Customer Service Glossary: Main Terms and Definitions To Know

Customer Service Glossary: Main Terms and Definitions To Know

The expansive terminology of customer service is ever-growing. Whether you’re venturing into the world as a new agent or you’re a seasoned support lead, our  comprehensive customer service glossary will provide you with precise definitions and examples to elevate your understanding of customer service.

The glossary is divided into seven categories, starting with basic customer service concepts and ending with technical terms related to metrics and KPIs. 

Start reading below and learn new and old customer service terms.

The 100+ Most Important Customer Service Terms for Agents and Support Teams

Basic customer service concepts

1. Agent

An agent is a customer service representative who assists customers by addressing questions, inquiries, and fulfilling support requests. 

Interested in being an agent? You can start learning with Gorgias Academy’s Agent Training collection and earn your certification.

2. Abandoned cart

An abandoned cart occurs when a customer adds items to their online shopping cart but leaves the website without completing the purchase. Some causes of abandoned carts are high prices, customers preferring competitor products, and complicated checkout pages.

📚 Related reading: How to reduce cart abandonment in 12 ways

3. Channels

A communication platform through which customers can contact customer service agents for assistance. Examples of channels include email, live chat, SMS, and phone. Offering multiple channels lets customers contact a business more easily.

4. Complaint

A complaint is when a customer expresses dissatisfaction with a product, service, or experience. Support teams should aim to have little to no complaints. However, if you do receive a complaint, make sure to take notes as they can provide powerful insights to how your business can improve your process or products.

5. Consumer behavior

Consumer behavior is the pattern of actions that customers take before, during, and after purchasing a product. Companies can get consumer behavior data by interacting with customers and receiving survey answers.

6. Conversational customer service

Conversational customer service focuses on providing customers a relatable, human experience through conversation. This is achieved through the use of friendly, casual language and minimal use of automated responses.

7. Crisis management

Crisis management is about effectively managing customer service during times of crisis or emergencies. A customer service team will need proper crisis management during unexpected events like power outages, product recalls, or staff shortages.

8. Customer-centric

Customer-centric refers to an approach that centers and prioritizes the customer’s needs, desires, and behaviors. For example, a customer-centric brand will regularly ask customers for feedback on their processes and decisions.

9. Customer engagement

Customer engagement refers to how involved a customer is with your business. Higher customer engagement leads to more trust, and potentially, more sales. You can increase customer engagement with more customer interactions and eye-catching marketing campaigns.

10. Customer experience

Customer experience is the overall impression a customer has about your company at all stages of the customer journey. An excellent customer experience occurs when customers feel that a business’ service is personalized to their needs and preferences.

11. Customer feedback

Customer feedback is input from customers about their experiences and is used by businesses to improve their customer service processes and products. Some ways to collect customer feedback is by sending email surveys, implementing website pop-up surveys, and adding reviews to product pages.

12. Customer journey

The customer journey is the path a customer takes from initial brand awareness, purchasing consideration, first purchase, retention, and advocacy.

13. Customer needs

Customer needs are things a customer wants, needs, and desires. Customer service teams should pay attention to customer needs to empathize and have successful communications with customers.

14. Customer retention

Customer retention is the process of maintaining relationships with customers to keep them purchasing and engaged with a business. Customer retention is easier and less costly to maintain than engaging new customers.

15. Customer segmentation

Customer segmentation is the process of dividing customers into groups based on common characteristics to provide targeted support.  For example, a clothing apparel company may divide customers by demographics in order to create suitable ad campaigns for each segment.

16. Customer service

Customer service is assistance and support provided to customers before, during, and after a purchase. Customer service is important for companies to invest in to grow their customers and instill trust in both potential and repeat customers.

17. Data privacy

Data privacy refers to protecting confidential customer data and information, such as full names, addresses, billing information, and phone numbers.

