Glossary of CX Terms

This is a list of Customer Experience Terms I’ve gathered from various groups, associations, and smart CX leaders.

Attrition Rate (Customers) – Also referred to as churn; the percentage of customers lost in each period.​

Account Management – The process of managing the relationship with specific customers.  Account managers often act as the interface between customer service and sales on behalf of their customers.  The purpose of account management is generally to foster customer success and ensure valuable, lasting relationships.

Best Practice – Practices or procedures that have been proven across many organizations or situations to be correct or most effective.

Change Management – Refers to guiding the organization through complex change; generally, refers to the people aspect of change. (In technology settings, change management can refer to rolling out new versions of software.)

Chief Customer Officer (CCO) – Senior executive responsible for the design and coordination of all customer-related activities across the business.  Develops strategies to maximize retention, increase profitability, and promote a customer-centric culture among employees.

​Chief Experience Officer (CXO) – This is another title encapsulating the same roles and responsibilities as the Chief Customer Officer (CCO).

Churn Rate – For subscription-based services, this is the percentage of customers who discontinue service in a given period of time.  Used commonly in SaaS (Software as a Service) business and is also referred to as the “rate of attrition.”

Core Values – A set of principles that determine how an organization does business with its employees, customers, and vendors.

Cost Center. An accounting term refers to a department or function in the organization that does not generate profit. Related term: profit center.

Culture – Quite simply, culture is “the way we do things.”  It’s the culmination of the beliefs, processes, mission, attitudes, and everything else that makes a company unique.  Culture is the backbone of both the customer experience and the employee experience.

Customer Advocacy – The organization makes decisions based on what would be best for the customer.  A “Customer Advocate” is an individual within a company who ensures the voice of the customer is heard and their needs are protected.

Customer Effort Score (CES) – The Customer Effort Score was introduced by the CEB (now Gartner) in 2013. According to extensive research by a variety of firms, CES has a powerful correlation to customer loyalty. The “effort” question would be asked on your surveys and is simply “how quickly and easily were you able to resolve your issue.” It’s more transactional when compared with NPS and is great for measuring the experience on a touchpoint-by-touchpoint basis.

Customer Engagement – Organizational stakeholders from different functions work together to understand a customer’s needs and enhance the business relationship.

Customer Experience (CX) – “How customers perceive their interactions with your company” (Forrester)

Customer Experience Management (CEM or CXM) – “The practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.” (Gartner)

Customer Journey – All interactions and touchpoints a customer has with an organization.

Customer Life Expectancy (CLE) – Also called average customer lifespan. The average time (in days, months, and years) that a customer is engaged or active with your organization.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) – Expresses the value of a customer to the organization over the entire probable time in which the customer will interact with the organization.

Customer Loyalty – Typically defined in terms of the customer’s repurchase behavior, intent to purchase again, or intent to recommend the organization. See customer advocacy.

Customer Persona – Written and/or graphical representation of the different customer segments a business is targeting.

Customer Relationship Management – The process of holistically developing the customer’s relationship with the organization. It considers their history as a customer, the depth and breadth of their business with the organization, and other factors.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) – While it focuses on a specific interaction or event, CSAT is a helpful companion to NPS and CES.  There are several CSAT-related questions that can be asked on a survey, but the core question is “how would you rate your experience with (fill in the blank)”.  There are typically five answer choices ranging from very satisfied down to very dissatisfied.  This could be a support interaction, a purchasing experience, a demo, or just about anything else.  It’s calculated by establishing a percentage of those answering either “satisfied” or “very satisfied.”

Customer Segmentation – The process of grouping customers based on what you know about them, to apply differentiated marketing, relationship, and service strategies.

Customer Sentiment – A reflection of how your customers feel about your products, services, and organization; analysis of many types of feedback produces a customer sentiment metric you can track.

Customer Success – The function of a company responsible for managing customer relationships.  It is essentially the same as Customer Experience Management (CEM) but is mostly used in the context of SaaS (Software as a service) businesses.

