These are the call center jargons you should know about if you’re a call center newbie. I’ve focused on the commonly used ones. If you know all these, you can pretty much navigate the call center world without any confusion.

Without further ado, here are the useful call center jargons newbies should know to survive.

1. BPO

BPO means Business Process Outsourcing. It’s when a company hires another company to do certain tasks for them. For example, an online store like eBay hires a call center company from the Philippines to handle their customer calls for them.

Now why would eBay hire a call center company in the Philippines to handle their phone customer service? Several reasons: Convenience, flexibility, and a dirt cheap cost. The salary for a call center agent in the US could already pay 3-4 agents in the Philippines.

Note: BPO is a huge umbrella and it doesn’t always have to be a call center. It could be a company of virtual assistants, graphic designers, and programmers.

2. Call center/ contact center

A call center or contact center is simply an office where agents make and receive calls or send and answer emails.

3. Account

Account is the client company that a call center is working for. Let’s say eBay hires Convergys (a call center), then eBay is basically the account.

If someone asks you, “So, which account are you in?”, then just mention the name of the client company of the call center you’re working for.

Note: a call center company can serve multiple accounts.

4. Inbound

Inbound is when agents wait for calls from customers.

  • This is the case with customer service hotlines where customers ask questions and agents answer.
  • Or when customers have issues with the products and services they paid for and they need an agent to fix the problems for them.
  • Or if a customer wants to book an appointment.

5. Outbound

Outbound call center means the one making the calls are the agents.

  • This is the case in sales where the account’s goal is to sell their products and services to potential customers.
  • Another example is a call center company like SSI (formerly Opinionology) which specializes in conducting surveys. In this type of call center, the agents’ goal is to call certain groups of people and ask them for their opinion on certain matters.

6. CSR

CSR means Customer Service Representative. If someone is a CSR, it means he helps customers and address their concerns.


TSR means Technical Support Representative. Think of it like a CSR only the issues a TSR handles is more on a technical side like fixing a computer or internet connection.

8. Sales Rep

Sales representative calls customers to sell products and services in behalf of a company.

9. Product Training

Product Training is the stage of your call center training when you have to learn everything you need to know about the account you’re assigned to represent.

During this stage, you will learn the company’s processes, policy, and the applications and software you need to do your job. This involves a lot of memorization.

10. Tools

Tools are the software and applications that you need to use to pull up customers’ files, make a call, or process a refund for the customers. Depending on the account, the number and types of tools you need to use vary. You will learn to use these tools during your Product Training.

11. Mock call

A mock call or call simulation is a test where you, as an applicant or as a trainee, act as a call center agent while your trainee or interviewer acts as your customer. This test is done to test your call center handling skills.

Here’s a video I created to show you an example of a mock call.

YouTube video

12. Nesting

Nesting is your transition period between training and the time you start taking actual calls.

During this stage, you’re assigned to sit with an agent while he’s taking calls and you will listen to his calls live through a headset. This way, you can get a feel of your actual tasks and ask questions when the agent is not busy.

This stage only last for a maximum of 3 days so you should make the most of it and absorb as much as you can.

13. Sup call

Sup call is the short term for supervisor call. A regular call becomes a sup call when a customer specifically asks to speak with a supervisor or if you’ve tried to de-escalate the call to no avail. When a call turns into a sup call, you simply inform your team leader (TL) about it and then transfer the call.

14. Warm transfer

Warm transfer means that before transferring the call to a TL or another agent, you first inform that TL or that other agent about the call so she can better prepare for it. This means giving her the customer’s intent for the call and the background info she needs. Here’s a sample dialogue of a warm transfer.

Agent 1 calls Agent 2.

Agent 2: Hi, Candace.

Agent 1: Hello Erin. I have a customer on the other end of line who’s asking for you. She says it’s something about her refund. Do you need the order number?

Agent 2: Yes, please.

Agent 1: It’s order 12345 and her name is Sue Millers.

Agent: 2: Thank you. Just give me one moment to check her account, please… Oh, I got it. Okay you can transfer her now.

Agent 2: Okay, thanks!

Agent 2 then reconnects with the customer that was on hold.

Agent 2 to Customer: Thank you for waiting, Sue. I have informed Erin about your call and I will now transfer you to her. One moment, please.

Customer: Thank you!

Call is then transferred.

15. Cold transfer

Cold transfer is the opposite of warm transfer. Meaning, a call is transferred without informing the next agent about the transfer and without any information about who’s calling and why.

The call is simply transferred automatically and it’s up to the second agent to ask the customer’s info the second time.

In customer service, warm transfer is typically preferred because it’s more professional and easier for all parties involved.

16. ACW

ACW means After-Call Work. Simply put, this is the work you do after the end of each customer’s call. Depending on the call, your after-call work varies.

For example, the customer is following up for a refund he hasn’t received. In this case, your after-call work would involve emailing the Refunds Department and following up on the customer’s behalf.

Usually, the maximum allowed ACW time for each call is 2 minutes. If you exceed that, then prepare to hear your TL’s shrill voice shouting, “ACW!” at you. It means, “Hurry up! You’ve already exceeded the allowed ACW limit.” 🙁

17. Avail

Avail means Available. When the TL shouts, “Avail!” on the floor, she means you should change your status to “Available” so the calls could come in and you could start taking calls.

You could also say avail to say the lines aren’t busy and no calls are coming in. For example:

Agent 1: How’s the queue yesterday?

Agent 2: Oh it’s avail. There weren’t many customers calling probably because it was the New Year.

18. Queuing

Queuing is the opposite of avail. If someone says it’s queuing, it means there are lots of customers waiting on the line. If the queue is unusually long, your Team Lead might also help taking calls.

19. Escalate/ De-escalate

Escalating a call means transferring a call to someone with higher authority (like a Team Lead or an Escalation Department) because you could no longer help the customer and/ or she’s demanding to talk to someone with a higher authority/ skills (Team Lead or Escalation Department) to solve her problems.

As much as possible, your goal as the first agent is to de-escalate the call if you can solve her problem. However, if her problem is something that only a higher authority could solve, then your only option is to escalate.

20. Auto-in

Auto-in means automatic in.

If it’s an inbound auto-in it means the calls that you’re going to receive will not ring. Instead, the system will automatically pick them up for you.

If it’s an outbound auto-in, the system will dial the numbers to call instead of you doing the dialing. This also means there is not much time for you to rest between calls.

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