18. Feedback loop

Feedback loop is the cycle of collecting, reviewing, and applying customer feedback to improve products and customer services. The most important part of the loop is to apply customer feedback to demonstrate the importance of your customers’ opinions. 

19. Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that involves working with social media influencers to advertise a business’ products on their social channels. 

Topicals collaborated with influencer, Justin Boone, to advertise their Faded Under Eye Masks on Instagram.

📚 Related reading: How Topicals increased sales by 78% through pre-sales customer conversations

20. Netiquette

Netiquette refers to the etiquette and guidelines for respectful communication online. For ecommerce stores, having proper netiquette includes writing messages with proper grammar and punctuation, refraining from sending too many promotional emails, and respecting customers’ privacy.

21. Personalized customer service

Personalized customer service is a type of customer service that focuses on customizing interactions and service based on a customer’s unique preferences. Creating individual experiences for customers allows them to feel understood on a personal level. 

🧠 Learn more: Why you should implement a personalized customer strategy

22. Proactive support

Proactive support is a customer support approach that anticipates customer needs before they raise a concern. Proactive support does not have to involve agent support and can be accomplished passively through self-service options, such as a chat widget or help center. 

23. Rapport

Rapport is the relationship businesses build with customers. Some characteristics that build good rapport are empathy, supportiveness, and honesty.

24. Reactive support

Reactive support refers to a customer support approach where assistance is provided in response to inquiries or issues as they arise, rather than proactively reaching out to customers.

25. Remote support

Remote support is a type of customer service where agents assist customers by using remote access tools, without needing to be physically present at the customer's location.

26. Resolution

Resolution is the successful solution to a customer’s request or inquiry. 

27. Satisfaction

Satisfaction is the level of contentment a customer experiences after interacting with a business, its products or services. Customer satisfaction is important in order to build trust and gain customer loyalty.

28. Service recovery paradox

Service recovery paradox is the phenomenon where a customer is more loyal after experiencing and having their issue resolved than if they had not encountered the issue in the first place.

29. Social media management

Social media management is the process of monitoring and responding to customer inquiries and feedback on social media platforms. Today, most businesses participate in social media management by being present on various social media platforms.

30. Subject matter expert (SME)

Subject matter experts or SMEs are individuals who specialize in or are highly educated in particular topics. In customer service, support teams can benefit from having subject matter experts who specialize in different topics, to serve different types of customers.

31. Touchpoint

A touchpoint is a point of contact or interaction between a customer and a business. For example, the customer journey has multiple touchpoints like the pre-purchase intent, purchasing decision, and post-purchase stage.

32. Voice of the customer (VoC)

The voice of the customer or VoC is a summary of a customer’s opinions, preferences, and dislikes about a company’s product. The VoC is used to inform and improve a company’s practices, products, and services.

Customer service actions

1. Benchmarking

Benchmarking is the process of comparing a company's performance or practices against industry standards to identify areas for improvement.

2. Conflict resolution

Conflict resolution is the process of finding a solution to a disagreement or dispute. In customer service, conflict resolution is important in order to maintain customer satisfaction and decrease the chance of losing customers. 

📚 Related reading: 17 ways to respond to an angry customer

3. Cross-selling

Cross-selling is the act of offering customers complementary products or services along with a product they are already considering.

4. Customer journey mapping

Customer journey mapping is a visual strategy that maps out a customer’s entire experience with a company. This strategy points out a customer’s needs and processes at every interaction with a company.

5. Digital transformation

Digital transformation is integrating digital technologies to a company’s customer service processes. For example, a brick-and-mortar store may undergo a digital transformation when they begin offering their products online orders.

6. Escalation

Escalation is the process of transferring a customer’s issue to a higher-level support agent who is more skilled at providing the proper solution. Escalation is necessary to address urgent tickets or high-priority customers. For example, a ticket from a loyal customer with a high lifetime value will likely need a higher-level agent.

7. Follow-up

A follow-up is communication meant for checking up on customers who have had a previous interaction with a company. Follow-ups are typically done when asking for customer feedback and reviews.

