Skip to main content

Article 8 min read

Customer service acronyms explained

Learn what 30 of the most common customer service acronyms mean.

By Kristen Hicks

Last updated February 15, 2022

Across industries, people tend to fall into the habit of using acronyms to describe common concepts that they encounter. Customer service representatives are no exception.

However, for anyone new to the industry or trying to understand it from the outside, acronyms, shorthand or slang terms make communication confusing and difficult. And even people who have worked in customer service for years may still come across the occasional acronym that leaves them scratching their heads.

For people who want to understand the world of customer service better, getting to know the common customer service abbreviations thrown around by experienced professionals is valuable.

Thirty common customer service acronyms

Maybe you’re a brand-new customer support representative, an experienced customer service manager or a member of a sales team trying to make sense of your communications with customer service. Whatever your role, bookmarking this list of customer service and call centre acronyms can help you communicate with your colleagues more effectively.

  1. AHT – AHT stands for average handling time, a metric that tracks how long it usually takes to solve a customer service ticket. Many customer support departments use it to track how well agents are doing at providing a speedy response to customers.
  2. AI – A common shortening for artificial intelligence, AI is a hot topic in the business world in general and often comes up in the context of technological customer support tools. For example, chatbots that employ AI can take a portion of customer service work off the shoulders of human agents.
  3. BI – BI, or business intelligence, is the term tied to the process of using technology to collect data relevant to the business and then turning it into actionable insights. Customer service software and the data that it produces makes up just one part of BI, but it’s important for allowing management to gain visibility into the customer experience.
  4. CEM – CEM stands for customer experience management, the collection of processes, tasks and tools that a business deploys to understand and improve the customer journey. A key part of CEM is gaining a single view of the different interactions that a customer has with a brand and how they all connect so that you can understand the larger customer experience.

  5. CMS – In the world of customer service, and particularly in call centres, this stands for call-management system. It’s a central piece of call centre technology that helps agents handle large volumes of calls more efficiently.
    Be warned: CMS is an acronym where context really matters. Its most common business use is to describe a content-management system, which may include a customer service knowledge base. And for customer service representatives in the US who work in government or healthcare, it’s most common use will be ‘Center for Medicaid and Medicare services’. Whenever you use it, make sure that it’s clear to your audience which meaning you intend.

  6. CRM – CRM stands for customer-relationship management, the practice of working to understand and manage relationships effectively, from a person’s first interaction with the company throughout their time as customers.
    In practice, CRM is often used to describe the software used for customer-relationship management, rather than the practice itself. A CRM system is a technological product that enables companies to track and handle all aspects of customer relationships effectively, throughout the entire customer journey.
  7. CRO – Conversion-rate optimisation, or CRO, is the process of designing online experiences in a way that increases the percentage of people who take the desired action. While the term is used more often in sales and marketing contexts, it can also apply in some customer service scenarios.
  8. CSAT A shortening of the term ‘customer satisfaction’, CSAT is used to describe a score produced from providing customers with a short survey asking them to rate their service experience.

