (CBR)
- An artificial intelligence technology that uses past occurrences to locate solutions for problem resolution. This type of technology works best with a knowledge base that contains a large number of cases.
- The workstations or PCs connected to a local area network.
- Client Application
- A computer program that integrates with the processing capabilities of another program.
- Client / Server
- A collection of PCs or workstations that are connected to a Server through a local area network (LAN).
- Closed Ticket
- A call ticket that has been resolved and requires no further action.
- Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)
- The integration of computer and telephone systems to enhance communication between these two technologies.
- Cost-Per-Call Analysis
- Measures the cost-effectiveness of your operation, taking into account the number of agents, equipment costs, and revenues generated.
- Customer Effectiveness
- Measurement customers includes need for training, unplanned maintenance, and other service interruptions.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- The technique of establishing and maintaining a long-term business relationship with your customers. CRM involves utilizing the data collected during your customer interactions to determine the demographics and future needs of each customer.
- Database Management System (DBMS)
- A computer software program that allows your call center or help desk to store and retrieve critical business information. A DBMS may be used within a help desk to store information concerning a callers company, phone, fax, e-mail and other demographics as well as a history of issues of concern.
- A way of electronically transmitting messages via phone or cable lines connecting computer terminals.
- Customers who directly interact with help desk or call center software products. These may include personnel within your company or external clients who use the software to contact a call center, internal support desk, or external help desk.
- The act of advancing an issue to the next appropriate level for resolution.
- Focus Groups
- A group of people who have similar demographics and are interviewed in a group setting by marketers. This strategy provides information not necessarily found in traditional survey methods.
- Follow-up Contact
- The person or department that an issue is directed to after its initialization. Follow-up Contacts are often the personnel best capable to handle specific types of problems.
- Functional Specification Requirements (FSR)
- Criteria defined when establishing a help desk. These criteria are based on the goals defined for the help desk and may contain items based on your current hardware setup, the type of information you want to track, the necessity for proactive or diagnostic tools, or the ability to create reports or graphs.
- Help Desk
- A center providing a service to internal or external callers to facilitate the use of their technology assets.
- A list of issues or call tickets assigned to an agent. Typically displays open issues in order of importance or some other priority.
- Inbound Calls
- Calls made by customers to your help desk or call center.
- Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)
- An interconnected group of telecommunication devices and standards that provide a single network for transmitting voice, data, or signal.
- Intelligent Call Processing (ICP)
- A feature of ACDs that allows them to automatically route calls based on information from callers or from information retrieved from your database.
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
- An application that allows the calling customer to perform a computerized function, such as retrieving information by pressing keys on the telephone keypad.
- An electronic communications network that connects computers and organizational computers globally.
- An electronic communications network that connects a select number of computers, for example within an organization or business.
- An action, incident, or situation that requires support or expertise.
- Knowledge Base
- A collection of information usually from a database to aid help desk analysts in problem resolution.
- Line Cost
- The total cost of inbound trunk lines to the Call Center. Actual time spent with an agent, as well as time spent in queue are calculated into this cost.
- Local Area Network (LAN)
- A system of workstations or PCs connected to a Server, over a short distance. LANs allow multiple users to access the same printer, or set of files that reside on the Server.
- Software applications allows your call center and help desk collect information through switches from a variety of manufacturers. These applications typically run on a server and bridge applications between different types of devices and data sources.
- Natural Language Processing
- This technology allows users to search for help through a knowledge base using their own terms.
- A collection of computers and peripherals. This may be over a short distance as with a LAN, or a large area, as with a WAN.
- Network Management Tools
- Monitors the health of your help desk network infrastructure. Collects and tracks software, hardware, and system configuration information.
- Automatic report sent by e-mail to customers or clients containing specific information concerning the status of an issue.
- Number of Calls
- The actual or estimated number of calls arriving over the determined arrival time.
- Open Application Interface (OAI)
- An application that allows your telephone system to list to a computer. The computer then directs the telephone systems incoming calls by answering, delaying, routing, or holding calls.
- Outbound Calls
- Hiring an outside or third-party service to handle support requests within your support center. Outsourcing may include only certain functions within your support center or may allow your call center to operate 24-hours a day.
- Overflow Time
- The specified time value before calls in queue will be rerouted or forwarded to another party, voice mail system, or other call-handling tool.
- Peer-to-Peer Network
- A LAN that allows all workstations or PCs the same level of access to network capabilities.
- Percent Likely to Abandon
- The percentage of callers who are likely to abort a call when placed in queue, or waiting to be picked up.
- Predictive Dialing
- An automated software tool used by outbound call centers that only funnels calls to agents after they have been answered by a potential customer. Predictive dialers make a huge number of outbound calls and alleviate the dialing process from the agent.
- Private Branch eXchange (PBX)
- An automated phone system that eliminates the need for an operator for placing outbound calls. Typically used by smaller help desks and call centers, the PBX resides at your workplace and is owned by your company.
- A database search that retrieves specified information (by keyword, full text, or other means) from your help desk database of information.
- Queue Time
- Average amount of time that a caller waits before an agent answers.
- Record Locking
- A feature for help desk or call center software that only allows one agent access to a record at a time.
- Recurring Issues
- Actions or incidents that are handled on a frequent basis, such as support training or database management that can be handled by an automatic scheduling tool.
- Remote Diagnostic Software
- Software applications that can detect computer problems.
- Request for Proposal (RFP)
- A customer solicited action to vendors to gain information about their product or service. RFPs allow the customer to make an educated purchasing decision. Typical information sought after includes product features, support costs, product costs.
- Response Time
- The average amount of time a caller must wait before action is taken to resolve a reported issue.
- Retry Percent
- The percentage of callers that will call back after abandoning due to a busy signal or long period in queue.
- Retry Time
- The average amount of time that a caller will wait before calling back after abandoning a call.
- Return on Investment (ROI)
- The monetary value that an automated help desk brings to your organization. Generally, the return divided by the help desk operating costs.
- Ring Delay
- A set amount of time, or number of rings before a call is put through to an agent, or put in queue.
- Scheduling Tools
- Allow help desk Managers to anticipate staff needed based on call load or other criteria.
- Self-help Tools
- Tools that allow your support staff, or customers access information to resolve issues, such as a knowledge bases, downloadable tutorial, or IVR systems.
- Service Level Agreement (SLA)
- An agreement between the help desk and a customer to provide a certain level of service.
- Talk Time
- The average time spent by agents on phone calls over a given time period.
- Telephone Application Program Interface (TAPI)
- Program interface developed by Microsoft and targeted to desktop, Windows-based applications.
- Telephone Services Application Program Interface (TSAPI)
- Program Interface developed by Novell and targeted toward LAN-based applications.
- Voice Messaging
- A communication tool that provides a phone option from the main help desk menu that offers additional information. For example, this may be used for a major service interruption, or to provide general information.
- Wide Area Network (WAN)
- A network system that connects a LAN-based system, usually over leased phone lines, at various physical locations.
- Web Enablement
- An application that provides access to your help desk or call center database of information from any internet-ready PC, Mac or UNIX.
- Work Order Scheduling
- Allows work orders or tickets to be automatically generated from a call and put into action.
- Work Time
- Tasks completed by the agent resolving a call after talk time and before the next call is answered. This may include printing an issue ticket or completing order information.