Turret – One of the Most Baffling Jargons Used In Call Centers


Jargons are special words or terms, which are used in a set context. It is well understood by those who fit into the context and can be confusing to those who do not.
In a social conversation, excessive use of jargons makes the user come across as ignorant (if it is used incorrectly or out of context), or arrogant (if it is used excessively). However, it is natural to use them almost every day in call centers, mainly because the primary job deals with a number of technical and IT-related tasks which necessitate the use of these terms.
So, what is a Turret?
Since the inception of call centers, the primary medium for conducting business (which hasn’t changed over the years), has been the telephone. Call center agents are provided a telephone set which includes, along with the number pad, several buttons and switches that perform numerous other functions. The telephone set used by call centers in the 1980s/90s was referred to as a turret. Today, the term is practically non-existent.
To those who have seen a telephone system, there is nothing in its appearance which suggests a turret of any kind. While telephone systems have changed over the years and were quite bulky and large in the 80s and 90s, the term turret does not describe or even hint that you are talking about a voice-based communication system of any kind.
Was it called a turret because the telephone receiver remotely resembled one or because the display protruded from the device like one? It’ll probably remain a mystery, considering the term isn’t even used nowadays, at least not commonly.

Telephone systems today

The past 10 years have seen telephone systems in call centers evolve from analog to digital. Many call centers do not even use traditional calling methods anymore. They are merely used to monitor agent times, queues, or calls waiting. Even then, telephone systems are highly useful in calculating a number of parameters such as AHT (Average Handling Time/ Average Hold Time), ASA (Average Speed of Answer), ATT (Average Talk Time), ACW (After Call Work), call transfers, and many others.
The telephone system is hooked to a monitor that shows all the call parameters currently in use, the number of agents staffed to take calls, and the number of calls in the queue. When an agent is on break or is unable to take up a new call because of other work, they can punch in the relevant code which then shows up on the monitor next to their name. Once back, they can use another key code to pick up new calls.
The cost involved in setting up telephone systems is one of the reasons call centers are shifting their operations to more digital platforms such as email, chat, Skype, Lync, and other voice-based digital media.

The use of ‘turret’ in today’s circles

If you were to use the term ‘turret’ in today’s call centers, you are sure to receive a few baffled reactions. The nomenclature of many Avaya phones does include the word turret, but its use in regular call center slang is unheard of.
In financial trading circles, the term turret is used to describe a telephone system consisting of a number of speakers, telephone lines, and components which aid them in their dealings. It is also called trading turret or dealer board.

Technical jargon (or jargon, in general) and its use in a social context

Technical jargons find their roots in the 1980s when companies like Apple and Microsoft used them to describe their products and services. Mainstream media probably picked it up and, thus, created a dictionary of jargons. Words such as ‘solution’, ‘scalable’, ‘interface’, and even ‘experience’ were jargons which are commonplace in today’s technical environments.

Tips to avoid using excessive jargons and communicate better

Everyone uses jargons from time to time. Authors, news anchors, scientists, researchers, teachers are all guilty of overdoing it with the vocabulary. Some people use jargon to come across as smarter than the others in the group; others to simply fit in. Here are some tips to communicate with people without using jargon.

  • Understand the audience with whom you are communicating.
  • Use simple words and phrases as often as you can, unless it is required for you to jargon it up.
  • Keep the conversation short and simple.
  • Do not use buzzwords, abbreviations, acronyms, synonyms, or anything with which your group isn’t familiar.
  • Jargons are incomprehensible to people who do not share the same industry, profession, or office as the user. Therefore, it is always wise to use them where their use is considered appropriate.

There are, of course, situations where the removal of jargon may significantly dumb them down. For example, if you are writing a paper on calculating performance for agents in a call center, you would have to use ample jargons to get the point across. The key here is to maintain a balance between jargon usages and understand where its use is relevant.