Terms and Definitions

Luis Santiago Updated by Luis Santiago

This is a guide to our frequently-used and frequently-referenced terms in daily business, our terms of service, and our privacy policy. If there are any terms or concepts you encounter that are not defined here, please let us know.

Callbacks & Outbound Calls

Our team will call a person, taking specific action based on instructions (e.g., booking an appointment, rescheduling), or relaying a message you want relayed. These can include warm sales calls, follow-ups, appointment reminders, business relationship check-ins, and more.


Callbacks are outbound calls responding to messages or summaries from Smith.ai. These often come in the form of replies to call summaries, such as "Please call her back and let her know I have an opening on Wednesday if she can come down to the office."

Missed Call Callback

In the event our team is unable to answer a call, we call back.

Spanish-Speaking Callback

In the event our team is unable to answer a call with a bilingual receptionist, we have a Spanish-speaking receptionist call back.

Smith.ai does not offer cold sales calls as part of its Outbound Call scope

Call Transfer

Call transfer is the act of, as it sounds, connecting a call (transferring) from our system to another recipient. For example, if a caller meets your criteria for a new lead, your instructions may specify we attempt a transfer to you, and take a message if you are unavailable.

Cold Transfer

When attempting a transfer between a caller and the intended recipient, our system will detect an answer and disconnect, discreetly, when the connection is made. No introduction is made between the caller and the recipient.

Warm Transfer

When attempting a transfer between a caller and the intended recipient, our system will detect an answer and reintroduce the receptionist to the call, when the connection is made. The receptionist will then introduce the caller to the recipient, the recipient will greet and accept the call, and the receptionist will exit the call.


A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a tool that helps with contact management, sales management, productivity, and more. Smith.ai integrates with most of the popular CRMs our customers need, and we add more monthly. Learn more from one of the leaders, Salesforce, here.




Overflow call handling occurs when your phone system rings one phone number first, then forwards to Smith.ai after a certain number of rings or time. For example, you may have an in-house admin or paralegal who also answers the phones. However, when that admin is unavailable, you don't want to miss calls. In that situation, you set up your phone system to overflow calls to Smith.ai via call forwarding.


Qualification is the process of determining if a caller meets your requirements as a prospective ("qualified") customer of your business based on criteria you set. There are multiple stages of qualification. You can visualize them as books on a shelf, with the left book-end as "initial contact" and the right book-end as "Intake," which is post-qualification information gathering.

Stage 1: Collection of contact information

A lead is (usually) useless to a business without a means of contact or identification (for technology companies, this gets fuzzy).

Stage 2: Establishment of service fit

Are you the right person or business to be providing the services to meet their needs? We now establish if the lead's problem, issue, need, or concern can be satisfied by the work you provide and the scope of services you offer.

Stage 3: Scoping of service availability

Geography, conflict of interest, timeframe, budget, and other dealbreaker factors determine your ability to provide a service. For attorneys, this may also include whether action has been taken against the lead or if they have a court date. For IT consultants, this could include the size of the business or the location of the work needed.

Stage 4: Confirmation of your requirements

You have your requirements. That could be an appointment booked on the calendar for a 30-minute consultation, an up-front consultation fee of $200, an address for the service provided, and much more. Up to this point, we've gathered information. This is the stage where we reiterate the requirements to the lead and commit to action, either actively (booking the appointment or referring the client out) or passively (taking a message and passing it to you).


Sales calls are live calls with the goal of you, the prospect, becoming a client or customer of their product or service. These can be based on prearranged relationships (you left your business card in a fish bowl at a conference in a competition to win an iPad) or cold calling (you're on a list they generated). For some businesses, sales calls are desirable and a necessary part of every day business. For others, those calls — even the same vendors such as Yelp or Avvo — are wholly unwanted. Which leads us to...

Unwanted Sales

Unwanted sales are sales calls from vendors you want blocked, prevented from reaching you further. Their calls are undesirable to you and your business.


Think of spam calls as you would email spam: unwanted mass communication. The junk mail of telephony. They are dialed in bulk by automated systems, and ring your line without any request or prior interaction (that means if you gave someone your number and their salesperson called you, it's not spam). These calls may be live (telemarketers, pollsters, canvassers) or automated (robotic greetings, automated messages). The latter category is known as robocalls, which can either start the message when you answer or just play any portion of an ongoing recorded feed.

We include scam calls in our broader category of spam as well. These calls are can be live or automated and often include impersonation of federal authority (IRS), IT support ("your PC has a virus"), or a relative in need.

Spam calls are specific and, categorically, cannot fall into new/existing leads, sales, business partners, or any other deliberate call from an individual or business.

Virtual Receptionist

A virtual receptionist is a human receptionist answering calls remotely, instead of in-office.

A virtual receptionist is not a bot or automated technology.

Wrong Number

A wrong number call is when the caller intended to reach another person or business, but reached you instead. This can occur when

  • the caller has dialed the wrong number (e.g., 4567 instead of 4568)
  • the caller has an outdated number for a different business that you now own
  • the caller received SMS spam from a number spoofing yours, and calls it back
A wrong number is not a valid call from a person attempting to reach you or your business, even if they are not qualified.

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How to restart SMS call notifications

The Basics