Customer Care Glossary

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Abandoned Call: The caller hangs up before reaching an agent. (Also called a lost call.)
Access Provider: An organization that provides access to the Internet. (Also called an Internet Service Provider [ISP].)
ACD: Automatic Call Distributor automatically answers calls, queues calls, distributes calls to agents, plays delay announcements and provides real-time and historical reports on these activities.
ACS: Automatic Call Sequencer automatically answers and sequences calls on a first-in/first-out basis.
ACTUAL VALUE: The net present value of future financial contributions from the designated customer, behaving in the way he is expected to behave, knowing what we know now, with no significant unanticipated change in the customer's needs, in the competitive landscape, or in the company's planned strategy. Same as lifetime value (LTV).
ACW: After-Call Work. Work that is necessitated by and immediately follows an inbound transaction (Also called Wrap-up and Post Call Processing.)
Agent: The person who handles incoming or outgoing calls.
Aggregation: Combining data in a way that creates new information. For example, adding the dollar values of all of a customer's transactions together to create a new field that reflects total purchases.
AHT: Average Handling Time-the sum of average talk time and average after-call work for a specified time period. OR Average Hold Time.
AI: Artificial Intelligence is computers that act in a way analogous to intelligent human behavior.
AMIS: Audio Messaging Interchange Specification-a standard that permits networking of voice mail systems from different manufacturers.
Analog: Telephone transmission or switching that is not digital.
API: An API (a techie term for application programming interface) allows users to get a data feed directly into their own sites, providing continually updated, streaming data — text, images, video — for display. For example, Flickr‘s API might allow you to display photos from the site on your blog. When sites like Twitter and Facebook “open up” their APIs, it means that developers can build applications that build new functionality on top of the underlying service.
ANI: Automatic Number Identification allows the phone number from which the person is calling to be sent and displayed to the called party.
Application Based routing and Reporting: The ACD capability to route and track transactions by type of call.
ARU: Audio Response Unit-automated attendants that route calls based on digits callers enter on touch-tone phones. It responds to caller entered digits or speech recognition in much the same way that a conventional computer responds to keystrokes or clicks of a mouse. (Also called IVR, VRU)
ASA: Average Speed of Answer.
ASCII: American Standard Code of Information Interchange-widely used code for transmission of data from one database to another.
Automated Attendant: A voice processing capability that automates the attendant function. The system prompts callers to respond to choices and then coordinates with the ACD to send callers to specific destinations.
Average Time to Abandonment: The average time that callers wait in queue before abandoning.


Baseline Market Segmentation Study: The first market segmentation study conducted by an organization.
BELOW ZEROs (BZs): The customers who cost more to serve than they will ever return in value. Examples: A Below Zero might be somebody who takes a lot of free services, but doesn't return much revenue. It could be a complainer whose complaint was never resolved and therefore no longer does business with you. Not only is that person worth zero on that account, but actually has below-zero value because he or she will tarnish your reputation in speaking to other customers.
Benchmarking: A method of measuring processes against those of recognized leaders to establish priorities and targets leading to process improvement.
Best Practice: A way or method of accomplishing a business function or process that is considered to be superior to all other known methods. A case study considered to be a good example of a business discipline.
Beta Testing: Testing a pre-released (and potentially unreliable) version of a product, business initiative, or software by making it available to selected users. Whereas an "alpha" test involves in-house testing, a "beta" test denotes external testing.
Blog: A blog is an online journal that’s updated on a regular basis with entries that appear in reverse chronological order. Blogs can be about any subject. They typically contain comments by other readers, links to other sites and permalinks.  See SOCAP's blog at
BOS: Business Operating System - An environment that represents the vast warehouses of knowledge of an organization-the way a business is run, the way people and information come together to add value to a business process. A BOS is a repository composed of a common operating environment, a business process library and enterprise workflow.
Brand Associations: Components of brand image, usually (but not always) assessed by qualitative research methods.
Brand Equity: The level of awareness and consumer goodwill generated by a company's brands and/or products.
Bricks-and-Mortar: Slang referring to businesses that exist in the real world, as opposed to just the cyber world. Examples include bricks-and-mortar retail outlets, bricks-and-mortar warehouses, and bricks-and-mortar law firms.
Business Process Improvement: Betterment of an organization's business practices through the analysis of activities to reduce or eliminate non-value added activities or costs, while maintaining or improving quality, productivity, timeliness or other strategic or business objectives as evidenced by performance measures.
Business Process Re-engineering: A structured approach by all or part of an enterprise to improve the value of its products and services while reducing resource requirements.
Busy Hour: The hour that a trunk group carries the most traffic.


