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Understanding Call Center Terms


“Do you want a script-writing service with your SLA?” “How about agents…do you prefer dedicated or shared?” When shopping for a call center service, these are common questions that service providers will ask you.

If you don’t understand the vocabulary of the industry, choosing a provider can be a rather overwhelming task. But if you can “talk the talk,” you will be able to communicate effectively.

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Just by learning a few basic terms, you will know how to ask the right questions and articulate your specific business needs. Let’s learn!


Automatic call distribution allows for the distribution of calls to specific agents, based on a customer’s needs, geography, etc.


Similar to caller ID, automatic number identifier shows the phone number of incoming callers, allowing call center reps to immediately pull details up on screen for the call.

Call Flow

A basic, underlying tenet that a TSR or CSR must follow with every call. Call flows can be scripted or implied, depending on the level of control desired.

Consolidated Call Center

A call center that takes calls for several different products or companies instead of specializing in only one type of product or service. A consolidated call center can have dedicated agents who deal only with one account, however, most of the agents have “skill-set” diversity and field calls for several different accounts.

seamless service
Customer Service Representative

People at the inbound call center that will be dealing directly with your customers are called CSRs. In order for your business to successfully service its clientele, your hired CSRs must be good at what they do.

    Dedicated Agent

An inbound call center agent who is dedicated to representing only your product on the phone. Dedicated agents are ideal because they are well versed in your company and your product.

Dedicated Payment

There are three ways to pay for telemarketing services. Dedicated payment is a flat payment offered to a TSR who spends all of his/her time on your account.

Inbound Call Center

A company that specializes in handling incoming calls is called an inbound call center. Often, they are set up to handle a much larger volume of calls than your business can accommodate. They frequently provide tech support, answering service capabilities, customer service, order placement and lead qualifying services.


A service or a task completed within the bounds of your organization. For example, because you are thinking about hiring a separate firm to make sales calls on your company’s behalf, you are not doing sales calls “in-house.”


Multiple numbers of potential customers that you would like to call.

List Source

Where a telemarketing firm obtains a list of numbers to call is known as a list source.

Monitoring Solution

In order to test the efficacy of your TSRs or CSRs, you have the option to listen in on a call in progress or call recordings.


The practice of hiring a telemarketing or inbound call center that is located in a different country is known as “off shoring.” Learn more about advantages and disadvantages of using an offshore firm for your telemarketing and inbound call center needs.

Outbound Call Center

A company that specializes in telemarketing, or making multiple sales or service calls on your behalf is known as an outbound call center. Typically, telemarketing companies make direct sales calls, lead generation calls, appointment scheduling calls, information verifying calls, and research and survey calls. Following a contractual agreement, telephone sales representatives will either follow a service script or ad-lib.


The process of hiring a company outside of your own for a service in the name of efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Phone Staff

Employees that will be on the phone with your customers—whether they are making service calls, marketing your business, taking orders, or scheduling appointments.


Important information such as total sales and revenue over time, call duration, calls per minute, handling time, etc., are given to companies in the form of reports. Check with your particular service provider as to availability and formatting options.


Optional directives that instruct your telephone sales and customer service representatives during a call are called scripts. Scripts can be as specific or as general as you would like them to be.

service agreement
Service Level Agreement (SLA)

The agreement that discusses the boundaries of service that the telemarketing or inbound calling center will provide for your business is known as a service level agreement. This document should include detailed notes on scripts to use, customer service, up-selling, etc.

  Shared Agent

A telemarketing agent who works on multiple accounts is known as a shared agent. Shared CSRs many not be as versed in your business’s specifics because they handle multiple accounts.

Skill Set Diversity

The industry term for call center agents who field calls for more than one cause is skill-set diversity. Dedicated agents do not need skill-set diversity because they are dedicated to the calls of only one company and can devote 100% of their time to that company’s demands.

Telephone Sales Representatives (TSR)

The representatives that will be selling your product directly to potential customers over the phone are known as telephone sales representatives.

Learn More

If you want more detailed information about call centers, like what are the benefits and drawbacks to hiring a call center service provider, read our Call Center Buyer’s Guide.

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