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Consortium for Service Innovation

Glossary of Terms

Definitions relevant to self-service measures and in the context of customer support.

See also: KCS Glossary of terms.


When people give up the pursuit of a resolution to an issue.

Indicators of behavior, activities, performance (outcomes): search, Google, clickstream.

Article feedback
Article based - when a person views an article they are asked if the article was helpful.

Requestors pursuing a resolution to an issue or seeking information (learning) from a person (human being), usually requesting help or information from a vendor about their products and/or services.

Assisted eligibility
An issue's eligibility for agent assistance. Some requests are not applicable for agent assistance.

An action taken to pursue a resolution to an issue. By channel (self-service, forum, social, assisted). There may be many attempts for a given issue, each in different channels. There may be multiple attempts per session/visit. Each company will have to set criteria based on average requestor's behavior to assess attempts/session.

Automated alerts
Based on automated detection the notification of potential issues (could be machine-to-machine or machine-to-human).

Automated interactions
Use of bots or other digital capabilities to provide requestors with possible resolutions or information.

Automated recommendation
Use of digital capabilities to recommend articles or information based on pattern recognition (for anonymous users) or data about the requestor (for authenticated users).

Automatic detection
Automated detection of potential issues based on data from sensors (hardware) or programmatic analysis (software), or a combination of the two.

Automatic repair
Corrective action(s) taken by robotic or programmatic capabilities that resolve a requestors issue based on information provided by the requestor or the system. Examples: password reset, profile updates.

Average work time to resolve
See KCS Glossary of terms.

In the context of interactions (incidents/cases) - when a request for agent assistance has been started and the requestor has interacted with/used a suggested resolution and does not complete the request for assistance.


Navigating information using facets, a table of contents, a list of frequently asked questions, site map, or knowledge maps (not a search).


Case close without assistance
Requestor submitted a case and then solved it without agent assistance.

The record of a customer request for assistance that may include things like the requestor's name, company, contact information, entitlement information, issue description, severity of the issue and status of the request.

The different interaction modes, including but not limited to: online communities or forums, social media, chat, self-service, in product help, or assisted.

The activity and navigation pattern of people interacting with a web site or in a community.

Click through
The requestor viewed an article (in full) or piece of content from a list of possible articles and/or content.

Click through rate (CTR)
The percentage of searches that resulted in a user clicking on one or more of the results.

People with common interests asking questions, providing responses and sharing experiences, usually facilitated by a digital platform like Jive, or Lithium.

Confidence interval
In the context of statistics and assessing survey responses - a confidence interval is a type of interval estimate, computed from the statistics of the observed data, that might contain the true value of an unknown population parameter. Wikipedia. For example, if we asked customers in a self-service survey “did you find what you were looking for during your visit”. 60% of all respondents might say yes. Dependent on the statistics associated with responses and the population for whom the question is relevant we can calculate a margin of error. 60% of survey respondents said yes and we have 95% confidence interval of plus or minus 2% - we are 95% confident that customers feel they find what they are looking for 58%-62% of the time.

Cost avoidance/saving
See KCS Glossary of terms.

Cost per incident
See KCS Glossary of terms.

Cross-functional measures
See KCS Glossary of terms.

Crowd-sourced content
Content created by the users, peers of customers, typically in a forum or community. See

Customer engagement network
All the ways customers get information about us, all the ways we interact with customers. A network of content and people. We want to connect people to content for known issues and people to people for new issues with ever-increasing relevance.

Customer loyalty
See KCS Glossary of terms.

Customer satisfaction
See KCS Glossary of terms.


In the context of interactions (incidents/cases) - when a request for agent assistance has been started and the requestor has interacted with/used a suggested resolution and does not complete the request for assistance. Synonymous with avoidance.

In the context of the web - retrieving digital content (article, document or executable file) by saving a copy of the content on the requestor's system.


In the context of people - the work and/or time it takes to accomplish a task. “Customer Effort” was made popular by the book “The Effortless Experience”, which explains that reducing customer effort results in increased customer loyalty (and renewals) more so than delightful experiences.

Elapsed time to resolution (customer view)
Elapsed time (min or days) from customer start of pursuing a resolution to resolution found. Not work minutes - see "Average work time to resolve".

Elapsed time to resolution (vendor view)
Elapsed time (min or days) from when the customer issue is known until a resolution is suggested.

Embedded help
In the context of self-service - enabling requesters to access to content in the user interface for the product or service.

A customer touch point or interaction. Reactive is when the customer initiates the engagement, proactive is when the vendor initiates the engagement. Engagement is meant to capture all touch points, assisted, self-service, etc.

Entitlement (to view, read)
No authentication required, open, anonymous, gated, authentication/login required, entitled by contract.