Call Blending: Combining traditionally separate inbound and outbound agent groups into one group of agents responsible for handling both inbound and outbound contacts.
Call by Call Routing: The process of routing each call to the optimum destination according to real-time conditions.
Call Center: Term used to include reservation centers, help desks, information lines or customer service centers. The term contact center is being used more frequently, as calls are just one type of transaction taking place. It is the part of an organization that handles inbound/outbound communications with customers.
Calls in Queue: The number of calls received that the ACD system has received but that haven't connected to an agent.
Campaign Management: Managing the process of communicating with customers and prospects, usually via direct mail or telemarketing. Generally denotes pre-scheduled, continuity or event-triggered communications.
CD-ROM: Compact Disk-Read Only Memory-a record like storage medium that uses digital and optical laser technology to store about 600Mb of text, pictures and sound on a single disk.
CED: Caller-Entered Digits-digits callers enter using their telephone keypads.
Channel: An avenue through which products and services are rendered to end- use customers. Car dealers, retailers, computer resellers, grocery wholesalers are all examples of channel members.
Channel conflict: This occurs when a business attempts to render products to the same set of customers through a variety of avenues that might conflict with each other. An example is selling cars direct to consumers on the Internet, which creates a conflict with bricks-and mortar dealers who also sell the cars.
Churn: A term that describes customer attrition, or customer defection. A high churn rate implies high customer disloyalty.
CIO: Chief Information Officer.
Clicks and Mortar: Slang describing a business that has successfully integrated its online cyber-world existence with its offline real-world existence. For instance, an online appliance store that allows customers to schedule repair visits at its Web site would be an example of a clicks-and-mortar application.
Client/Server: A method of distributed processing that uses computers on a network accessed by individual desktop computers.
Closed-End Questions: Questions that ask the respondent to choose from a limited number of pre-listed answers.
Cloud Computing: Cloud computing (also called “the cloud”) refers to the growing phenomenon of users who can access their data from anywhere rather than being tied to a particular machine.
Collaborative commerce: GartnerGroup's term for net marketplaces.
Collaborative filtering: Also called Community Knowledge, this is essentially a matching engine. It allows a company to serve up products or services to a particular customer based on what other customers with similar tastes or preferences have preferred in this particular product or service. For example, uses collaborative filtering to recommend books to you that were read by people with similar interests.
Community knowledge: See Collaborative Filtering.
Continuous Process Improvement: A policy that encourages, mandates, and/or empowers employees to find ways to improve process and product performance measures on an ongoing basis.
Commercial Online Services: A company that for a fee, allows computer users to dial in via modem to access its information and services, which can include Internet access. Examples: America Online, Prodigy, Delphi.
Compression: A technique to reduce the size of a file to make it more manageable and quicker to download.
Conditional Routing: The capability of the ACD to route calls based on current conditions. It is based on "if-then" programming statements.
Consumer Direct: Also known as Direct-to-Consumer, it's the channel that includes all products and services delivered directly to the home through catalogs, telemarketing, TV shopping, kiosks, Web sites, and the newly emerging automatic grocery-replenishment services. Consumer Direct describes the process involved when a manufacturer sends goods directly to a consumer via the Internet (such as providing music or video) with no intermediaries, but the term also refers to direct-mail and catalog channels.
Consumer Unit: All related members of a particular household.
Contextual commerce: When the advertisement on the Web site directly pertains to the kind of information a person is viewing, and changes with each visitor, and with each drill down
Cookies: Small data files created by an Internet web site and stored on the user's computer. A cookie contains information that can help speed access on subsequent visits, such as passwords and details of the user's display facilities.
Co-opetition: Partnering with your competition.
Core Competency: A function essential to a company's success.
Cost of Poor Quality: The costs associated with providing poor-quality products or services.
CPI: Consumer Price Index-compares the current cost of purchasing a fixed set of goods and services with the cost of the same set at a specific base year. The resulting measures can be compared over time.
CRM: Customer Relationship Management-describes an automated system of managing both proactive and reactive customer contact.
Cross Functional Process Improvement: Business process re-engineering with the goal of eliminating stove pipe operations.
Cross-Selling: Selling related goods and services to a consumer. This process is only one way to increase your Share of Customer.
Crowdsourcing: Crowdsourcing refers to harnessing the skills and enthusiasm of those outside an organization who are prepared to volunteer their time contributing content or skills and solving problems.
CSR: Customer Service Representative.  ALSO Corporate Social Responsibility, a concept whereby businesses and organizations perform a social good or take responsibility for the impact of their activities.
CTI: Computer Telephony Integration-the software, hardware and programming necessary to integrate computers and telephones so they can work together seamlessly and intelligently.
Customer: A customer is someone who encompasses past, present, current and potential purchasers of a company's products and services.
Customer Capital: It refers to the value, usually not reflected in accounting systems other than as goodwill, that results from the relationships an organization has built with its customers.
Customer-Centric: Putting the customer at the center of the marketing effort. For example, measuring customer value, not product sales.
Customer differentiation: The second step in the one-to-one strategy labeled "IDIC" is to differentiate customers. Customers are different in two ways: they have different value to the enterprise, and they need different things from the enterprise. Customer differentiation is vital to pursuing Learning Relationships.
Customer Driven: The end user, or customer, motivates what is produced or how it is delivered.
Customer Experience Development: The process of overseeing and influencing the totality of a customer's experiences with a brand, product or service, spanning all interactions and transactions.
Customer Loyalty: The degree to which customers are predisposed to stay with your company and resist competitive offers.
Customer Portfolio Management: An organizational structure placing line responsibility for improving Return on Customer in the hands of portfolio managers.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM): CRM is the same as one-to-one marketing. This customer-focused business model also goes by the names relationship marketing, real-time marketing, customer intimacy, and a variety of other terms. But the idea is the same: establish relationships with customers on an individual basis, and then use the information you gather to treat different customers differently. The exchange between a customer and a company becomes mutually beneficial, as customers give information in return for personalized service that meets their individual needs.
Customer Satisfaction Research: Research conducted to measure overall satisfaction with a product or service and satisfaction with specific elements of the product or service.
Customer Valuation: The value of a customer to an enterprise, composed of two elements. Actual valuation is the customer's current Lifetime Value, and strategic valuation is the customer's potential value, if the customer could be grown to his or her maximum potential. (See also Share of Customer).
Cyberspace: A metaphor used to describe the "place" where customers "go" when they engage in transactions electronically via the Internet.
Cycle Time: The amount of time from when a product or service is ordered until the customer receives it.


