Call centers have the reputation of being big and complex systems that take years to complete from the creation of the architecture to deployment. The thinking is that only the wealthy can afford the fancy market-leading features. Well, it's certainly not true anymore. Amazon is breaking the trend with AWS Connect architecture, where, in fact, you can get a basic call center working in minutes and for less than you think! But don't imagine that this is some kind of second class version. This is the same solution that the enterprises use!
Simple AWS Connect ArchitectureHere you can see what this looks like from an architecture point of view… pretty simple right? But don’t think of this as some sort of an inferior solution. This has the same features that an enterprise level business runs, but it uses the highly available, cost-optimized Amazon Connect infrastructure that scales on-demand and only charges for what you use! Your solution architects are able to build a high quality customer experience with telephony (toll free and DDIs numbers), IVR menus, contact trace record, Lambda, call queues, reporting, and so on. Best of all, you can add more features as you grow to increase customer service. This architecture is perfect for:
- Small production call centers (i.e. IT helpdesk, HR)
- Organizations that are wanting to test and learn at pace.
Your Basic AWS Connect ArchitectureOnce you create an AWS account, learn, and grow with the AWS Connect architecture, you’ll find more use cases for even greater features. You may end up with something like this: Ok, so we’ve added a few extra components here, but you'll get some pretty impressive features: Amazon S3: This is used to store call recordings. You have the option to record customer, agent, or both and store these indefinitely. Audio is recorded in an open format (WAV) so you can add tools later to analyze the information, or just simply listen to them via playback, which is available directly from the Amazon Connect UI. You also use Amazon S3 to save call reports, and, just like the call recordings, you can save as many reports as you want for as long as you like. And using an AWS service called Athena, you’re able to query these flat files on-demand at any time. Lambda function is s special service I highly recommend you learn about. Lambda allows code to be executed on demand and what the code does is up to the developer building it. In this scenario, we can use the data returned from the Lambda function to affect the customer experience, provide information to the caller, or provide text for the messaging prompts. It can also integrate into other AWS Services, third-party party APIs, or your own existing services. DynamoDB: This is a NoSQL database from Amazon. You can store your customer orders, account information, have an administration database to affect special routing, and more. When used in the AWS Connect architecture above, we can use the caller's ANI, or phone number, which is sent from Amazon Connect to Lambda function, to look the caller order up in the database and provide the caller with personalized information. This does a good job of providing a self-service customer experience. The information is dynamic and the Amazon Connect architecture can handle it with its built-in text to speech engine, so no need for complicated IVR messaging. You can also provide the caller some options to update the information, and Lambda function will update that in DynamoDB for you.
A More Advanced AWS Connect ArchitectureOk, by now you can see how you can start small and build on your investment. The great thing here is you get to see the value of a rapid development cycle, and you can start to drive your own wish list as you see more value-add opportunities. So lets up the ante just a little… While this looks like a significant advancement, it’s still fairly contained. Lets build on the previous model some more. Amazon S3: This time we add a custom Administration Portal for your ‘Ops Team’ so they can affect the routing via toggle buttons, close routing ad-hoc, play special messages (that they type into the portal), and respond to increasing demands. Lambda function: As shown previously, however, this time we also connect to a Simple Notification Service (SNS). This allows us to send mobile notifications, SMS, and emails. This can be completed DURING or AFTER the contact. Amazon Lex: This is the AI engine that drives Alexa. You’re able to provide natural conversational interactions for the whole journey or just parts of the journey. Think about when your customer connects with you and the first thing they hear/see. Welcome back Donna. I see your flight has been cancelled, would you like to reschedule? Note I say hear and see because Lex is a voice and text chatbot service. You only need to code once and you can reuse that chatbot within Amazon Connect (or export it to Alexa), and integrate it with your website. Kinesis Streams: This provides the real-time streaming of all the contact trace records (CTRs) data from Amazon Connect. These are the results of the contacts from Amazon Connect. The data sits in streams waiting for a consumer, in our case the Lambda, to do something with it. Lambda function: As explained above, this provides post-processing of the records and can perform actions, like a post-contact survey, and send the data onto Firehose. Kinesis Firehose: Firehose is a variant on streams which is more for batch type data movement, and is needed to feed Redshift. Redshift: This is Amazon’s enterprise data warehouse solution where your data scientists are able to run queries on massive amounts of data.
In conclusionAs you can see, a call center does not have to be big and complex, or take years and lots of dollars to create. With the AWS Connect architecture:
- You’re able to start small and grow.
- No two implementations need to be the same. You can create a solution just for you!