Customer Service – The function of a company responsible for assisting the customer when they experience issues related to a product or service.  It is different from Customer Experience (CX) in that customer service is just one type of interaction whereas CX is the sum of all types of interactions a customer has with an organization.

​Dashboards – Easy-to-comprehend graphical reporting of critical KPIs and supporting metrics.

Data Mining – Generally, refers to the use of analytics capabilities to analyze data, e.g., to identify trends and causal factors. Related terms: big data, analytics.

Digital Transformation – Broadly refers to harnessing digital technologies to improve efficiencies and create new or better experiences for customers and employees.

Employee Advocate – An employee who promotes and defends the company they work for, like customers who are brand advocates. Related term: customer advocacy.

Employee Experience (EX) – How employees perceive their total interactions with an organization.

Employee Engagement (EE) – Quantitative representation of the enthusiasm or emotional commitment an employee has to the organization and the work they do.​

First Contact Resolution (FCR) – The percentage of contacts that are handled to completion in the initial interaction. The customer does not need to contact the organization again, nor does anyone within the organization need to follow up.

Human-centered Design (HCD)  A user-centric approach leveraged to build processes from the ground up based largely on human perspectives.  The goal is to ensure all solutions are developed in a manner to enhance the user’s overall experience.

Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA) – Bots that emulate human conversations, and are used in customer service, technical support, marketing, and other applications. The term is often used to describe advanced chatbot applications. Related terms: chatbot, robotic process automation.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) – An IVR system responds to caller entered digits or speech recognition in much the same way that a conventional computer responds to keystrokes or clicks of a mouse. When the IVR is integrated with database applications, customers can interact with databases to check current information (e.g., account balances) and complete transactions (e.g., make transfers between accounts).

Journey Mapping – A visual tool used by businesses to tell the story of a particular type of customer’s experience.  It’s effective for helping organizations quickly understand what their customers go through and to identify key potential pain points.

Key Performance Indicator (KPI) – A high-level measure of performance. Some interpret KPI as the single most important measure in a department or unit; however, in common usage, most organizations have multiple KPIs. See performance objective.

Lean Six Sigma – A disciplined variation of Six Sigma that focuses on the elimination of different kinds of waste in production and service delivery. Related terms: a system of causes, process, Six Sigma.

Machine Learning (ML) – Technology that enables programs to access and use data on their own, learn for themselves, and improve as they learn.

Knowledge Management (KM) – Developing and leveraging an organization’s knowledge resources to prevent the need for employees to “reinvent the wheel.”

Lifetime Value (LTV, CTLV, or CLV) – A predictive measure of how much an organization can expect a customer to spend with them over the course of their entire relationship.

Measure – A fundamental, quantifiable unit, such as length, amount, or size. Examples include the time it took to process a claim, and the number of customers served. See metric.

Metric – A quantifiable value that is often composed of more than one measure. For example, the average cost of a service interaction incorporates both costs and the number of interactions. See measure.

Moments of Truth – The points in a customer relationship in which a business has the largest opportunity to either increase or decrease customer loyalty. (CX Accelerator) 

Natural Language Processing (NLP) – Enables computers to interpret, analyze and process human language.

Net Present Value – A method of determining the attractiveness of investments. The value of future cash flows over the life of an investment is discounted to the present.

Net Promoter Score (NPS) – Introduced by Fred Reichheld, Net Promoter Score is calculated on a 10-point scale by asking “How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?”  The goal is to turn “detractors” into “promoters” under the assumption that promoters will help you to generate more business and spend more with your brand over time.

Omnichannel – Systems and methodologies that integrate multiple channels to create a seamless customer experience regardless of channel. Customers may start out in one channel (e.g., a social platform or website) and move to another (e.g., phone, text, or chat); regardless, an omnichannel approach enables the organization and customers to interact seamlessly across channels.

Onboarding – The process of integrating a new employee into an organization and its culture (e.g., through orientation, training, nesting, etc.). May also refer to familiarizing new customers or clients with the organization’s products and services.

Personalization – Customizing services for the needs and characteristics of individual customers, e.g., an IVR greeting that recognizes customers by name, or web pages tailored to individuals.