Data Aggregation Agent (DAA): As the increasing demands of marketers and service providers for customer information begin to clash with privacy concerns, new entities called Data Aggregation Agents (DAAs) emerge. By consolidating and controlling outside access to a customer's personal data, DAAs will help businesses provide the customer with relevant and timely offers while protecting individual privacy. The basic function of a DAA would be to act as a central, online storehouse for a consumer's personal information. In a wide-open, wireless world, customers will require their DAAs to shield them from mobile "spam," while sending through messages that truly respond to their needs.
Database: Any collection of information -- from a simple shopping list to a complex collection of customer information -- is technically a customer database. However, the term is usually applied to computerized records of information.
Data Hygiene: The process of "cleaning" the data for marketing purposes. Includes address correction, correcting obvious mistakes in data entry and populating fields that are missing information.
Data Mart: A special-purpose, usually smaller, data warehouse created and managed for specific business units. Almost always, marketing or finance are the first data mart users in the enterprise. It's much easier and faster to deploy than a data warehouse.
Data Mining: Originally, a term used to describe the recognition of previously undiscovered patterns in a database. Now, it's used to add sales value to almost any kind of data analysis tool. It's one of the top 10 buzzwords in present language. Data mining is crucial in CRM strategies, particularly in e-commerce.
Data Warehouse: A data repository created by extracting data elements from operational and OLTP systems. Its main purpose is to provide a dataset that users can access without affecting the performance of the online systems.
Database Management Software: Computer programs in which data are captured on the computer, updated, maintained and organized for effective use and manipulation of data.
Deep Domain Expertise: Slang for a core competency in a vertical market such as financial services or retail.
Design Interface: The mechanism by which a customer specifies exactly what he or she needs. An important aspect of mass customization.
Design for Manufacturability: Designing, or redesigning the production process of a product so that it can be manufactured with the least amount of parts in the shortest amount of time, using standard as opposed to custom parts. (The concept originated in Japan in the early 80s.)
Dialog: Interactive communication between a business and a customer. In a one-to-one enterprise, each customer contact will also serve as a data-collection point.
Dialog Box: A box that appears on screen, inviting input from the user.
Dialup Internet Connection: Lets a user dial into an Internet service provider using a modem and telephone line to access the Internet.
Differentiation: See customer differentiation.
Directory: A list of files or other directories on a computer at an Internet site. (Same thing as a folder.)
Document Management: A software system based on an underlying database, in which unstructured objects (i.e. documents) are indexed and tracked. Internet-based companies that rely on digital technology and the use of the Web as the primary communication and interaction media.
Drip Irrigation: Gathering customer information slowly over time, rather than overwhelming customers, prospects and visitors with long surveys they might be inclined not to fill out, and using each piece to build on every interaction.
DNIS: Dialed Number Information Service-A string of digits that the telephone network passes to the ACD, VRU or other device to indicate which number the caller dialed.
DVD: Digital Video Disk-This new medium can store large amounts of data on one disk that looks like a CD, including full-length films with high-quality sound and pictures.
Dynamic pricing: When pricing is determined at the time of the transaction, as in auctions, reverse auctions, exchanges and negotiation.


