Help Desk Glossary of Terms

Help Desk Glossary of Terms
List of Help Desk Industry Terms
Download this glossary of help desk industry terms to better understand industry jargon.

24 X 7 support

Service desk services that are provided 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

abandon rate percent

The percentage of abandoned calls compared to the total number of calls received.

abandoned call

A call where the caller hangs up before an analyst answers.

access management

The process responsible for granting authorized users the right to use a service in accordance with the company's security policies, while preventing access to non-authorized users.


How easily the service desk can be reached by service desk staff, other employees of the company, and customers.

ACD supervisor console

A system that works with ACD systems and enables supervisors to monitor call volumes and the performance of individual service desk analysts or groups of analysts.

acoustic shock

The term used to describe the symptoms such as discomfort and pain that a person may experience after hearing a loud, unexpected sound via a telephone or headset.

active listening

When the listener participates in a conversation and gives the speaker a sense of confidence that he or she is being heard.

announcement system

Technology that greets callers when all service desk analysts are busy and can provide valuable information as customers wait on hold.

application of training investments

A comparison of an analyst's resolution percent before and after attending training.


Anything that contributes to the delivery of an IT service such as financial capital, people, hardware, software, network and communication components, and information.

asset management

The process responsible for tracking and reporting on the value and ownership of assets throughout their lifecycle.

automated attendant

An ACD feature that routes calls based on input provided by the caller through a touch-tone telephone.

automatic call distributor (ACD)

Technology that answers a call and routes, or distributes, it to the next available analyst. If all analysts are busy, the ACD places the call in a queue and plays a recorded message, such as "We're sorry, all of our service representatives are currently assisting other customers; your call will be answered in the order it has been received."

automatic number identification (ANI)

A service provided by a long distance service provider that delivers the telephone number of the person calling.

available state

An ACD state that occurs when an analyst is ready to take calls.


The length of time an analyst was signed on to the ACD compared to the length of time the analyst was scheduled to be signed on.

average call duration

The average length of time required to handle a call.

average speed of answer (ASA)

The average time it takes an analyst to pick up an incoming call.

average wait time

The average number of minutes a caller waits for an analyst after being placed in the queue by an ACD; also known as average queue time.


A computer user's representation of himself or herself.


A company that is the finest in its relative industry peer group. For example, a best-in-class manufacturing company is considered excellent by its customers when compared only to other manufacturing companies.

best practice

A proven way of completing a task to produce a near optimum result.

blended call center

A call center that receives incoming calls and makes outgoing calls.


The process of comparing the service desk's services, standardized metrics, and practices to those of a rival or world class company in an effort to identify ways it can improve.

business skills

The skills people need to work successfully in the business world, such as the ability to understand and speak the language of business; the skills that are unique to the industry or profession the service desk supports, such as accounting skills or banking skills (industry knowledge); also the skills that are specific to the customer service and support industry, such as understanding the importance of meeting customers' needs and knowing how to manage their expectations (service industry knowledge).


A technique performed by a group of people and designed to generate a large number of ideas for solving a problem.

business process management (BPM)

A systematic approach to improving an organization's business processes.

business relationship management

The process responsible for maintaining a good relationship between a service provider and its customers.


A journal kept on the Internet; short for Web log.


A metric used to show a starting point.

beginning of day (BOD)

A list of tasks an analyst performs at the start of each workday.


Measurements of a person's physical characteristics such as a finger or palm print, facial features, or features of a person's eye such as the retina or iris.

call center

A place where telephone calls are made or received in high volume for one or more customers.


Routes of communication to and from the help desk, such as the telephone, voice mail, e-mail, and the Web.


A person who buys products or services.

customer satisfaction

The difference between how a customer perceives he or she was treated and how the customer expects to be treated.

customer service

Services that ensure customers receive maximum value for the products or services they purchase.

customer support

Services that help a customer understand and benefit from a product's capabilities by answering questions, solving problems, and providing training.

centralized service desk

A single service desk that supports all of the technologies used by its customers.

computer-based training (CBT)

Computer software packages used to train and test people on a wide range of subjects.

contact center

A call center that uses technologies such as e-mail and the Web in addition to the telephone.

cost center

A service desk in which the budget items required to run the service desk are considered a cost (expense) to the company.

customer relationship management (CRM)

A program that involves using customer contact and relationship information to generate additional sales and increase levels of customer service and retention.

computer virus

A software program that can "infect" a computer by storing itself in the computer's memory or attaching itself to program or data files.

cost benefit analysis

A business calculation that compares the costs and benefits of two or more potential solutions in order to determine an optimum solution.


