The contact center industry is full of specialized terminology, with many contact centers having a jargon all their own. It’s a challenge to keep track of every individual term and its definitions, so we put together a comprehensive glossary of the most frequently used and difficult-to-define words that contact center professionals rely on to make sense of their world at work.
Before we explore the WFM glossary of terms, we want to give a nod to Call Centre Helper for their excellent list of key industry terms as well, which they describe as the golden rules of customer service. We encourage you to use our own WFM glossary which includes workforce management terminology.
To begin our WFM glossary of terms, let’s start by clarifying three key phrases that often cause confusion among customer support agents and managers alike — WEM, WFM, and WFO:
- Workforce Engagement Management (WEM) - Software products that bring together Quality Management (QM) and Workforce Management (WFM), with a focus on employee engagement.
- Workforce Management (WFM) - A suite of solutions that enables contact center leaders to create the most optimized schedules for their staff, while creating a plan for future forecasts.
- Workforce Optimization (WFO) - A solution suite focused on creating operational efficiency by utilizing WFM and QM products.
Bonus: Download the DMG Consulting white paper that includes key takeaways on how to use workforce engagement management to improve agent engagement.
With those three primary terms defined, let’s take a look at the WFM terms you need to know. We’ve also added a few fun entries to the list to keep you motivated and inspired!
WFM Glossary of Terms You Need to Know
Adherence - The amount of time an agent works that coincides with the time they are scheduled to work, sometimes called schedule adherence. The time considered in adherence includes call time, after-call work, and activities such as meetings and training.
After-Call Work (ACW) - The tasks that a call center agent completes after finishing an interaction with a customer, sometimes referred to as post-call processing. These tasks could include sending an email to the customer or internal department to follow up on the call, logging details about the call in a database, and scheduling follow-up actions.
Blended Agent - A call center agent who handles both incoming and outgoing contacts.
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) - A method of subcontracting various business operations to third-party vendors, such as a contact center.
Cost per Case - The average cost per support contact, which can include fixed costs, such as office space and technology expenses, and variable costs, such as scheduled labor and unscheduled overtime. Sometimes referred to cost per contact.
Digital Experience - A customer’s collective interactions with a company via multiple digital touchpoints, such as a mobile device, social media networks, or a desktop computer.
Erlang C Formula - Mathematical calculations to derive the number of staff needed for a given number of calls to meet a given service level.
Forecasting - A prediction of contact center workload and staffing requirements, based on historical data.
Generalist - An agent who has the skills to handle all types of calls and contacts, sometimes referred to as a blended agent.
Hold Time - The amount of time a caller spends in an agent-initiated hold status.
Intraday Management - A method of schedule management designed to reduce the impact of unplanned events, rebalancing each day’s workload with available agents to maintain acceptable service levels.
(Just) do it now. - One of Playvox’s core values. We move fast. We don’t procrastinate. We're determined to deliver solutions that enable our customers to elevate the experience of their agents and customers.
Key Performance Indicator (KPI) - The most critical performance metrics in a contact center, typically measures related to productivity and customer satisfaction.
Load Balancing - The process of balancing customer contacts between multiple sites, queues, or agents.
Monitoring - The practice of evaluating an agent’s interactions with customers to assess the quality and ensure a fantastic customer experience.
Net Workload - The amount of time an agent needs to handle a certain amount of work, without accounting for safety staffing. For example, if 1,000 contacts are processed during a day, with an average handle time of four minutes, the net workload is 4,000 minutes.
Occupancy Rate - The percentage of logged-in and available time that an agent spends in active contact handling, versus in an idle or available state.
Peak Hour Traffic - The highest volume load of traffic offered to a telecommunications system, sometimes referred to as peak traffic.
Quality Management - The people, processes, and systems a contact center uses used to monitor customer interactions to ensure they are being handled by contact center agents in the desired fashion, also known as quality assurance.
Routing - A management feature for contact centers that allows incoming contacts to be placed in a queue and then routed to a specific person or group of people based on business rules and criteria.
Service Level Agreement (SLA) - A contact center's commitment to maintain a certain level of service, typically involving a specified percentage of handled contacts within a period of time.
Shrinkage - The percentage of paid time that contact center agents are not available to handle calls, emails, chats, and other customer interactions after accounting for breaks, meetings, training time, off-phone activities, paid leave, and other activities.
Transfer Rate - The percentage of customer contacts transferred to another contact center team member in order to be completed or resolved.
Utilization Rate - The percentage of logged-in and available time that an agent spends in active call handling versus in an idle or available state, sometimes referred to as agent occupancy.
Volume - A measure of how many inbound contacts are coming into a contact center within a given period of time, typically represented in increments of a quarter-hour, hour, or day.
Wrap-Up Time - The time an agent requires after a conversation is ended to complete work directly associated with the interaction just completed.
Exception Handling - The process for managing any activity not planned in an agent’s work schedule, including meetings, training sessions, unscheduled breaks, or absenteeism.
Yes, we can. - Your contact center’s perspective on providing ideal schedules for your business and agents by using a WFM system.
Gen Z - The population of customers that dislikes using phones for phone calls, finding them too time-consuming and even anxiety-inducing. To resonate with Gen Z customers, contact centers have to take an omnichannel approach and connect their way — mainly via social media and texting apps.
We invite you to bookmark our full glossary of terms so you can refer to it any time the need arises. If you have any additions to the list, let us know!