E-business: A term that is most frequently applied to the business process that results when you rely on digital technology and the Internet as the primary communication and interaction media.
E-Commerce: Performing business transactions on the Internet, which may include the use of credit cards, "shopping carts," forms and secure servers. E-commerce deals with using the Internet, digital communications and IT applications to enable the buying or selling process. Some experts define e-commerce as all steps that occur in any business cycle; others as consumer and business purchases over the Internet. Yet another definition includes IT-support transactions, such as the sale of computer code by programmers, that occur online.
Empowerment: A condition whereby employees have the authority to make decisions and take action in their work areas without prior approval. For example, a customer service representative can send out a replacement product if a customer calls with a problem.
Enterprise: An organization that exists to perform a specific mission and achieve associated goals and objectives-an entire company or organization.
Enterprise Application Integration: A generic term for software that integrates legacy and disparate systems.
Enterprise Resource Planning: Back-end processes and systems; i.e., inventory management and billing. Tying your back-end systems with your front-end or customer facing systems is what allows customers to be able to check the status of their order, and check stock availability on an item. Without front/back integration, customers couldn't do this.
Error Rate: Either the number of defective transactions or the number of defective steps in a transaction.
E-tailer: A direct-to-consumer business practicing e-commerce. Typically, an e-tailer is a business that, if it weren't for the Internet, would have transactions with consumers in bricks-and-mortar retail stores.
Explicit Bargain: The "deal" that an enterprise makes with an individual in order to secure the individual's time, attention, or feedback. See also implicit bargain.


FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions-files on the Internet that store the answers to common questions.
Fax Back: A system that allows callers to request documents using their touchtone telephones.
Feed: A Web feed or RSS feed is a format that provides users with frequently updated content. Content distributors syndicate a Web feed, enabling users to subscribe to a site’s latest content. By using a news reader  to subscribe to a feed, you can read the latest posts or watch the newest videos on your computer or portable device on your own schedule.
Firewall: A security system, usually for networked computers, that controls access in and out of the network.
Fulfillment: The physical handling of an order, information request, premium or refund.


Geotagging: Geotagging is the process of adding location-based metadata to media such as photos, video or online maps. Geotagging can help users find a wide variety of businesses and services based on location.
Globalization: The trend in which businesses cross international boundaries.
Golden question: A strategic question that reveals several important pieces of information about a customer. For example, "Would you buy a birthday present for your pet?"


Handling Time: The time an agent spends in talk time and after-call work, handling a transaction.
Hashtag: A hashtag (or hash tag) is a community-driven convention for adding additional context and metadata to your tweets. Similar to tags on Flickr, you add them in-line to your Twitter posts by prefixing a word with a hash symbol (or number sign). Twitter users often use a hashtag like #followfriday to aggregate, organize and discover relevant posts.
Home Page:
The first page a user sees when visiting an Internet site.
Host: An Internet company providing storage space for web sites on their server computer(s).
HTML: Hypertext Markup Language-the programming language of the World Wide Web.
HTTP: Hypertext Transfer Protocol-the protocol used to provide hypertext links between pages. It is the standard way of transferring HTML documents between Web servers and browsers.
Hypertext/Hyperlink: A highlighted word or graphic in a document that, when clicked, takes the user to a related piece of information on the Internet.


IDIC: The four-step methodology for implementing one-to-one relations with customers. IDIC stands for - identify customers, differentiate them, interact with them and customize.
Inbound Telemarketing: The handling of incoming telephone sales calls. Generally requires less sophistication and more order-taking skills on the part of the telephone sales rep than outbound telemarketing because the interest already has been generated by broadcast advertising, direct mail, etc.
Implicit Bargain: When mass-media advertisers sponsor a show or an article, they are in effect making an "implicit bargain" with consumers: watch our ad and see the show for free. The problem with an implicit bargain is that, because the medium is non-interactive, there's no real way to tie the particular consumer who watches the show back to the ad, or whether they saw it. That's why we call it an implicit bargain it's an implied bargain, as opposed to an explicit bargain, which can be made directly with an individual consumer.
Insourcing: The opposite of outsourcing. A service performed in-house.
Internet: The global network of networks that connect more than three million computers. The Internet is the virtual space in which users send and receive e-mail, login to remote computers, browse databases of information, and send and receive programs contained on these computers.
Internet Site: A computer connected to the Internet containing information that can be accessed using an Internet navigation tool such as ftp, telnet, gopher or a Web browser.
ISND: Integrated Services Digital Network-a set of international standards for telephone transmission.
ISO 9000: A series of quality assurance standards compiled by the Geneva, Switzerland-based International Standardization Organization. In the United States, ISO is represented by the American National Standards Institute, based in Washington.
IT: Information Technology-the department that controls the company's computer operations and programming. Once called MIS, for Management Information Systems.
IVR: Interactive Voice Response-automated attendants that route calls based on digits callers enter on touch-tone phones. It responds to caller entered digits or speech recognition in much the same way that a conventional computer responds to keystrokes or clicks of a mouse. (Also called ARU, VRU)