8. Service recovery

Service recovery is the process of regaining customer satisfaction after a negative experience. For example, service recovery is when a company provides a 50% off discount code due to delayed shipping.

9. Upselling

Upselling is the act of encouraging customers to purchase additional products or a higher-priced variant of a product, which can help increase your company’s revenue and average order value (AOV).

🧠 Learn more: How to upsell in 11 different ways

Customer service tools, types, and channels

1. Call center

A call center is a department that handles incoming and outgoing customer communications, often via telephone. Companies with large customer bases may outsource part of their customer service to a call center company.

2. Chatbot

A chatbot is an AI-powered, self-service feature that mimics human conversation. Chatbots can help agents from having to deal with repetitive inquiries or tickets. 

🧠 Learn more: What’s the difference between a chatbot and live chat?

3. Contact center

A contact center is a hub that manages customer interactions through various channels like email, phone, chat, and social media. Bigger companies may outsource their customer service to a contact center to address a greater number of customers.

4. Customer loyalty

Customer loyalty refers to how devoted a customer is to a business. Loyal customers are valuable to businesses because they result in more sales, higher customer lifetime value, and the potential for more customers through word–of-mouth marketing.

5. Customer persona

A customer persona, also known as a buyer persona, is a fictional representation of a customer, based on demographics, behaviors, and preferences. A business may create multiple customer personas in order to create suitable messaging and marketing materials. 

6. Customer portal

A customer portal is an online platform where customers can access their account information and support resources. Ecommerce stores benefit from customer portals by providing customers a self-service hub to manage orders and request returns or exchanges, without needing agent involvement.

7. Customer relationship management (CRM)

Customer relationship management, more commonly called CRM, or a CRM tool, refers to both software and strategies used to manage and analyze customer interactions and data.

8. Customer self-service portal

A customer self-service portal is a web-based platform that allows customers to find information and resolve issues on their own, without the help of an agent.

9. Helpdesk

A helpdesk is a hub for customer inquiries and technical support. Helpdesks manage customer data, orders, and inquiries in one platform. They can be operated by one person or a team of support agents.

🧠 Learn more: What is a helpdesk?

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10. Interactive voice response (IVR)

Interactive voice response or IVR is an automated phone system that allows customers to get information from preset voice recordings.

11. Knowledge base

A knowledge base is a centralized database of information to help empower customers to learn about a product, service, or company on their own. Resources like instructional videos, FAQs, articles, and community posts can be found in a knowledge base.

12. Live chat

Live chat is a channel which connects customers with live agents. Live chat is a convenient option for ecommerce businesses with a high-traffic website.

13. Loyalty program

A loyalty program is a program designed to encourage customers to continue shopping with a brand through incentives like discounts, freebies, and exclusive access to products or services. An example of a loyalty program is a points-based reward program in which customers can redeem points in exchange for products.

OLIPOP’s Refer a Friend program rewards current customers $15 credit for each new referral they bring in, while also gifting the referred friends $15 off their first order.

📚 Related reading: How OLIPOP decreased their response time by 88% and resolution time by 91% with 25x ROI

14. Multi-channel support

Multi-channel support involves offering customer support through various channels like phone, email, and live chat.

15. Omnichannel support

Omnichannel support is the process of providing consistent customer support across multiple communication channels with the help of application add-ons. With Gorgias, support teams can integrate email, phone, SMS, live chat, and social media accounts to provide a seamless customer experience.

16. Self-service

Self-service options are customer support options that allow users to find answers or solutions independently, without contacting an agent. Self-service options include chat widgets, chatbots, and knowledge bases.

🧠 Learn more: Raise customer satisfaction with self-service options

17. Social listening

Social listening is the process of monitoring and analyzing social media platforms for mentions and comments about a company.