Recording the type of incident being reported.

cause and effect analysis

A technique used to generate the possible problem causes and their effect.

change advisory board (CAB)

A separate group or a committee that is responsible for assessing the readiness of nonstandard changes to the production environment.

change management

The process responsible for controlling changes to the production environment while minimizing service disruptions.

change manager

The person who coordinates all change management activities and ensures approved changes represent an acceptable level of possible and probable risk and impact.

configuration items (CIs)

The individual records that are stored in an organization's configuration management system, such as IT assets, buildings, and documents such as SLAs, processes, and procedures.

configuration management

The process that focuses on capturing non-financial information about IT assets along with how the assets are related or configured.

configuration management database (CMDB)

A database that is used to store configuration records throughout their lifecycle.

configuration management system (CMS)

A set of tools and databases for managing IT asset information and linking that information to related incidents, problems, known errors, changes, and releases.


The amounts paid to produce a product, such as workers' wages, salaries and benefits; the facilities and equipment workers use; and any materials and supplies they consume.

customer entitlement

The determination of whether the customer is authorized to receive support and, if so, the level of support the customer should receive.

caller identification (caller ID)

A service provided by a local telephone company that delivers the telephone number of the person calling and when available the name associated with the calling telephone number.


A unit of information, such as an online document, a database record, or the solution to a common incident, which is indexed so an analyst can easily locate it when needed.

case-based reasoning (CBR)

A searching technique that uses everyday language to ask users questions and interpret their answers.

case-based system

A system made up of (1) cases and (2) a set of question and answer pairs that can be used to confirm the solution to the incident.

computer telephony integration (CTI)

The linking of computing technology with telephone technology to exchange information and increase productivity.

customer surveying system

A system that is used to create and distribute questionnaires to customers and to collect and tabulate the results of their feedback.


A document awarded to a person who has demonstrated that he or she has certain skills and knowledge about a particular topic or area.

CompTIA A+

A certification that measures a technician's knowledge of hardware and operating system technologies and concepts, along with topics such as security, safety and environmental issues, and communication and professionalism.

cost per contact

Historically called cost per call; the total cost of operating a service desk for a given period (including salaries, benefits, facilities, and equipment) divided by the total number of contacts (calls, e-mails, faxes, Web requests, and so on) received during that period.

cost per unit

The total cost of operating a service desk for a given period (including salaries, benefits, facilities, and equipment) divided by the total number of units (such as devices and systems) supported during that period.

critical success factor (CSF)

A measurable characteristic that must exist for something - such as a process, project or team - to be viewed as successful.

customer data

Identifying details about a customer, including the customer's name, telephone number, email address, department or company name, physical address or location, customer number, and employee number or user ID.

customer record

All of the fields that describe a single customer.

customer satisfaction survey

A series of questions that ask customers to provide their perception of the support services being offered.

carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)

A common repetitive stress injury that affects the hands and wrists and is linked to repetitious hand movements, such as typing on a computer keyboard, pinching a mouse, or repeatedly clicking a mouse.

computer vision syndrome

A variety of ailments such as headaches and eyestrain that occur as a result of staring at a computer monitor for a prolonged period of time.


The construction of new systems.


To send or route.

decentralized service desks

Multiple service desks, each of which supports specific products or customer communities.


The person who initially handles customer problems, requests, or inquiries; also called a service desk agent, customer care agent, customer service representative, or call screener.


A bright display that sends out visual and, in some cases, audible messages to service desk staff and to customer sites that have dashboards installed; also known as electronic reader board.


Raw facts that are not organized in a meaningful way.

decision tree

A branching structure of questions and possible answers designed to lead an analyst to a solution.

dialed number identification service (DNIS)

A service that provides the number the person called when they call using a toll-free number or a 1-900 service.

ethical behavior

Conduct that conforms to generally accepted or stated principles of right and wrong.