Keiretsu: A Japanese term describing a group of affiliated corporations with broad power and reach. In Japan, six giant keiretsu -- Mitsubishi, Mitsui, Dai Ichi, Kangyo, Sumitomo, Sanwa, and Fuyo --dominate much of the country's economic activity.
Kiosk: A booth-type structure that provides a computer-related service. For example, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and some tourist information booths are considered kiosks. Some physical stores have started to install kiosks to provide Internet access to customers.
Knowledge Base: Typically used to describe any collection of information that also includes contextual or experiential references to other metadata.
Knowledge Management: The leveraging of collective wisdom to increase responsiveness and innovation.
Knowledge Mapping: A process that provides an organization with a picture of the specific knowledge it requires to support its business processes.


LAN: Local Area Network-the connection of multiple computers within a building, so that they can share information, applications and peripherals.
Learning Relationship: A relationship between an enterprise and an individual customer that, through regular or repeat feedback from the customer, enables the enterprise to become smarter and smarter with respect to the customer's individual needs. When a customer and an enterprise are involved in a Learning Relationship, with every cycle of interaction and customization, the customer finds it more convenient to deal with the enterprise. The result is Customer Loyalty, because to start the relationship again with another company, the customer would first have to re-teach the competitor what has already been learned by the one-to-one enterprise.
Legacy System: An older or outdated computer system or application program that continues to be used because of the exorbitant cost of replacing or reengineering it. Often such systems offer little competitiveness and compatibility with modern equivalents. Legacy systems are frequently large, monolithic and difficult to modify, and scrapping a legacy system often requires reengineering a firm's business processes as well.
Lifetime Value: Also known as LTV, Lifetime Value is the "run rate" of a customer's actual value.
Living Touchmap: A management tool that helps companies understanding the individual dynamics and value of customer interactions over time.
LTV: see Lifetime Value.


Market Breakers: Competitors who enter an industry with a totally different business model, usually intended to attack existing competitors on price and using alternative revenue sources to become profitable.
MIS: Marketing Information Systems-create rather than simplify manipulated data, presenting data in a form useful to a variety of people within the organization.
Market Makers: A well-targeted set of customers in an industry, while preserving existing relationships and pricing models.
Market Share: The percentage of an industry's total sales that a company holds.
Marketing Mix: The unique blend of product pricing, promotion, offerings and distribution designed to meet the needs of a specific group of customers.
Marketing Research: The planning, collection and analysis of data relevant to marketing decision making, and the communication of the results to this analysis to management.
Market share: A company's sales expressed as a percentage of the sales for the total industry.
Marketing Strategy: Guiding the long-term use of the firm's resources based on it existing and projected capabilities and on projected changes in the external environment.
Mass Customization: Shorthand for high variability in marketing. It uses the power of the database to vary the marketing message-or the actual product-to fit the characteristics of an individual customer or prospect. It is the cost-efficient mass production of goods and services in lot sizes of one or just a few at a time. Mass customization is not the same as customization. Customization involves the production of a product from scratch to a customized specification, whereas mass customization is really the assembly of a product or the rendering of a service from pre-configured modules or components.
Matching Engine: An algorithm or equation for matching products being offered to the particular tastes of a customer.
Metadata: Data about data. For example, a table that tells the system how to translate database codes into words that make a data field easier for users to understand.
Microblogging: Microblogging is the act of broadcasting short messages to other subscribers of a Web service. On Twitter, entries are limited to 140 characters, and applications like Plurk and Jaiku take a similar approach with sharing bite-size media. Probably a more apt term for this activity is “microsharing.”
A mini-site within a site, usually for a partner brand.
Middleware: Software that mediates between different types of hardware and software on a network, so they can function together.
Mobility: The subject of mobile/wireless.
Modeling: Statistical techniques used to determine commonalities among customers or prospects who exhibit a desired behavior, then find other people in the database who have those same characteristics.
Monitoring: Listening to agents' phone calls for quality control purposes.
Most Growable Customers (MGC): Those customers for whom the Strategic Value, that is the potential value of the customer, most exceeds the customer's current Actual Value. These are the customers who have the most growth potential -- growth that can be realized through cross selling; through keeping the customer for a longer period; or perhaps by changing a customer's behavior and getting them to operate in a way that costs the enterprise less money. Most Growable Customers are also known as second-tier customers (STCs).
Most Valuable Customers (MVC): Those customers with the highest actual value to the enterprise -- the ones who do the most business, yield the highest margins, are most willing to collaborate, and tend to be the most loyal. MVCs are those with whom the company probably has the greatest Share of Customer. The objective of an enterprise with respect to its MVCs is retention. See also Below Zeros, Most Growable Customers.