18. Survey

A survey is a set of questions that aims to collect customer feedback, opinions, and reviews about a company, product, or experience. In customer service, surveys are important to gauge overall customer satisfaction with a product.

19. Ticketing system

A ticketing system is a customer service software tool that manages customer support inquiries and improves agent workflow. Gorgias is a helpdesk with a ticketing system, which allows agents to handle customer inquiries by creating and resolving tickets.

📚 Related reading: Best practices for effective ticket management

20. Virtual assistant (VA)

Virtual assistants, also referred to as VAs, are individuals who work remotely and are contracted to assist a business with administrative and technical support. Companies may choose to hire a virtual assistant to increase efficiency, improve data organization, while reducing hiring costs. 

21. Voice

Voice refers to a support channel that uses telephone or voice messages to communicate. Having a voice channel can be a great way to reach customers who prefer to get support over the phone.

22. Widget

A widget is an interactive element on a website that provides an answer to customer inquiries. Widgets are a form of self-service customer service and can include chatbots and interactive quizzes.

A chat widget equipped with a bot that recommends articles to customers.

Customer service operations and ticket management

1. Canned response

A canned response is a pre-written message that is used to reply to common inquiries and questions. Using canned responses is one way to increase first response times (FRT) and prevent your support team from doing repetitive work. 

2. Coaching

Coaching is the process of providing guidance, training, and feedback to customer service agents to develop their ability to engage with customers and deliver exceptional customer service.

3. Service-level agreement (SLA)

A service-level agreement or SLA is a contractually agreed-upon level of service, specifying response times and processes for customer support.

4. Macros

Macros are pre-made responses that can include important customer information pulled from ecommerce platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce. On Gorgias, Macros are advanced canned responses. 

5. Backlog

Backlog refers to customer inquiries or tickets that need attention and have yet to be acknowledged and resolved.

6. Business hours

Business hours refer to the designated working hours during which a company operates and provides customer service.

7. Closed tickets

Closed tickets represent customer inquiries that have been resolved or addressed to the customer's satisfaction.

8. Collision detection

Collision detection is a feature in Gorgias that prevents multiple agents from simultaneously working on the same customer ticket to avoid duplicate or conflicting responses.

9. Conversion rate

Conversion rate refers to the ratio between customers who interact or visit a website and customers who purchase a product or subscribe to a service. Conversion rate measures how effective a sales or marketing strategy is. In other words, it is the difference between window shoppers and first-time customers.

10. Customer intent

Customer intent refers to the underlying reason behind a customer's inquiry. Understanding every customer’s intent can give support teams insight into customer behavior and can highlight the strengths and weaknesses of a product.

11. Customer sentiment

Customer sentiment is the underlying connotation and overall mood of a support ticket or inquiry. Understanding customer sentiment is helpful to engage with customers in pleasant ways. Failing to match a customer’s sentiment may result in losing them as a customer due to a bad customer experience.

📚 Related reading: 15 customer phrases to use and 5 to avoid

12. Customer ticket lifecycle

The customer ticket lifecycle represents the different stages a customer support ticket goes through, from its creation to resolution.

13. Integration

Integration is the process of connecting different applications to a helpdesk, enabling them to share data and increase the efficiency of customer service operations.

14. Intent detection

Intent detection is a feature in Gorgias that automatically identifies a ticket's intent based on its messaging.

15. Onboarding

Onboarding is the process of guiding and assisting new customers to get acquainted with a product or service.

The path of turning a customer service team into a profit center, starting with onboarding.

16. One-touch ticket

One-touch tickets are inquiries that can be resolved in a single interaction without requiring further follow-up.

17. Open tickets

An open ticket is a ticket that has not yet been answered or resolved by a customer service agent.

18. Outsourcing

Outsourcing is the practice of delegating specific tasks to third-party companies. For businesses, this can mean outsourcing some customer service tasks to a call center company.