The rules and standards that govern the conduct of a person or group of people.

external customer

A person or company that buys another company's products and services.

escalation (or escalate)

To raise an incident from one level to another, such as from level one to level two, to dedicate new or additional resources to the incident.

external service desk

A service desk that supports customers who buy its company's products and services (external customers).

emergency change

A change that must be introduced as soon as possible to repair an error in an IT service that has a high impact on the business.

e-mail response management system

A system that enables service desks to manage high volume chat, e-mail, and Web form messages.


A measure of how completely and accurately services are delivered.


A measure of the time and effort required to deliver services in relation to their cost.

employee performance plan

A document that clearly describes an analyst's performance requirements and individual improvement objectives.

event-driven survey

A customer satisfaction survey that asks customers for feedback on a single, recent service event.

exit poll

A measurement technique that, on the Internet, combines questions such as "Was this information helpful to you?" with Yes and No buttons that customers can use to provide feedback.


The science of people-machine relationships that intended to maximize productivity by reducing operator fatigue and discomfort.

follow the sun

A service desk approach that enables an organization to provide 24-hour coverage by having regional service desks working only during the usual business hours for their location.

front-line service provider

Service desk staff who interacts directly with customers.

five whys

A technique that involves repeatedly asking the question "Why?" until the root cause of a problem is determined.


A diagram that shows the sequence of tasks that occur in a process.


A structure designed to enclose something.

functional escalation

Escalation that transfers and incident from one line of support to the next; occurs when greater knowledge or authority is required to resolve an incident or a target timescale has been exceeded.


An electronic device that sends or receives printed matter or computer images.

feature and functionality requirements

The specifics of how the selected tool must perform in order to support its associated business processes.


A predefined document that contains text or graphics users cannot change and areas in which users enter information.

fuzzy logic

A searching technique that presents all possible solutions that are similar to the search criteria, even when conflicting information exists or no exact match is present.


A location in a database that stores a particular piece of data.

first call resolution rate percent

The percentage of calls resolved during a customer's initial telephone call compared to the total number of calls received at the service desk for a given period of time.

fee-based support

Support services that charge the customer on a per-use basis.

Gantt chart

A type of bar chart that is often used to illustrate a project schedule.

global support

Support for customers anywhere in the world; may be caused by the need to support a large company that has foreign divisions and subsidiaries or by the need to support customers who are doing business with the company through the Web.

help desk

A forerunner of the service desk.

hierarchic escalation

Escalation that occurs when management is involved in the incident management process, even if only for information purposes; occurs when steps are taking too long, there is contention about assignments, or additional resources are needed to resolve a incident.

high-level requirements

The broad needs for a system.

homegrown incident tracking system

Technology that tends to support only the incident management process and offers basic trouble ticketing and reporting capability.


Text or graphics in a hypertext or hypermedia document that allow readers to "jump" to a related idea, regardless of where that idea occurs in the document.


A storage method that stores information in a graphical form so users can access the information in a nonlinear fashion using hyperlinks.


A storage method that stores information in a nongraphical form so users can access the information in a nonlinear fashion using hyperlinks.


Data that are organized in a meaningful way.

information center

A forerunner of the help desk; a place within a company where employees could receive training and help using personal computers.

Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)

A set of best practices for IT service management.

internal customer

A person who works at a company and at times relies on other employees at that company to perform his or her job.


A global collection of computer networks that are linked to provide worldwide access to information.

IT service management (ITSM)

A discipline for managing IT services that focuses on the quality of those services and the relationship that the IT organization has with its customers.

inbound call center

A call center that receives telephone calls from customers and may answer questions, take orders, respond to billing inquiries, and provide customer support.

installations, moves, adds, and changes (IMACs)

Activities that include moving equipment, installing and configuring new systems, and upgrading existing systems; also known as moves, adds, and changes (MACs).

internal service desk

A service desk that responds to questions, distributes information, and handles problems and service requests for its company's employees (internal customers).

internal service provider

A department or a person within a company that supplies information, products, or services to another department or person within the same company.


A secured, privately maintained Web site that serves employees and that can be accessed only by authorized personnel.

IT Operations Control

The function within IT that monitors the entire IT Infrastructure from a central console or set of consoles.