Natural Language Processing: Allows the computer to understand phrases that are only meaningful in the context of an ongoing conversation.
NCOA: National Change of Address is a service of the U.S. Postal Service to improve the accuracy of mailing addresses. The NCOA file is compiled by the USPS from Change of Address cards that are submitted by movers to their local post office. Mail files can be matched against this file to identify movers and to supply the current mailing address.
Needs-based differentiation: How customers are different, based on what they need from the enterprise. Two customers may buy the same product or service for two dramatically different reasons. The customer's needs refers to why the customer buys, not what he buys.
Network: A group of computers that are connected in some fashion.
Neural Network: A computer program that mimics the function of the human brain.
Niche marketing: A marketing segmentation strategy in which the firm focuses on serving one segment of the market. Niche marketing is very much like segmented marketing, only the segments are smaller -- a niche is a small, distinguishable segment that can be uniquely served.


Occupancy: The amount of time agents handle calls as opposed to waiting for calls. (Also called agent utilization.)
OLTP: Object Linking and Embedding-a method of synchronizing data between applications. For example, an Excel spreadsheet embedded in a Word document.
One-to-One Marketing: Treating each customer in the way he or she wants to be treated. Focused on the individual customer, one-to-one marketing is based on the idea of an enterprise knowing its customer. Through interactions with that customer the enterprise can learn how he or she wants to be treated. The enterprise is then able to treat this customer differently than other customers. However, one-to-one marketing does not mean that every single customer needs to be treated uniquely; rather, it means that each customer has a direct input into the way the enterprise behaves with respect to him or her.
OpenID: OpenID is a single sign-on system that allows Internet users to log on to many different sites using a single digital identity, eliminating the need for a different user name and password for each site.
Operational Entanglement:
Enmeshing the operations of the enterprise with those of the customer. Providing tools so the customer can perform some of the functions that otherwise would have been performed by the enterprise, usually so the customer can assume more control over the service being rendered.
Outsourcing: Contracting some or all of a department's services to an outside company.


Paradigm Shift: The creation of a new model for any business process. Breakthrough thinking.
Pareto Principle: Named after Vilfredo Pareto, the 19th-Century economist and sociologist, the Pareto Principle is also known as "the 80:20 rule." It says that 80 percent of an enterprise's revenue comes from 20 percent of its customers. In practical terms, though, it might be 90 percent of the revenue coming from 5 percent of the customers, or 60 percent coming from 30 percent of customers, depending on the firm's Valuation Skew of its customer base.
PBX: Private Branch Exchange-a telephone system located at a customer's site that handles incoming and outgoing calls.
PDF: Portable Document Format-a file format developed by Adobe Systems for capturing formatted page layouts for distribution. Requires the proprietary Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is now given away.
Peer to Peer (P2P): Technology that allows peer groups-usually groups of a particular company's customers-to communicate and exchange information with one another. It is used among both B2C and B2B companies.
Penetration Analysis: Measuring how well a company has penetrated its potential market by finding and reporting on the number of people who look like customers, but have not yet bought. (Also called market share analysis.)
Permission Marketing: Obtaining customers' permission to market products or services to them. It is a marketing method whereby companies get their customers' permission to market products or services to them. By talking only to volunteers, permission marketing guarantees that consumers pay more attention to the marketing message. The term was coined by author Seth Godin in his book, Permission Marketing. See also Explicit Bargain.
Personal Digital Assistant (PDA): Technology that helps people manage their time and conduct business through the Web/email without the need of a computer (such as a Palm Pilot).
Personalization: A means to add the name, address, keycode, etc. of the individual to a mailing piece. Involves customizing some feature of a product or service so that the customer enjoys more convenience, lower cost, or some other benefit
Picket Fence: A term used to describe a particular transition strategy for becoming a one-to-one enterprise. The picket-fence strategy is based on isolating all or most of your Most Valuable Customers and your Most Growable Customers from the traditional marketing initiatives that the rest of the customer base is subjected to, and over time expanding the population of customers "behind the picket fence."
Podcast: A podcast is a digital file (usually audio but sometimes video) made available for download to a portable device or personal computer for later playback. A podcast also refers to the show that comprises several episodes. A podcast uses a feed that lets you subscribe to it so that when a new audio clip is published online, it arrives on your digital doorstep right away.
A gateway to the Internet that provides not only email, calendars, bulletin boards, and chatrooms to visitors or customers, but also customer-oriented service. A good portal solves problems for its visitors or customers. Companies should use them as access points to improve customer service.
Portfolio: A non-overlapping group of individually identified customers, managed by a portfolio manager, with similar needs and/or values. No customer will be in more than one portfolio.
Potential Value: The net present value of the maximum reasonable future financial contributions from the designated customer, if the company were to succeed in applying an optimum proactive strategy for changing that customer's otherwise expected behavior.
Predictive Dialing: A system that automatically places outbound calls and delivers answered calls to agents. When the dialer detects busy signals, answering machines or ring no answer, it puts the number back in queue.
Predictive Model Markup Language (PMML): A new industry standard created by IBM and Oracle that allows models to move from system to system.
Product Service Bundle: The services and features that surround the core product, such as invoicing, delivery, financing, packaging and palletization, promotion, and so forth.
Profiling: Using a series of distributions to describe customers or prospects in a variety of ways, such as demographically or behaviorally.
Prosumer: The answer can vary according to what the "pro" stands for in a particular instance: producer, professional, or proactive. The word "prosumer," a blend of "producer" and "consumer," was coined in 1980 by Alvin Toffler in his book "The Third Wave" to describe a future period in which an empowered consumer sector would influence the design and manufacture of products to individual specifications. That era is now upon us, say analysts who believe that 'Net-based commerce has the power to eliminate the middleman between manufacturer and purchaser.
Pure Play: Slang term that refers to any business that exists only in the cyberworld, and not in the real world. Pure play businesses do not have bricks-and-mortar locations. E*Trade and are examples of pure plays.