19. Reassign

Reassigning a ticket means handing over the ownership of a ticket to another agent of the support team. Reassigning tickets is beneficial for balancing the workload or pairing a customer with an agent with more specialized knowledge.

20. Rules

Rules are customizable automations that trigger actions based on pre-set conditions. In Gorgias, Rules offload tedious work by automatically closing, tagging, or assigning tickets to particular agents.

21. Script

A script is a predefined response used by agents during frequent, predictable interactions. Customer service scripts are helpful for answering frequently asked questions, alleviating angry customers, or upselling new products.

22. Shared ownership

Shared ownership is when multiple team members collaborate and take collective responsibility for resolving a customer inquiry or ticket.

23. Ticket routing

Ticket routing is the automated process of transferring support tickets to the most appropriate customer service agent or team based on pre-set Rules.

24. Ticket status

Ticket status refers to the current state of a support ticket, indicating whether it is open, in progress, on hold, or closed.

25. Ticket views

Ticket views in Gorgias are customizable filters that help organize support tickets by certain criteria. For example, one ticket view can display only high-priority tickets, so agents can resolve urgent issues faster.

26. Unassigned ticket

An unassigned ticket is a customer inquiry that has not been assigned to a specific customer service agent for handling.

27. Variables

Variables refer to the elements or properties of a customer support ticket that can store different values or data. Some examples of ticket variables are customer intent, ticket status, and tags.

Gorgias also has a Ticket Fields feature that enables tickets to have custom variables. This allows support teams to label tickets according to their needs.

Customer service soft skills

1. Soft skills

Soft skills are non-technical skills, such as empathy and resourcefulness, that enable effective customer interactions.

2. Active listening

Active listening involves understanding, responding, and remembering what a customer is saying during a conversation.

3. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of customers. Being empathetic is crucial to providing thoughtful customer service that puts the customer first. 

4. Proactive

Being proactive means taking initiative by anticipating potential customer issues, and acting in advance to prevent them from occurring.

5. Resourceful

Being resourceful means having the creativity and inventiveness to find solutions to customer problems. A resourceful agent consults all possible resources, including fellow teammates and team leads, to satisfy customers.

6. Social intelligence

Social intelligence is the capacity to navigate social situations and appropriately participate in interpersonal dynamics based on emotional awareness and empathy.

Metrics and KPIs

1. Key performance indicator (KPI)

Key performance indicators, known as KPIs, are used to evaluate the effectiveness of customer service efforts. KPIs help customer service teams to set goals, establish standards, and maintain excellent service.

2. Average first response time

Average first response time is the average time it takes for your customer service team to send the first response to a customer after receiving a request. 

3. Average handle time

Average handle time is the average time it takes for your customer service team to handle a case from start to finish. 

4. Average hold time

Average hold time is the average time a customer spends on hold before connecting with a support agent.

5. Average response time

Average response time, also known as average reply time, is the average time it takes for your customer service team to get back to a customer throughout an entire customer ticket lifecycle.

6. Call abandonment rate 

Call abandonment rate is the percentage of callers who hang up before speaking to a customer service representative.

7. Call monitoring

Call monitoring refers to listening in on calls to ensure company policies are being followed and agents are providing high-quality assistance. Monitoring calls can help teams collectively find better resolutions and can also prepare them for similar interactions in the future.

8. Call volume

Call volume is the total number of incoming customer calls received by a support team. 

9. Churn rate

Churn rate is the percentage of customers who stop doing business with a company over a specific period, such as over a month or year. Churn rate suggests customer dissatisfaction with a company’s product, service, or policies.

10. Customer effort score (CES)

Customer effort score or CES is a metric that assesses how much effort a customer has to put in to resolve their issue. CES is measured by sending customers a one-question survey asking how much effort was required of them to resolve their issue. Answers range from no effort to very high effort. A successful customer service operation will require little to no effort. 