The effect an incident is having on the business.

incident management

The process responsible for managing the lifecycle of incidents.

incident owner

An employee of the support organization who acts as a customer advocate and proactively ensures that a incident is resolved to the customer's satisfaction.

incident ownership

A practice that ensures that when the service desk analyst cannot resolve a incident during the first call or escalates the incident to a person or group outside of the service desk, an incident owner is designated; also known as total contact ownership.

incident tracking

The task of following one incident from recognition to resolution.

incident management system

Technology used to enhanced trouble ticketing and management reporting capability.

incident data

The details of a incident or request, including incident type (such as an incident or request), channel used to submit (such as telephone, e-mail, or Web request), category (such as hardware or software), affected component or system (such as a printer or monitor), symptom, date and time incident occurred, date and time incident was logged, analyst who logged the incident, incident owner, description, and priority.

incident record

All of the fields that describe a single incident.

incidents resolved within target time percent

The percentage of incidents resolved within a target resolution time.


A customer request for information, such as "When will the new release of software arrive?"

International Organization for Standardization

A network of the national standards institutes of 157 countries; also known as ISO.

inventory management

A process that focuses only on collecting and maintaining information about IT assets, not the relationships that exist among those assets. See configuration management.

ISO 9000

A set of international standards for a quality management.

ISO/IEC 20000

An international standard for IT service management.

idle state

An ACD state that occurs when an analyst is logged on to the ACD but is not accepting calls.

information indicator digits (IID)

A service that identifies the origin of a call from the type or location of the telephone being used to place the call, such as a pay phone, cellular phone, or hotel phone.

instant message system

A system that enables two or more people to communicate in real time (text or chat) over the Internet by typing on a keyboard.

integrated ITSM solutions

A suite of systems that companies use to manage their incident, problem, knowledge, change, service asset and configuration management and request fulfillment processes; also called enterprise solutions.

individual performance goals

Measurable objectives for analysts that support the service desk mission.

Internet-based training (IBT)

A training system that people can access from any personal computer that has an Internet connection and a browser.

knowledge base administrator (KBA)

Another name for a knowledge engineer.

knowledge engineer

The person who develops and oversees the knowledge management process and ensures that the information contained in the knowledge management system is accurate, complete, and current; also called a knowledge base administrator (KBA).

knowledge management system (KMS)

A set of tools and databases that are used to store, manage, and present information sources such as customer information, documents, policies and procedures, incident resolutions, and known errors.

known error

a problem that has a documented root cause and a workaround.


A Japanese term that when applied to the workplace means continuing improvement involving everyone - managers and workers alike.

Kepner-Tregoe problem analysis

A proprietary problem analysis technique developed by Charles Kepner and Ben Tregoe that involves defining and describing the problem, establishing possible causes, testing the most probable cause, and verifying the true cause.

knowledge management

The process responsible for gathering, storing, and sharing information and knowledge within an organization.

keyword searching

The technique of finding indexed information by specifying a descriptive word or phrase, called a keyword.


The application of information along with people's experiences, ideas, and judgments.

key performance indicator (KPI)

A key metric used to manage a process.

large service desk

An internal service desk that has more than 25 people on staff, or an external service desk that has as many as several hundred people on staff.

local service desk

A service desk that is physically located close to its customers.

level one analyst

A person who receives and logs contacts, answers questions, and resolves incidents and service requests when possible; also called service desk analyst, customer support analyst, or service desk technician.

level one specialist

A person who researches complex incidents and handles service requests that require more skill or authority - or, in some cases, more time - than a level one analyst typically can devote to a single contact; also called service desk specialist, technical support specialist, or customer support specialist.

level one

The initial point of contact for customers when they have an incident.

level three

The person or group that resolves complex incidents that are beyond the scope of level two.

level two

The person or group that resolves incidents that are beyond the scope or authority (such as system access rights or permissions) of level one.

level one resolution rate percent

The percentage of incidents resolved at level one, but not necessarily during the customer's initial telephone call.


The physical site of the service desk in the building.

medium service desk

A service desk that has between 10 and 25 people on staff; can take on the characteristics of both small and large service desks.


Performance measures.


A written statement that describes the customers the service desk serves, the types of services the service desk provides, and how the service desk delivers those services.

moves, adds, and changes (MACs)

Activities that include moving equipment, installing and configuring new systems, and upgrading existing systems; also known as installations, moves, adds, and changes (IMACs).

multi-level support model

A common structure of service desks, where the service desk refers problems it cannot resolve to the appropriate internal group, external vendor, or subject matter expert.

Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF)

A collection of best practices, principles, and models that offers guidance to IT organizations for managing their IT services.

major incident

An incident that is causing significant business impact.


When a supervisor or team leader monitors an analyst's interactions with customers or watches an analyst interact with a customer in order to measure the quality of an analyst's performance.


A key or important event in the life of a project.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

A part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that is responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related illnesses and injuries; located on the Web at

network monitoring

Activities that use tools to observe network performance in an effort to minimize the impact of incidents.


The activities that inform all of the stakeholders in the incident management process (including management, the customer, and service desk analysts) about the status of outstanding incidents.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

An agency of the U.S. Department of Labor that is dedicated to reducing hazards in the workplace and enforcing mandatory job-safety standards; also implements and improves health programs for workers; located on the Web at


Personal computer software products that are developed and distributed commercially.


To have services provided by an outside supplier instead of providing them in-house.

one-stop shop

A service desk that is fully responsible for resolving all problems and service requests, even if the solution requires extensive research or even coding changes.

outbound call center

A call center that makes telephone calls to customers, primarily for telemarketing.

out-of-scope service request

A request that is beyond the capabilities of the service desk.


Tracking an incident to ensure that the customer is kept informed about the status of the incident, that the incident is resolved within the expected time frame, and that the customer is satisfied with the final resolution.

overall satisfaction survey

A customer satisfaction survey that asks customers for feedback about all contacts with the service desk during a certain time period.

peer-to-peer support

A practice in which users bypass the formal support structure and seek assistance from their coworkers or someone in another department.


The service desk component that consists of the staff and structure put in place within a company or department to support its customers by performing business processes.

physical layout

How the service desk is arranged into workspaces.


A step-by-step, detailed set of instructions that describes how to perform the tasks in a process.


A collection of interrelated work activities that take a set of specific inputs and produce a set of specific outputs that are of value to a customer.

personal digital assistant (PDA)

A small mobile hand-held device that provides computing and information-storage and retrieval capabilities for personal or business use.


A method of distributing digital media files over the Internet to personal computers and portable media players.

post-sales support

Helping people who have purchased a company's product or service.

pre-sales support

Answering questions for people who have not yet purchased a company's products or services.

profit center

A service desk that must cover its expenses and, perhaps, make a profit by charging a fee for support services.

Pareto analysis

A technique for determining the most significant causes from a list of many possible causes of a problem.


A formal document that describes the intentions and expectations of management.


The category that defines the relative importance of an incident and is based on the event's impact and urgency.

problem management

The process responsible for managing the lifecycle of problems.

problem manager

An employee of the support organization who coordinates all problem management activities and ensures problems are resolved within SLA targets.


An efficiency measure that relates output (goods and services produced) to input (the number of hours worked).


An approach used to manage one or more interdependent projects.


A temporary endeavor undertaken to complete a unique product, service, or result.


A Web "supersite" that provides a variety of services such as a site search to locate pertinent articles and white papers, a product and services buyer's guide, a discussion or message board, event calendars, and publications.

push technology

A way to deliver information to Web-enabled PCs. The information is delivered in one of two ways: In the push method, the server contacts the client when there is new information to send. In the pull method, the client contacts the server to determine whether new information is available.

page hit

a Web page visit.

proactive service desk

A service desk that uses information to anticipate and prevent incidents and prepare for the future.

project management

The process of planning and managing a project.

project plan

A summary document that describes a project, its objectives, and how the objectives are to be achieved.

project scope

A description of the work to be done.


A characteristic that measures how well products or services meet customer requirements. A measure of how well services meet customer expectations.


A customer request for instruction on how to use a product, such as "How do I...?"

query by example (QBE)

A searching technique that uses queries, or questions, to find records that match the specified search criteria. Queries can include search operators.


A line; can be used to refer to a list of calls, tickets, or e-mail messages waiting to be processed.

remote control and diagnostic systems

Systems that allow the service desk to take remote control of the keyboard, screen, or mouse of connected devices and then troubleshoot problems, transfer files, and even provide informal training by viewing or operating the customer's screen.

remote control system

Technology that enables an analyst to take over a caller's keyboard, screen, mouse, or other connected devices to troubleshoot incidents, transfer files, provide informal training, and even collaborate on documents.

remote monitoring system

Technology that tracks and collects alerts generated by network, system, or application monitoring systems and passes them to a central server where they can be automatically picked up, evaluated, and, when appropriate, logged as an incident.

return on investment (ROI)

A business calculation that measures the total financial benefit derived from an investment - such as a new technology project - and then compares it with the total cost of the project.

request for change (RFC)

A request to change the production environment.

request fulfillment

The process responsible for handling service requests from IT users.