  9. CSS – In the customer service industry, CSS stands for customer self-service, a type of customer support that’s focused on providing customers with the information that they need to solve their own problems. It includes resources such as an in-depth customer Help Centre or AI chatbot that allow customers to find an answer without having to talk to someone.
    Be warned: A more common usage of CSS, especially in technological fields, is to describe the programming language cascading style sheets. If programmers or developers are in your audience, that’s what they’ll think of when they hear this acronym.
  10. CTA – A CTA, or call to action, is the language used to encourage a prospect or customer to take a specific step. Common examples include ‘Contact us’ or ‘Learn more’.
  11. CTI – Computer-telephony integration is any type of product that enables companies to integrate their phone and digital interactions into one interface.
  12. CTR – CTR is a shortening of ‘click-through rate’, the percentage of clicks that a link gets compared with the number of views that it has. While the metric is more common in marketing than customer service, it can be a useful measure for determining how well support articles are performing.
  13. CX – A common way of shortening the phrase customer experience, CX is a term that’s used to describe taking a larger look at how a customer perceives and interacts with a brand than simply their customer service interaction. Providing excellent customer service is one part of the overall customer experience, and many brands are working to gain a broader view of customer success.
  14. EOD – A general business term, EOD means end of day. It’s most often used to clarify deadlines.
  15. EOL – ‘End of life’ is a term used to describe when a piece of technology, or a particular version of a piece of technology, will no longer be supported by a company. This can include no longer providing customer support for it.
  16. FCR – First-contact resolution, or first-call resolution in the context of call centres, is a metric that tracks how often customers’ problems are solved during their first interaction with a representative.
  17. HR – HR, or human resources is the department in a business devoted to recruitment, training, and managing employee benefits and complaints. While most of customer service is focused on helping the external customer, HR representatives often see their job as providing internal customer service.
  18. KB – KB stands for knowledge base, a collection of resources on a particular topic. For businesses, internal knowledge bases are used to store and organise important business information. External knowledge bases can be set up to help enable customer self-service.
  19. KPI – KPIs, or key performance indicators, are the metrics that a company or department chooses to prioritise in order to track the progress of their primary goals.
  20. NPS – NPS stands for net promoter score, an important customer service metric produced by sending customers a survey asking them to rank numerically how likely they are to recommend the brand. It produces data that customer service departments can use to measure overall customer success.
  21. QA – QA, or quality assurance, is the overall process put into place by a company to avoid any errors or issues with their products and services. It can include inspecting inventory to ensure that it works as expected, carrying out user testing for a software product or tracking and analysing customer service metrics.
  22. ROI – ‘Return on investment’, frequently shortened to ROI, is a business term used to measure how well the amount spent on products and labour is paying off in terms of profits.
  23. SaaS – ‘Software as a service’ is a business model based on selling a subscription to a piece of technology that will be renewed monthly or annually.
  24. SBR – Skills-based routing, sometimes shortened to SBR, is a technique that customer service departments can use to ensure each ticket gets sent to the most appropriate agent based on their strengths and skills.
  25. SMB – This acronym describes the business category that includes small and medium-sized businesses. It’s often used to distinguish between these and enterprise businesses.
  26. SLA – A service-level agreement, or SLA, is a written statement of the standards committed to by a customer service team. It’s a useful tool for incentivising customer service agents to perform at the highest level.
  27. UX – A shortened form of ‘user experience’, UX describes an area of design focused on ensuring that websites, software and apps are intuitive and user friendly. UX has an influence on the overall CX.
  28. UI – The user interface is the part of the software that the user interacts with directly. It plays a key role in UX, and how well it’s designed can influence how often customers need help from Support versus being able to work out how to use a product on their own.
  29. VOIP – Voice over Internet Protocol is the technology that allows people to make phone calls using broadband Internet. It’s a common feature in modern customer service contact centres.
  30. WOM – WOM, or word of mouth, is what your customers and prospects have to say about your brand. Building positive word of mouth is one of the best signs of customer service success.

When to use (and not use) customer service acronyms

Customer service acronyms can function as time savers whenever you’re communicating with someone in the know. But if you use them in the wrong context, they can become a barrier to communication.

Many of the acronyms on our list of abbreviations that are understood by colleagues will cause confusion if you use them with a customer. And some common customer service phrases can’t reasonably be made into an acronym without being confused with other common terms. For example, CS could mean customer support, customer success, customer service or even computer science.

While customer service acronyms are valuable to know, in many cases you’re better off spelling out what you mean to say. Knowing when and how to use them is at least as important as knowing their meaning.

Related stories

5 min read

What are Zendesk tags?

At Zendesk, we’re all about making your life simpler and better. It’s why our software is…

5 min read

Improve Net Promoter Score with customer service software

The world is more unpredictable than ever before. Responding to constant economic, social, environmental, and political…

7 min read

Customer service reports every business needs

Zendesk’s CX Trends 2023 Report found that 40 per cent of business leaders now view customer…

5 min read

Zendesk triggers: what you need to know

Staying on top of customer service can be tricky—especially when customers are demanding more. For example,…