11. Customer lifetime value (CLV)

Customer lifetime value (CLV) is the projected revenue a customer is expected to generate throughout their relationship with a company. Some ways to increase CLV involve improving customer touchpoints, upselling, reaching out to neutral and unsatisfied customers, and creating a loyalty program. 

12. Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)

Customer satisfaction or CSAT measures general customer satisfaction and happiness with your products or service. CSAT can be measured by collecting customer feedback from surveys and reviews.

🧠 Learn more: 9 ways to improve your CSAT score and response rate

13. Customer support metrics

Customer support metrics are measurements used to evaluate the effectiveness and quality of customer service interactions. Customer service teams can use metrics such as first response time, customer satisfaction scores, churn rate, and other indicators to assess the overall support experience.

14. First call resolution (FCR)

First call resolution or FCR is a call center metric that measures the rate of resolving a customer inquiry within the first call. An excellent FCR rate indicates that a support team is well-trained to be able to solve issues quickly.

15. First response time (FRT)

First response time (FRT), sometimes called first reply time, is how quickly a customer inquiry is acknowledged. Customers expect their questions to be answered as quickly as possible, and FRT is a good measure of how responsive customer service teams are.

16. Net promoter score (NPS)

Net promoter score (NPS) measures customer loyalty and the likelihood of a customer recommending a company’s products or services to others. A high net promoter score can indicate high customer retention and loyalty. A low net promoter score can be a sign that your product or service is decreasing in quality.

17. Service level expectation (SLE)

A service level expectation (SLE) is an agreed-upon standard for the response or resolution time that a customer anticipates from a customer service team. It serves as a performance metric to ensure timely handling of customer inquiries.

18. Service level goal (SLG)

A service level goal (SLG) is the desired or targeted service level for responding to customer inquiries within a specific timeframe.

Service level objective (SLO)

Service level objectives (SLOs) are targets or thresholds for performance metrics like response times or resolution times. SLOs are used to track a team’s performance and ensure high-quality customer service. For example, a support team may be required to respond to emails in no longer than 24 hours. 

19. Retention rate

Customer retention rate is the percentage of existing customers that continue buying from your brand over a given period of time. It directly reflects a brand's ability to retain existing customers, which is more cost-effective than acquiring new customers.

20. Response time

Response time is the total time it takes to respond to customer inquiries, from the time someone reaches out to customer support to the time the issue is resolved. Agents should aim to have a low response time to secure higher customer satisfaction. 

21. Ticket volume

TIcket volume refers to the total number of tickets a customer service team receives in a specified amount of time, such as a day, week, or month. A high ticket volume may indicate unclear company policies or an uninformative website.

22. Turnaround time

Turnaround time is how long it takes for support teams to resolve a customer issue. Websites that offer support can display the turnaround time for each support channel to make customers aware of the approximate time they can receive an answer.

Level up your customer service with Gorgias

Gorgias offers a powerful solution to kickstart and streamline your customer service team. With the ability to automate repetitive tasks and integrate with popular ecommerce platforms like Shopify and Adobe Commerce, your agents can focus on providing personalized support to customers.

Additionally, Gorgias's real-time insights and advanced reporting tools allow you to track agent performance and identify revenue opportunities to keep your customers coming back.

If you’re ready to level up with Gorgias, the first step is to start agent training with Gorgias Academy. If you can’t wait, go ahead and book a demo.

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Check out the other posts in our guide to ecommerce customer service


Ecommerce Customer Service: An Expert Guide
The Importance of Customer Service (According To A VP of CX)
The 15 Customer Service Best Practices You Need to Know
Customer Service Evaluation: How to Measure the Effectiveness and Impact of Your Team
12 Customer Service Challenges Harming Your Team and Revenue
A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Customer Service Operations
A Guide to All the Different Types of Customer Service
16 Essential Customer Service Skills to Manage Any Situation
How TUSHY Approaches Customer Service vs. Customer Experience
85+ Helpful Customer Service Statistics
Customer Service Terms: Glossary and Definitions (This post)

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