The definitive list of customer service buzzwords, and what they really mean

Buzzwords. Those terms that everyone uses, that sound exciting or impressive, but not everyone is quite sure exactly what they mean.  Unfortunately, buzzwords are surprisingly prominent in the customer service sector.

When was the last time you saw a business proudly announcing how seamless their customer experience is? How often have you heard brands talking about leveraging multiple touchpoints or embracing omnichannel strategy? And what exactly is customer alignment anyway?

It seems that there’s a customer service buzzword around every corner.  So, to help remove ambiguity, here’s our definitive list of customer service buzzwords, and what they really mean.

 

1.    Accessible customer service

As customer service buzzwords go, ‘accessible customer service’ is one of the more straightforward terms. It refers to how easy it is for your customers to reach your business and access your customer service, at any time, via any preferred channel.

 

2.    Customer acquisition

In a nutshell, this is a term for winning customers. ‘Customer acquisition’ refers to the efforts and processes undertaken to convince a customer to buy from you. You should also watch out for its common supporting prefaces: ‘aggressive’ and ‘intent-driven’.

 

3.    Customer alignment

Customer alignment is the extent to which a business’s goals and products are oriented to the values and needs of the customer. As a rule, strong customer alignment means that a business is highly invested in meeting customer values and requirements.

 

4.    Customer-centric

Perhaps one of the most (over)used customer service buzzwords is ‘customer-centric’. This term is commonly bandied as an adjective describing company cultures and practices. Customer centricity simply refers to placing your customer in the centre of the service experience and prioritising their needs.

 

5.    Customer effort

Customer effort is a metric for how much time, resource or irritation a customer must invest to reach their desired result. Assessing customer effort helps businesses see where they need to speed or simplify the experience, helping ‘minimise pain points’ and ‘drive an ethos of customer satisfaction’. (To steal another few customer service buzzwords.)

 

6.    Customer experience

Occasionally shortened to CX, customer experience refers to the entirety of interactions a customer has with a company and its services. This starts right from the moment the customer becomes aware of you, to instances of contacting support, to advocacy and the end of the customer relationship. Again, this term is commonly prefaced by other customer service buzzwords such as ‘streamlined’, ‘holistic’ and ‘immersive’.

 

7.    Customer relationship management (CRM)

CRM, or customer relationship management, defines the management system of your customer data. It relates not only to the organisation and storage of customer data, but also its strategic use to offer informed, tailored service. With a CRM system in place, every detail about every customer is immediately available. (If you use it correctly, that is.)

 

8.    Knowledge base

A knowledge base is the content on your site that supports customers that want to serve themselves. It’s the library of content that offers advice and instruction to help customers fix a problem without contacting your service team. For this reason, ‘knowledge base’ is usually found beside customer service buzzwords like ‘customer empowerment’ and ‘the connected customer’.

 

9.    Omnichannel and multichannel service

Omnichannel and multichannel are customer service buzzwords describing your methods of offering customer service. Multichannel, or ‘many channel’, is the idea that there are multiple ways for a customer to contact your business. Omnichannel is a further extension of this. It means that customers can not only contact through any means they like, but also swap and change between contact channels fluidly.  Expect to find alongside words like ‘seamless’ and ‘synergy’.

 

10.  Personalised experience

Personalisation, or personalised experience, is one of the most hotly used customer service buzzwords you’ll hear. It refers to the use of personal preferences to make the journey unique to each customer. From using the customer’s name, to delivering relevant content, to marketing based on behaviours and interests – a personalised experience is one data-driven to feel tailored. (In fact, data-driven also deserves a buzzword nod.)

 

11.  Customer retention

Customer retention determines the ability to keep customers with a business, and encourage them to return for repeat purchases. Essentially, it’s what happens after customer acquisition. First you get the customer onboard, then you try your best to keep them there. You’ll also find ‘customer retention’ used alongside its cousin customer service buzzwords: ‘lifetime value’, ‘customer loyalty’ and ‘leveraging customer relationships’.

 

12.  Service awareness

Don’t confuse brand awareness with service awareness. Service awareness is the measurement of how aware a company is regarding the impact of their service on the customer. So, it can help customer support teams know when to go the extra mile for a customer, and the effect that doing so will have.

 

13.  Touchpoints/point of contact

These customer service buzzwords simply refer to when and how a customer interacts with your business. ‘Touchpoint’ or ‘point of contact’ describes the moment that a customer comes into contact with your business. A touchpoint can be active or passive.  Active interactions include a live chat session or phone call, for example. Meanwhile, passive contact includes seeing a review or landing on your website.

 

14.  Voice of the customer

The voice of the customer is the accumulated insight gained through customer feedback. Acquiring these ‘mission-critical customer insights’ provides information on where customer service is failing and succeeding. Listening to the voice of the customer enables support teams to adjust their service to ‘exceed customer expectations’ and ‘deliver exceptional frontline service’. (To play customer service buzzwords bingo.)

 

Understanding customer service buzzwords

Certainly, customer service buzzwords can sound impressive. They pepper business speech and add pizzazz to plain conversations. (Even if, perhaps, not everyone in the room is quite clear on definitions.)

But behind this flashiness is the foundation for great customer service. So, don’t simply hide behind words. By taking the time to understand and incorporate the concepts behind key industry terms, you give your customer service practices a boost.

Are there any customer service buzzwords that we missed? If so, drop us a tweet and let us know.

 

Useful links

Accessible customer service: is your business open?

Converting your online window shoppers

10 things you should never say in a live chat conversation