Something that is necessary or essential.

root cause

The most basic reason for an undesirable condition or problem, which, if eliminated or corrected, would prevent the problem from existing or occurring.

root cause analysis

A methodical way of determining why problems occur and identifying ways to prevent them.

recording system

Technology that records and plays back telephone calls.

request for information (RFI)

A form or letter that asks for specific product information relative to the company's requirements.

request for proposal (RFP)

A form or letter that requests financial information as well as product information.

rule-based system

A system made up of (1) rules, (2) facts, and (3) a knowledge base or engine that combines rules and facts to reach a conclusion.

reactive service desk

A service desk that simply responds to events that occur each day.


A collection of related fields.

reopen percent

The percentage of incidents an analyst opens back up compared to the total number of incidents that analyst closed during a given period of time.

resolution data

Details that describe how an incident was resolved, including all the fields required to track service level compliance and perform trend analysis, such as the person or group who resolved the incident, resolution description, date and time resolved, customer satisfaction indicator, date and time closed, and possible cause.

resolution percent

The percentage of incidents an analyst resolves compared to the total number of incidents that analyst handled during a given period of time.

response time

The length of time a customer waits for a reply to a fax, e-mail, or Web-based request.

repetitive stress injuries (RSIs)

Physical symptoms caused by excessive and repeated use of the hands, wrist, arms, and thumbs; these symptoms occur when people perform tasks using force, repeated strenuous actions, awkward postures, and poorly designed equipment.

service desk

A single point of contact within a company for managing customer incidents and service requests.


Services that enable the continued use of a system once it is released for distribution.


In the context of a multi-level support model, customers solving incidents on their own is known.

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

A written document that spells out the services the service desk will provide to the customer, the customer's responsibilities, and how service performance is measured.

service request

As defined by ITIL, a request for information or advice, access to an IT service, or a standard change.

small service desk

A service desk that has anywhere from one to 10 people on staff.

standard change

A preapproved change that is low risk and follows a procedure.

subject matter expert (SME)

A person who has a high level of experience or knowledge about a particular subject.

self-management skills

The skills, such as stress and time management, that people need to complete their work effectively, feel job satisfaction, and avoid frustration or burnout.

senior service desk manager

The person who typically establishes the service desk mission and focuses on the service desk's strategic or long-term goals; also called a service desk director.

service desk director

Another name for the senior service desk manager.

service desk manager

The person who works closely with the senior service desk manager to prepare the service desk's budget and plan its activities for the coming year.

service desk supervisor

The person who oversees the day-to-day operation of the service desk, which includes making sure the service desk is meeting its SLA commitments, monitoring and evaluating the performance of service desk staff, and ensuring that the staff is properly trained; also called team leader.

service management and improvement

Activities such as monitoring service desk performance and identifying and overseeing improvements to the service desk.

soft skills

The qualities that people need to deliver great service, such as active listening skills, verbal skills, customer service skills, problem-solving skills, temperament, teamwork skills, and writing skills.

software piracy

The unauthorized use or reproduction of copyrighted or patented software.

service asset and configuration management

The process responsible for collecting and maintaining information about IT assets and showing the relationships that exist among those assets.

service knowledge management system (SKMS)

A set of tools and databases that are used to manage knowledge and information about IT services.


The impact an incident is having on the business.

Six Sigma

A disciplined, data-driven approach for eliminating defects in any process.


A document that contains an agreed, repeatable way of doing something.

screen pop

A CTI function that enables information about the caller to appear, or "pop" up, on the analyst's monitor, and is based on caller information captured by the telephone system and passed to a computer system.

search criteria

The questions or incident symptoms entered by a user.

search operators

Connecting words such as AND, OR, and NOT sometimes used in queries; also called Boolean operators.