Process Improvement – Methods that guide ongoing diagnosis and improvements to processes.

Process Mapping – A technique used to visually depict how work is done. Shows how events, resources, timelines, and other variables interact to achieve a predictable outcome. (CX Accelerator)​

Project Management – An approach that keeps projects on track and within budget.

Pulse Survey – A survey that consists of a short set of questions provided on a recurring basis (e.g., every one or two weeks).

Qualitative Analysis – Analysis that interprets descriptive data and is usually expressed as text.

Quality Management System – This can refer to either the technologies that enable quality management or, more often, the totality of the technologies, tools, and methods an organization uses to manage and improve quality.

Quality Standards – Also referred to as performance standards. The requirements, specifications, guidelines, or characteristics established for customer service and customer experience.

Relationship Survey – Also referred to as enterprise survey, a comprehensive survey that generates feedback on all key elements that can impact customer satisfaction. Questions on a relationship survey are broad and cover issues such as product quality, ease of use, price, service, and others. They are sent at random to a small percentage of customers on a regular basis. See transaction survey.

Retention – The opposite of turnover; keeping employees in the organization. See turnover.

Return on Investment (ROI) – Strictly speaking, this is the net income or savings divided by the amount invested for a specific initiative. In customer experience, ROI has come to define an overall method of estimating the value of an investment. See cost of inaction (COI).

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – Software robots that automate tasks previously requiring humans—finding and maintaining information, calculations, transactions, and others. Related term: intelligent virtual assistant (IVA).

Self-Service System – Systems that enable customers to access the information or services they need without the help of an employee.

Sentiment Analysis – Tools and methodologies used to assess the nature of a customer’s views and feelings about an organization’s products, services, and brand.

Service Blueprint – Technique used to visually depict all the various components (people, process, technology) that make up a specific touchpoint inside of the larger customer journey.  Service blueprints can be seen as a tactical extension of the journey mapping process.

Service Level Agreement (SLA). An agreement—between departments within an organization or between a client organization and an outsourcer—that defines performance objectives and expectations.

Six Sigma – A disciplined process that focuses on developing and delivering near-perfect products and services. Sigma is a statistical term that measures process variation. Lean Six Sigma is a variation of Six Sigma that focuses on the elimination of waste. See the system of causes.

Social Listening – The process of finding and assessing what is being said and written in social media about an organization, product, service, person, or other topics.​ 

Touchpoints – The different points at which a customer interacts with a business. Touchpoints are commonly used as part of the journey mapping process and typically include three phases—before purchase, during purchase, and after purchase. (CX Accelerator) 

Turnover – Also referred to as attrition. When a person leaves a job or department. Turnover can be categorized as voluntary (when the employee decides to leave) or involuntary (when management makes the decision for the employee to leave). It can also be categorized as internal (the employee leaves for another position within the organization) or external (the employee leaves for another organization).

Unstructured Feedback – Feedback received from customers that are neither solicited nor prompted.  This could be anything from a conversation, to a review left on Yelp, to a tweet about a particular brand.

User Experience (UX) – The overall impression of a person while utilizing a product or service.  Often used in the context of improving the interaction between a human and technology.

Voice of the Customer (VoC) – Broadly refers to tools, methods, and collaboration that capture customers’ input and perceptions, seek to understand customer needs and wants, and use captured data to improve products, services, and processes. See customer experience, managing customer feedback.

Voice of the Employee (VoE) – Broadly refers to tools, methods, and collaboration that capture employees’ input and perceptions, seek to understand the employee journey, and use captured data and input to improve the employee experience. See voice of the customer (VoC).

Voicebot – A voice-activated chatbot. See chatbot.

Wallet Share – The portion of a customer’s total spending in a product category that goes to a company or product. See market share.

Word of Mouth – Refers to customers telling others about their experiences.

I would like to give a special thanks to CX Accelerator and Brad Cleveland.

We will continue to add more to this list, so if you feel like we missed any, please contact Nick Glimsdahl.