Real Time: Refers to the utmost level of timeliness regarding the transmission, processing, and/or use of information. A firm that collects and uses customer data in real time can manage relationships with individual customers much more effectively. See also Zero Latency.
Real Time Marketing: Regis McKenna's term for relationship marketing or CRM. Refers to the utmost level of timeliness regarding the transmission, processing, and/or use of information. A firm that collects and uses customer data in real time can manage relationships with individual customers much more effectively. See also Zero Latency. The term referred to in his book, Real Time: Preparing for the Age of the Never Satisfied Customer.
Relationship Marketing: see Customer Relationship Management.
Response Rate: The percentage of responses received from a given promotional effort.
RFI: Request for Information.
RFP: Request for Proposal.
ROI: Return on Investment. A term describing the calculation of the financial return on a business policy or initiative that incurs some cost. ROI may be measured in terms of a payback period for the investment, or as a percentage return on a cash outlay, or as the discounted net present value of free cash flows of an investment there are many different ways to calculate it.
RSS: RSS (Really Simple Syndication) — sometimes called web feeds — is a Web standard for the delivery of content — blog entries, news stories, headlines, images, video — enabling readers to stay current with favorite publications or producers without having to browse from site to site. blogs and news content using a news reader. All blogs, podcasts and videoblogs contain an RSS feed, which lets users subscribe to content automatically and read or listen to the material on a computer or a portable device. Most people use an RSS reader, or news aggregator, to monitor updates. Socialbrite founder JD Lasica coined the term “news that comes to you” to refer to RSS.


Scoring: The output from a predictive model.
Screen Pop: A CTI capability. Callers' records are automatically retrieved (based on ANI or digits entered into the VRU) and delivered to agents, along with the calls.
Search Engine: An online service that can plow through the contents of the Web looking for specific phrases or words.
Segment: A group of customers related either by similar needs and/or values, or by outward characteristics (demographics, postal code, etc). Different from a portfolio, in that customers in a segment are usually not individually identified, and customers can be members of more than one segment.
Segmentation: Grouping the individuals in a database into segments based on combinations of demographics, response, purchase behavior or other criteria.
Share of customer: In contrast to Market Share, share of customer refers to the percentage of a particular customer's business a firm gets over that customer's lifetime of patronage. The ratio of a customer's Actual Valuation to Strategic Valuation.
Skill-Based Routing: An ACD capability that matches a caller's specific needs with an agent that has the skills to handle that call.
Social Media Optimization: Social Media Optimization (SMO) is a set of practices for generating publicity through social media, online communities and social networks. The focus is on driving traffic from sources other than search engines, though improved search ranking is also a benefit of successful SMO.
Slang for posting the same message to multiple newsgroups, or commercial e-mail sent without permission.
Speech Recognition: The capability of a voice processing system to decipher spoken words and phrases.
STC (Second Tier customer): See Most Growable Customer.
Sticky Application: A portion of a Web site designed to interact with customers, require customers to provide input and grow "smarter" over time about how to meet individual customer needs. The "application" becomes "sticky" as customers gain a stake in the service and grow reluctant to take their business elsewhere. See also Learning Relationships.
Stove Pipe: Term commonly used to reflect that a business function operates in a vertically integrated manner, but does not interact efficiently or effectively with related functions.
Strategic Value: The strategic value of a customer is the potential that customer has to give you, if you had a strategy to go get it; it's the customer's potential additional value over and above his or her Actual Value.
Streaming: A technology for delivering audio or video files so that they can be heard or seen while downloading, without having to wait for the complete file.
Super Distribution Marketing: A more appropriate, substitute term for "viral" marketing. The most successful super-distribution campaigns (usually email) offer something so unique that the message grabs your attention and impresses you so mightily that you can't help sharing it with friends and colleagues.