Entitlement to contribute (create a case, respond to post)
People authorized to create requests or replies to requests.


Incident volume
See KCS Glossary of terms.

Proactive or reactive pursuit of a resolution to an issue or information for learning in any of a number of different channels or mechanisms.

Anything that disrupts the customer’s ability to be successful, including but not limited to questions, needs, or problems with a product, service, policy or process. Issue drivers can be functional, social or emotional.


Journey mapping
A detailed description and/or images of the steps a person does to accomplish a task. Often used to assess the customer experience. See


Knowledge use
People accessing and making use of knowledge articles. Although "knowledge consumption" is a commonly used phrase, we discourage its use as it is a misnomer because things that are consumed cannot be used again or by others.

Knowledge gap
People are looking for knowledge that does not exist or is not available in the channel in which they are looking (searching/browsing)


Meaningful view
Content viewed that meets specific criteria that implies use of the content (time on page, scroll to view significant portion of the content, bookmark, download)


NPS - Net Promoter Score
An indicator of customer loyalty.


Enabling requestors to use many different channels for support (phone, web submit, social networks, web forums) and a strategy to provide a consistent and integrated experience across the channels. Different from multichannel, which is multiple channels available without a unified or integrated experience.


Customers interacting with customers, partners interacting with partners, or employees interacting with employees in pursuit of a resolution to an issue.

Percentage first contact resolution
See KCS Glossary of terms.

An identity, in the context of journey mapping, communities and self-service, labeling a collection of people with common attributes, sometimes the role a person is in defines their persona (accounts receivable administrator, IT professionals, HR administrators, lawyers), sometimes the skill within in a domain (novice, experienced, expert) may define their persona. See


The position a result or selected article appears within search results. A common measure of search performance combined with content health is average click-through rank.

Resolution capacity
See KCS Glossary of terms.


In the context of customer satisfaction - an assessment of a requestor’s experience with a transaction(s) or interaction(s).

In the context of self-service - an activity or effort to find or discover something specific by providing a program with words and phrases that will enable the program to identify relevant content that exists within a large, broad collection of content. Often includes advanced search and/or filtering options.

Enabling requestors (customers or users) to interact with knowledge or capabilities that resolve their issue without interacting with a representative from a vendor. What you do or do not consider to count as self-service engagement will depend on your business and may change over time.

Self-service adoption
See KCS Glossary of terms.

Self-service success
See KCS Glossary of terms.

Self-solved or semi-assisted
After submitting a case, requestor resolved their own issue before being provided with a complete solution.

Session (self-service)
Requestor is active on in the self-service mechanism. In the context of self-service, the frequency of a person’s use of the self-service mechanism to pursue a resolution to one or more issues that has a distinct beginning and end. A session/visit has a duration or time spent as well as frequency. This needs be defined by each organization based on the products/services being supported and the nature of the customer engagements. Example AARP (low complexity) will have different criteria for # of issues/session as well as the criteria for what constitutes a successful engagement vs what PTC's criteria (high complexity). Advanced measures determine that session activity meets criteria to indicate meaningful engagement.

Social networks
Relationship-based connections between people and people or people and companies usually facilitated by a digital platform like Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

Support cost as a percentage of total revenue
See KCS Glossary of terms.

A request to a target audience to collect feedback about performance and expectations. A key advantage to surveys is that the data is explicit, and conclusions drawn typically have a high degree of confidence, whereas evaluating behavior patterns through session data often requires inference and therefore comes with a lower degree of confidence. The challenge with surveys is collecting enough data to be statistically significant.

  • Session-based: when a requester begins or ends a self-service session they are asked questions about their experience during the session.
  • Interaction-based or event-driven: a survey sent after the conclusion of an interaction, such as the closure of a case.
  • Relationship survey: A questionnaire sent periodically (6 month or annual) to assess the customer's opinion of the relationship. The surveys often cover overall satisfaction, loyalty or effort.


Time on page/content/object
Number of seconds the user are "active" on a piece of content, the threshold for a meaningful use will vary based on  the type of content and the nature of  your environment (each  org will have to calibrate the thresholds that are meaningful for them).

Time to close
See KCS Glossary of terms.

Time to resolution
See KCS Glossary of terms.

Touchpoint model
A visual representation of all the points of interaction with customers, also called a lifecycle model. Usually done at a high level of abstraction.


Unsolicited suggestions (searchless search)
In the context of self-service - offering helpful information based on a customer or user’s behavior and or text submission(s).


Vendor-sourced content
Content that is developed and provided by the company that is selling or providing the product or service.

View (content)
In the context of the web - opening, navigating to a page, often used as “page view” which implies the person read the content on a web page. If a "hover" provides sufficient information to resolve the issue it counts as a view (this will vary by implementation and complexity of the environment).

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