Hardware devices and software applications that have the ability to detect and correct incidents on their own.

simultaneous screen transfer

A function that transfers the call as well as all the information collected in the ticket up to that point.

skills-based routing (SBR)

An ACD feature that matches the requirements of an incoming call to the skill sets of available analysts or analyst groups. The ACD then distributes the call to the next available, most qualified analyst.

software distribution system

Technology that allows an analyst to automatically distribute software to clients and servers on the same network.

staffing and scheduling systems

Systems that work with ACD systems to collect, report, and forecast call volumes.

system integration

Linking together different computer systems and applications physically or functionally.

service desk goals

Measurable objectives that support the service desk's mission.

skills inventory matrix

A grid that rates each analyst's level of skill on every product, system, and service supported by the service desk.

status data

Details about an incident that are used to track the incident throughout its lifecycle, including incident status (such as assigned, awaiting parts, resolved, closed), the person or group assigned, date and time assigned, and priority.

technical support

A wide range of services that enable people and companies to continuously use the computing technology they acquired or developed.


The tools and systems people use to do their work.

total cost of ownership (TCO)

The total amount that a company or person spends on computer technology over its lifetime. A considerable portion of the TCO is technical support.


The selling of products and services over the telephone.


The process of determining a customer's need and routing him or her to the appropriate support group.

team leader

Another name for the service desk supervisor

technical skills

The skills people need to use and support the specific products and technologies the service desk supports.

target escalation time

A time constraint placed on each level that ensures that incident resolution activities are proceeding at an appropriate pace.

target resolution time

The time frame within which the support organization is expected to resolve an incident.

target response time

The time frame within which the service desk or level two acknowledges the incident, diagnoses the incident, and estimates the target resolution time.

Total Quality Control (TQC)

The system that Japan developed to implement Kaizen or continuing improvement.

Total Quality Management (TQM)

A management approach to long-term success through customer satisfaction.

trend analysis

A methodical way of determining and, when possible, forecasting service trends.


Enable the creation and enhancement of tools.


A predefined item that can be used to quickly create a standard document or e-mail message.


A product or device that automates or facilitates a person's work.

time idle

The average length of time an analyst was idle during a given period of time.

time robbers

Activities that take up time and do not add value to the work that analysts perform, and in fact usually decrease productivity and increase stress levels.

ubiquitous computing

An environment where people have access to their information and computing systems from public shared access points, such as airports, automated teller machines (ATMs), hotel rooms and lobbies, libraries, retail stores, and supermarkets.


A measure of how long it will be until an incident has a significant impact on the business.


The perceived worth, usefulness, or importance of a product or service to the customer.

virtual service desk

A service desk that gives the impression of a centralized service desk by using sophisticated telephone systems and the Internet. In reality, the service desk analysts may be located in any number of locations, including their homes.

voice mail

An automated form of taking messages from callers.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

A technology that translates voice communications into data and then transmits that data across an Internet connection or network.

voice response unit (VRU)

A technology that integrates with another technology, such as a database or a network management system, to obtain information or to perform a function; also called an interactive voice response unit (IVRU).

world class

A company that has achieved and is able to sustain high levels of customer satisfaction. For example, a world class manufacturing company is considered excellent by its customers when compared to other service companies, regardless of what industry they are in.

World Wide Web (WWW or Web)

A collection of documents on the Internet with point-and-click access to information that is posted by government agencies, businesses, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and individuals around the world.


A method used to deliver presentations, lectures, workshops or seminars over the Web; short for Web-based seminar.


Temporarily circumventing or minimizing the impact of an incident.


A smooth, erasable white panel on which analysts write notes and communicate current and future events.

whiteboard system

Technology that allows two or more users on a network to view one or more user's drawing, or a document or application being projected on an onscreen whiteboard.


The judicious application of knowledge.

wrap-up mode

A feature that prevents the ACD from routing a new inbound call to an analyst's extension.

wrap-up time

The average length of time an analyst was in wrap-up mode during a given period of time.


The condition of good physical and mental health, especially when maintained by proper diet, exercise, and habits.


An area outfitted with equipment and furnishings for one worker.

Web 2.0

A term describing changing trends in the use of World Wide Web technology and Web design that aim to enhance creativity, information sharing, collaboration, and functionality of the Web.

work breakdown structure (WBS)

A task-oriented breakdown of the work to be done in a project.

Additional Whitepapers