TCP/IP: Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol-The protocols that govern the exchange of sequential data. TCP/IP was designed by the U.S. Department of Defense to link dissimilar computers across many kinds of networks. It has since become a common standard for commercial equipment and applications.
Touch Points: The priority areas for the application of Knowledge Management, typically: interactions with customers, interactions with suppliers and interactions with employees. Each touch point represents an area of potential process or quality improvement and competitive advantage.
TQM: Total Quality Management-those practitioners who really practice quality. These organizations often employ an on-site quality guru.
Triple Bottom Line: The triple bottom line (sometimes abbreviated as “TBL” or “3BL”) is rapidly gaining recognition as a framework for measuring business performance. It captures the values that some organizations embrace: people, planet, profit — that is, social, environmental and economic factors.
Trunk: A communications channel between two switching systems.
Trusted Agent: An enterprise that treats customers' interests as paramount and speaks on the customer's behalf in all its dealings. With most organizations this is a very difficult philosophy to implement, because in many cases the interests of the customer and enterprise don't coincide. Only in Collaborative relationships do the true interests of the customer and enterprise match.


UCD: Uniform Call Distributor-a simple system that distributes calls to a group of agents and provides some reports. It is not as sophisticated as an ACD.
Unified Queuing: Combines all incoming traffic (e-mails, text chat, co-browsing, etc.) into a single queue.
Unrealized Potential Value: The difference between Potential Value and Actual Value.
UPS: Uninterruptible Power Supply provides constant power to an ACD/PBX, IVR/VRU or other computer equipment.
Up-Selling: Selling upgrades, add-ons, or enhancements to a particular product or service.
URL: Uniform Resource Locator-This is the name for the address of any resource on the Internet.


Valuation: What a customer is worth to an enterprise; see Customer Valuation.
Valuation Skew: The degree to which the value of a customer base is concentrated in a small percentage of customers. A steep valuation skew would be one in which a tiny percentage of customers account for the majority of the value of the customer base. A shallow valuation skew would be one where the valuation of customers is more evenly distributed across the whole customer base.
Value-Added Service: Any item for which the provider can convince the customer to pay extra.
Value of Future Customer: The net present value of a future customer's lifetime value (LTV).
Virtual Organization: A company "without walls" and without many permanent employees. It relies on contractual relationships with suppliers, distributors and a contingent workforce.
Virus: A special type of program that is designed for malicious purposes. It spreads by attaching itself to other programs and then carrying out unwanted and often damaging operations.
VoIP: Voice over IP-combines voice and data on a single network.
Vortal: These are targeted vertical portals, sometimes called "vortals," "vertiports," or "affinity portals." They are aimed at specific interest groups and focus on providing consumers with a gateway to unbiased information from other sources. A good vortal solves problems for its visitors or customers.
VRU: Voice Response Unit- automated attendants that route calls based on digits callers enter on touch-tone phones. It responds to caller entered digits or speech recognition in much the same way that a conventional computer responds to keystrokes or clicks of a mouse. (Also called IVR, ARU)


Web site: A collection of Web pages (documents containing text, graphics and photos that are downloaded to a computer screen) that are linked together in an organized structure. Most Web sites contain a "home page," or the first page a computer user sees when he or she visits the site.
World Wide Web: A revolutionary browsing system that allows point-and-click navigation of the Internet. The Web is a spiderweb-like interconnection of millions of pieces of information located on computers around the world. Web documents use hypertext, which incorporates text and graphical links to other documents and files on Internet-connected computers.


Zero Latency: A computer term describing an information system in which there is no or little time passing between the updating of an information record and its availability elsewhere in the system. See also Real Time.