Who are you guys?

  • Selecting Outsourcing Vendors

    SPICE is the metholodology I have developed alongside some of the leading minds in the industry to strategise, procurement, implement, manage and improve outsourced operations. SPICE is an acronym for "S" - Strategy, "P" - Procurement "I" - Imlementation, "C" - Control & Innovate and "E" - Exit.  It is the lifecycle for managing outsourcing contracts.  .

  • Rob O'Malley

    I am the founder of call-centres.com with over 23 years of helping organisations to improve the quality of their outsourcing. I was the first person in The UK to gain a Masters Degree specialiaing in outsourcing. I am a published author, a regular speak on contact centres and contributor to publications around the world.

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Glossary of terms used in call centre outsourcing


Abandoned call - is a call which is unanswered by the call centre outsourcer

Accreditations - are received by industry bodies reflecting quality in a specific area

ACD ' stands for automatic call distributor which is used to route calls to the appropriate agent.

Account Manager/Account Director - Part of the Client services team within the outsourced vendor.  They are responsible for liason between the clients and internal departments at the outsourced vendor

Account Ramping - the process of growing an account which already exists within an outsourced vendor.  This would normally happen post-pilot or to cope with increased demand.

Analytics - consists of many aspects but is normally involved around using data to determine and improve results.

Average answer time ' is the call centre metric used to describe the mean average waiting time for each call centre to be answered

Average Handle Time (AHT) ' is a measure of how long it takes it deal with a particular call or other interaction. It includes the time the agent takes on the call (including in-call hold time) and any post call follow up (often referred to as Wrap time)

BDD - is short for Business Development Director.  The person within the outsourced vendor responsible for winning new business.

BDM - is short for Business Development manager.  The person within the outsourced vendor responsible for winning new business

Blended agent ' is a call centre agent who takes both inbound and outbound calls. Inbound calls are generally prioritised and during quiet periods, outbound calls are performed. Modern telephony technology enables the agent to be more efficient when performed correctly.

Build Operate Transfer ' is often referred to as a BOT model. This is where the call centre is outsourced to a third party for a pre-agreed period of time. At the end of that time period, the operation transfers to the client who is then responsible for managing the call centre.

Bureau ' is a term with a number of meanings. It used to be a term used to describe any type of outsourced vendor. It is now often used to describe a shared-agent environment where each caller can receive calls on behalf of multiple clients. This is often used by retailers (especially those using DRTV advertising) where call volumes spike dramatically and its not economical to employ dedicated agents.

Call centre ' is an environment where multiple call centre agents make or receive phone calls. Other terms include contact centre, interaction, customer service centre or telemarketing centre.

Call centre agent ' is an employee who makes or receives calls to/from customers.

Call forecasting - is the process of determing the volume of calls expected to be received on a monthly, daily and intra-day basis

Captive centre ' is the term used to describe a client's in-house call centre as opposed to the outsourced environment.

Call monitoring ' is the process of listening to calls either locally or in a remote environment.

Champion Challenger ' is where a client uses one or more call centres to compete against each other and/or a captive call centre.

CLI ' stands for caller line identification. This is a feature of a telephony system which allows the agent to know which number the customer is calling from. Many systems will enable the agents screen to 'pop' with the relevant customer information if that phone number is stored in the call centre database

Client Services - is the Department responsible for dealing with the client

Compliance - refers to how an outsourced vendors complies with legal, regulatory and company procedures.

Cross media queuing ' is a part of unified communications which enables all interaction types (call, SMS, email etc) to be queued together

CRM system - is the technology used to manage interactions and data

Customer Lifecycle - is a generic term used to describe all interactions points with a customer from acquisition through to default or cancellation

Dedicated agents ' is a term used to describe call centre agents who are dedicated to one particular client as opposed to a bureau environment. The client is then charged on a per-hour on per month basis for each call centre agent.

First call resolution ' is a term used to describe the process where the customer query is satisfied on the first call (or other interaction) without the need for the customer to initiate a follow-up call.

FTE - refers to the number of full-time employees (or full-time equivalent employees) engaged on a project

Hang Up ' is a term with multiple meanings. In a predictive dialler environment, it can be used to describe those calls where the dialler hangs up before being connected with an agent. It can also be used to describe abandoned calls in an inbound call environment. A further use is when mid-call diverts (Hot Key Transfers) are used and the customer hangs up during this process.

Home-based agents ' is a terms used to describe where the agents work from their home rather than a call centre.

Homeshoring (home-shoring) ' is a term used to describe 2 different environments. Some companies use it to describe the process of repatriating the call centre to a domestic environment when it has previously been offshored. Other companies use it to describe where calls are handled by home-based call centre agents.

Hot-Key Transfer ' is the process of transferring a specific call type to another agent. This is often used in outbound lead generation where the outsourced vendor transfers 'hot leads' through to the client's captive centre to finalise certain details. This is often used between offshore outsourced call centres and domestically based captive centres.

Inbound - refers to incoming calls


In-house call centre ' is a term interchangeable with captive call centre.

IVR ' is a technology which enables computers to communicate with customers. This is often used at the beginning of the call to ensure the call is answered by the most appropriate agent.

Lead generation - is the process of using call centres to pre-qualify leads for use by sales teams which should result in a higher conversion rate for the sales team

Leveraged buyout ' is the process by which an outsourced call centre company takes over the operation from a captive facility. The vendor typically buys the assets from the client and then the client agrees to use the vendor to provide call centre services from that facility. This is often used by large clients such as financial institutions to free up capital and focus on their core competencies.

