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BPO Glossary

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Abandoned call

This refers to calls in which a customer hangs up before speaking to an agent.


Also known as a brand specialist or customer service representative, the agent handles customer service calls and other BPO needs.


This refers to average handling time. AHT measures the average amount of time agents spend talking to customers, including time on hold and time spent resolving the customer’s issues.


This refers to accounts payable.


This refers to accounts receivable.


This refers to business to business. In BPO, B2B typically refers to the inbound and outbound calling between businesses.


This refers to business to customer. In BPO, B2C typically refers to the inbound and outbound calling between a business and its customers.

Back office

In outsourcing, “back office” refers to tasks that are normally not public-facing. These may include finance, accounting, and human resources.

Blended agent

This refers to an agent who can take both inbound and outbound calls.

Blended call center

This refers to call centers and BPO bases of operation that can handle inbound and outbound calls as well as SMS, social media, online chat, and customer emails.


BPO stands for business process outsourcing. This refers to outsourcing various business needs to a third-party business.

Business Intelligence

Business intelligence (BI) provides strategies and technologies for use in analyzing and managing data analysis and information to improve outcomes.

Business Process Improvement (BPI)

Optimizing business processes from small improvements to complete overhaul to achieve better efficiency and productivity.

Call Center

An entity that employs agents who handle inbound and outbound calls for the purpose of customer service, sales and more.


A computer program designed to simulate human conversation via online chat.

Customer Experience Management (CEM)

Methods to improve customer experience through tracking interactions between call center agents and customers. More: Inbound Customer Service


CRM stands for customer relationship management. A CRM is a system that provides automation and customization options to agents who are trying to better identify customer needs and facilitate customer solutions.


This refers to a document management system that scans emails for manual distribution, thus removing the need to do so manually.


This refers to a Dialed Number Identification Service that helps agents identify who is calling for which business, helping them to answer the phone appropriately.


Short for electronic commerce, e-commerce refers to doing business online.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

Planning occupancy levels for front- and back-office functions.

Escalation Plan

Plan to handle both an overload in the call queue and when inbound customer calls cannot be resolved on first contact with call center agent and must be moved to a supervisor.

Expected Wait Time (EWT)

The time a customer is expected to wait before speaking to a call center agent.


This refers to finance and accounting.


This refers to first-call resolution, which is when an agent is able to resolve a customer’s issue on the very first call.


This stands for full-time equivalent. In BPO, an FTE is someone who is dedicated entirely to a single client.

Front office

In outsourcing, “front office” refers to tasks that are normally public-facing. These may include sales, marketing, support, and customer service.


Simulating game play with points and rewards, generally digitally, to encourage engagement with work goals and/or products and services.

HIPPA Compliant

Adhering to the requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 by protecting the privacy of US patients, among other provisions.

Home agent

This refers to agents who are working outside of your call center or place of business (including agents working from home).

Inbound Call

Customer-initiated call typically for help with products and services, account information or to place an order.

KPI – Key Performance Indicator

A defined objective to measure a company’s effectiveness at reaching its goals and achievements.

Knowledge management system

This refers to sources such as databases that provide agents with information about customers.

Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO)

Outsourcing functions that require a high level of expertise and special knowledge.

Language Levels

Standard by which speaking a foreign language is measured, to include elementary, limited working proficiency, professional working proficiency and full professional proficiency.

Live chat

This refers to real-time online chats between customers and agents.


Using multiple communication channels to engage with others, including social media, email, voice and more. In a call center, inbound and outbound agents will use multi-channel methods to engage, sell and upsell products and services.


Nearshore means a business is outsourcing to a third party in a country that either borders its own country or is otherwise very close. A common arrangement in America is outsourcing to businesses located in Mexico. In this case, the third party is very aware of the other country’s language and customs while still charging less than onshore BPO businesses.


Offshore means a business is outsourcing to a third party in another country that is farther away. The most well-known example of this is outsourcing customer service to businesses located in India.


This refers to a cross-channel strategy in which customers have multiple opportunities to engage with a brand. A common example of this is buying something online and then picking it out in a local store.


Onshore means a business is outsourcing to a third party located within the same country. This has many advantages (including the third party better understanding the language and customs of the country), but also some disadvantages (for example, onshore BPO is usually more expensive).

Outbound Call

Call initiated by a call center agent to a customer or potential customer for reasons specific to the company. This includes informational, surveys, sales, lead generation and more.

PCI Compliant

Adhering to established standards for the handling of credit cardholder data to prevent security breaches and data theft.

Predictive dialer

This refers to a machine that dials contacts while selectively screening certain calls. This includes screening disconnected numbers, answering machines, busy signals, and non-answered calls.

Shared Service Center

A defined zone that includes all of the necessary components to carry out a variety of specific business functions successfully.


This refers to a service-level agreement. In BPO, an SLA clearly defines the terms and responsibilities of an outsourcing business relationship.

Workforce management

This refers to a process that helps make an institution more productive on both a micro-and macro-level.

Wrap time

This refers to how long an agent spends completing work on behalf of a customer after a call.