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The Limitless Contact Center: Amazon Connect and the AWS Platform

Amazon Connect is my new fascination. Typically, contact center and “fascination” don’t go together, but the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform makes me feel like a kid in a candy shop. There really aren’t limits on what you can do to customize (and modernize) your contact center.

Amazon Connect is only one service out of over 100 Amazon Web Services. It’s a small piece of a global cloud computing platform (AWS) where you can build things and experiment by mixing and matching different services.

Out of the box, Amazon Connect is an entire cloud contact center stack, but by integrating with other AWS services, you can do things that were outside of the realm of possibility in a private data center like incorporating artificial intelligence (Amazon Lex) or reacting in real time to what’s happening in your contact center (Amazon Kinesis).

Let’s look at how the following AWS services enhance Amazon Connect functionality.

AWS Lambda: Design Your Own AWS “Services”

AWS Lambda fills gaps. If there’s a service that Amazon doesn’t provide, you can use Lambda to fill in that gap. Lambda lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers. You only pay for the compute time you consume—there’s no charge when your code isn’t running. Because Lambda is charged based on 100 millisecond increments and because many Lambda functions execute in less than 100 milliseconds, you can get a lot out of this service for free (check out the free tier, too!). JavaScript, Python, Java (Java 8 compatible), C# (.NET core), and Go are all supported. Just upload your code and Lambda takes care of the rest.

How does it enhance Amazon Connect? With Lambda, you can fetch results in a contact flow, call your own services, or interact with other AWS data stores or services. You can create multiple integration points in your contact flows by passing and returning key-value pairs. Lambda can pull data from any source (like DynamoDB) and use it to provide custom greetings, pass the data to a chatbot, or inform agents about the current caller so your customers don’t have to re-enter information that’s already available.

Amazon DynamoDB: Store and Reference Caller Information

Amazon DynamoDB is a fully managed NoSQL database service.

How does it enhance Amazon Connect? DynamoDB is great for storing and referencing caller information in Amazon Connect, plus Lambda functions can easily write and read from DynamoDB. If you want to run code and save the results, DynamoDB is the place to do it.

Amazon Lex: Automate Your Customer Support

Amazon Lex uses automatic speech recognition (ASR) and natural language understanding (NLU) to convert speech to text and to recognize the intent of the text, allowing you to build lifelike interactions.

How does it enhance Amazon Connect? Amazon Lex can integrate with Amazon Connect to deliver Interactive Voice Response (IVR) experiences in contact flows. While speaking with a live agent shouldn’t always be replaced, Lex is a fitting self-service solution for callers checking on an order status or completing simple transactions. You can also use Lex for verification steps and follow up questions in the contact flow, reducing the amount of time your callers spend on hold while providing a personalized experience.

Amazon Polly: Skip the Voice Talent

Amazon Web Services - Avoid Contact Center Outages: Plan Your Upgrade to Amazon Connect
Avoid Contact Center Outages: Plan Your Upgrade to Amazon Connect

Learn the six most common pitfalls when upgrading your contact center, and how Amazon Connect can help you avoid them.

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Amazon Polly offers machine learning-integrated text to speech in 52 voices and 25 languages—there are eight voices for U.S. English alone! It’s very fast and it works great for interactive conversations.

How does it enhance Amazon Connect? Skip the voice talent by using Amazon Polly in your contact flows in place of recorded prompts. Basic text to speech is the quickest option, but SSML allows additional control over how Polly generates speech. With SSML, you can alter things like accent, pitch, volume, rate, breaks, emphasis, and more. You can also make multiple adjustments within a single tag to create an incredibly engaging experience. For instance, the <break> tag allows you to set the length of a pause with either a strength or time attribute.

Amazon S3: Own Your Data

Amazon S3 is a simple storage service. It’s a complete object storage platform built to store and retrieve any amount of data from anywhere.

How does it enhance Amazon Connect? Amazon S3 integrates with Amazon Connect from the start. Each instance has two S3 buckets—one is for recordings, and one is for historical reports. Amazon doesn’t just store your data and give you access to it—you own your data, and you can do anything you want with it. Over time, as recordings or reports age, you may decide to move your data from standard S3 storage to the less expensive, infrequent access S3 storage. If you’re looking for a long-term backup solution that’s even cheaper, you can move your data to Amazon Glacier, which is separate from Amazon S3.

AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM): Securely Control Access to AWS Services

AWS Identity and Access Management enables you to create and manage AWS users and groups and use permissions to allow or deny their access to AWS resources.

How does it enhance Amazon Connect? AWS Identity and Access Management is a feature of your AWS account offered at no additional charge. It’s secure by default; users don’t have access to AWS resources unless you explicitly grant them. With IAM, you can do things like restrict or allow users and groups to read the contents of an Amazon S3 bucket.

Amazon Kinesis: React in Real-Time

Amazon Kinesis lets you process and analyze data as it arrives. You can then respond instantly to it instead of having to wait until all of your data is collected.

How does it enhance Amazon Connect? Although Amazon Connect has plenty of reporting capabilities out of the box, Amazon Kinesis is useful if you want additional reporting capabilities like digging into contact attributes or analyzing what’s happening in your contact flows. It’s also useful for streaming contact trace records (CTRs) and agent event streams data.

Amazon Redshift: Analyze Your Data

Amazon Redshift is a data warehouse that lets you use your existing business intelligence tools along with standard SQL to evaluate your data.

How does it enhance Amazon Connect? While other AWS services are more useful to analyze smaller data queries, Amazon Redshift is a great tool to evaluate large data samples from your contact center. This makes it ideal for processing and publishing Amazon Kinesis data streams to get detailed analytics and reporting on your contact center data.

Amazon CloudWatch: Troubleshoot Your Contact Flows

Amazon CloudWatch collects, tracks, and monitors metrics for AWS cloud resources and any applications you run on AWS. You can use this data to gain insights, set alarms, and react to changes in your environment in real-time.

How does it enhance Amazon Connect? When setting up an Amazon Connect instance, you can choose to enable contact flow logs, which will collect block by block information (caller selections, intents and utterances, etc.) from the contact flow to send to CloudWatch. You can monitor contact center operational metrics using the Dashboard or you can set alarms that trigger email alerts. For example, if you have a large number of calls dropping at a certain point in your contact flow, you can set an alarm using CloudWatch.

Is That It?

Nope. These are just a handful of the AWS services that can increase the power of Amazon Connect. With a platform as flexible and robust as AWS, Amazon Connect allows for a truly modern contact center. How could you streamline your contact center if you had access to a platform like AWS? What are some limits in your current contact center? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Interested to learn more? Request a demo or contact us here.

As an Amazon Partner Network (APN) Advanced Consulting Partner, Perficient can help customers of all sizes design, architect, build, migrate, and manage their Amazon Connect contact center. Our deep expertise in contact center implementation and Amazon Web Services paired with our attention to customer care ensures you get the best end-to-end solutions, including everything from hands-on technical assistance to managing organizational change.

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Alexandra Elledge

I'm a Senior Technical Writer and Trainer for Perficient's Amazon Connect Practice. Amazon Connect is a pay as you go cloud-based contact center service that’s part of the Amazon Web Services platform.

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