Customer service terms everyone should know

By Andrew Gori

Published May 29, 2017
Last updated May 29, 2017

Sometimes it can seem as if the customer support business has a language of its own. In some cases, the words and phrases are familiar to anyone—”agent” or “self-service”, for example—but the context in which you use them makes them completely different. In other instances, the customer service terms you talk about as a team don’t even qualify as words, consisting instead of initials—CSAT, NPS, KCS, and so on. Whatever form these terms take, their meaning may or may not be evident to the entire team, depending on the team member’s role and experience level.

Yet there’s no question that everyone working in customer support needs to understand each other, and what matters to their companies and customers. It’s a precursor to optimizing the support you provide and to keeping both team members and customers happy. Still, there’s a chance some people are simply nodding or keeping quiet when they hear customer service buzzwords they don’t know. Maybe they use words and phrases themselves that they couldn’t fully explain if asked. Perhaps you’ve even done this yourself once or twice.

To “translate” the language of the business, we’ve put together a glossary of customer service terms commonly encountered in a support organization. We picked them according to their frequency of use, value to team leaders and agents, and prominence in our customer service guides:

  1. Customer Experience
  2. Agent Experience
  3. Agent Life Cycle

You’ll find not only short definitions of these important words and phrases, but also brief explanations of why they’re important.

While our decision of what to include in this list might seem somewhat arbitrary, we think it provides a good start in expanding a team’s customer support vocabulary. So quiz yourself to see how many of the 30 words and phrases you already know. Make the glossary a resource for your organization to add to its collective knowledge. Share it with people on your current team and with new members so they can get up to speed quickly. Use it to learn something new that helps you and everyone else in your operation work smarter. Be confident that you and those you work with understand the language of your field.

We created this document to provide an easy-to-access, easy-to-use resource for your team. However you find it helpful, we hope you will think of our glossary of must-know terms as your indispensible customer support cheat sheet. And if you believe we’ve missed any important terms and phrases, help us make the glossary even more valuable by telling us what else we should consider adding.

Read Zendesk’s glossary of essential customer service terms for any support organization.