Lifestyle Surveys - are outbound calls made to generate lists to be used in telesales campaigns.  They will ask a customer a series of questions designed to profile them for calls by telesales agents which should then achieve a higher conversion rate than standard cold calling.  Most of this is conducted offshore

Longest call delay ' this is a metric used to describe the longest time a customer is waiting for their call to be answered by an agent

Managed Services - is the term used to describe a non-standard operating model which involves the outsourcing vendor providing infrastructure and the client manages the people. 

Multishoring (multi-shoring) ' is the term used to describe where call centre operations are deployed in multiple countries.

Multisourcing (multi-sourcing) ' is the term used to describe when multiple call centre outsourcing vendors are used across a business.

Nearshoring (near-shoring) ' is the term used to describe an offshoring environment where the location the calls are being handled has a close geographical proximity to where the calls are originated. For The UK, this term is often used to describe calls handled in Northern Ireland, The Republic of Ireland or Central & Eastern Europe. For The USA, this term is often used to describe locations such as Mexico, The Dominican Republic or South America.

Net Promoter Score - is a measure used to determine the satisfaction rates among customers

Non Voice BPO - is the term used to describe outsourcing activity other than call centre work.

Offshoring ' is the term used to describe when a call centre operation is placed in an overseas country. This includes both offshore outsourcing and captive offshore facilities.

Open Book Pricing - is a pricing mechanism whereby the outsourced vendor charges based on the actual cost of delivery plus a mark up

Order Taking - Order taking call centres are ones which typically only take orders without any upselling

Outbound call ' is an outbound call conducted by the call centre often used in telemarketing.

Outsourcing ' is the term used to describe when a call centre operation is handled by a third party organisation.

Peak calls/peak call flow - this normally relates to the maximum number of simulataneous calls received.

Per call billing ' is a method by which the call centre outsourcing company charges its clients. The outsourced vendor charges a fee for each call answered regardless of duration. Sometimes, different call types are charged at different rates.

Per minute billing ' is the term used to describe where the client of the outsourced vendor is charge a fee for each minute of the call. The metrics behind this vary from outsourcer to outsourcer and is often used in a bureau style facility.

Pilot project - is the term used to describe a small-scale test project. During the pilot project, the client and outsourced vendor will assess the viability of the project before rolling out on a larger scale.

PQQ - a PQQ is a pre-qualification questionnaire designed to ascertain basic information from potential outsourcing vendors with a view to them being taken to the next stage of the tender process.

Predictive Dialler - is a telephony technology used in outbound calling which dials a list of telephone numbers, screening out no-replies, engaged tones, answering machines and disconnected numbers while predicting at what point a call centre agents will be able to handle the next call.

Productive hour ' is a method of the call centre outsourcing company to bill its clients. A productive hour is where the client is charged a fee per hour for the amount of time the agent is ready and able to make or receive calls.

Quality monitoring - is the process used to ascertain how an agent is performing against a series of pre-defined criteria.

Quality process outsourcing - is the process of outsourcing the assessment of quality assessment to a third party company.

Remote listening - is often referred to as remote monitoring.  This is where a client is given the ability to listen to live telephone calls from outside of the call centre

RFI - RFI stands for Request for Information.  This is part of the tender process used in the early stages in order to pre-qualify potential outsourcing vendors who are then put through to an RFP

RFP - RFP stands for Request for Proposal.  This is the part of the tender where outsourcing vendors who have been pre-qualified are asked to submit a detailed proposal covering aspects such as technology, operational and pricing components.

Rightshoring (right-shoring) ' is where a call centre operation is placed in a specific location which is felt will best serve the needs of the operation.

Rightsizing - is the process of finding the most suitable call centre operation for the size and type of work you are looking to outsource

Self-service - is the process of replacing live call centre agents with automated systems

Screen pop - is a feature of a computer telephony integration (CTI) application that automatically displays all of the relevant caller and account information on an agents screen during a call.

Script - (See Telemarketing Script)

Shared agents - agents who take calls for multiple clients (see pay per call)

Short calls - has a number of meanings but in this context, it normally refers to the number of calls where the recipient of a telemarketing calls immediately hangs up the call. This is very common when using offshore call centres.

Site Visit - is the process of a client or prospective client visiting a call centre to assess its capabilities

Skills based routing- is a feature of an ACD which routes the call to the most appropriate agent based on the call centre agents specific skill sets.

SPH - is short for sales per hour.  This is normally calculated as the number of sales made per agent per day

Talk time - (see average call duration)

Telemarketing Scripts - A telemarketing script is the pre-agreed words used by the call centre agent during a telemarketing call

Telephone Answering Service - is a company which takes calls on behalf of a multitude of different companies which are normally very small.  They are very popular in the construction trade and for sole traders who work out of an office environment

Timesheet hour ' is a method of the call centre outsourcing company to bill its clients. It differs from a productive hour in that all of the agents time including things such as training and breaks are charged for. The cost of a timesheet hour is typically 20% lower than a productive hour.

Train the trainer ' is often referred to as TTT. This is where the client trains the trainers of the outsourced operation who in turn train the call centre agents and other relevant personnel.

Vendor manager ' is a common term used to describe the client representative whose role it is to manage the relationship with the outsourced partner

Voice of the customer - is a term used to define how customers feel about the experience they receive.  In the perspective of the call centre, it calculates a number of factors and feeds back on areas of improvement

Welcome calls- the process of contacting a new customer to check their satisfaction and/or selling additional products or services.

Workforce Management - are the people (normally within the outsourced vendor) who are responsible for determining headcounts of agents required based on anticipated call flows.

Wrap time - is the time taken at the end of the telephone call to take any post call actions such as entering information into a computerised system

24 hour call centre - quite simply refers to a call centre which is open 24 hours a day typically 365 or 364 days a year