As a member of the Amazon Web Services Partner Network, Perficient combines cloud expertise with the power of AWS to enable quick access to innovative technologies. With the Amazon Connect team, clients can spend more time on their core business competencies and less time worrying about the technology behind it.
A product within the Amazon Web Services platform, Amazon Connect creates powerful customer service solutions, providing an easy-to-use, cloud-based customer contact center that scales to support organizations of any size. We’re experts in the implementation, migration and on-going management of Amazon Connect services. In our ongoing series about our Amazon Connect team, we hear from Solutions Architect Lora-Lee Pond. Read the previous installment of the series here.
Can you tell me a bit about your educational/tech background?
I was 21 years old, a single mom, and I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life, so I went to college for marketing. After I left college, I still wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I moved to Toronto from Belleville and by chance, I was put in touch with someone who sold phone systems. I was hired as a 100 percent commission phone salesperson. I’d knock on doors, go into businesses and talk to them about what they were currently using and how our products could help. Because it was 100 percent commission, I had to work a night time job as a bartender and then sell in the day. It was a great learning experience on how to be emotionally ready for your day. Lots of people said ‘Get out of my office’ or would just slam doors in your face.
I became really good at it though and eventually quit my bartending job. After a couple of years, I decided what was more interesting was what was inside of the phones. I wanted to know how they worked, what made them ring. So I decided that I wanted to be a technician and started installing phone systems around the GTA, there were no other females at that time doing this. I was the only woman in the GTA who wore a tool belt, crawling around in an attic running cables and punching wires.
Eventually, I reached a point where I wanted to know how bigger businesses operated these phone systems. A technician I knew told me that Bell Canada was looking for someone to work in their call center practice on customer sites implementing Nortel Call Center Servers. I made the leap to working for Bell Canada, where I was a Call center routing person or an MCS, Manager Customer Systems. As with all things at the start, I didn’t know what it meant, but I figured it out. I got good at it and my career just kind of expanded from there. Over the years, I’ve been able to learn, grow and change and become extremely dynamic as the call center products were becoming extremely dynamic.
What is your job title at Perficient? Can you explain what you do?
My job title is still the title I got when I was hired, which is Solutions Architect but that doesn’t tell the whole story of what I do. A wonderful thing about my opportunity at Perficient was that when I joined, the Amazon Connect team was about five minutes old. At the time the Director of the practice needed a Solutions Architect to act like a Solutions Engineer so that we could figure out with Sales the product placement, how we were going to sell it. That role was something I could do.
For the first six months, I would get on calls, do demos and convince buyers to purchase. And internally we were scaling up, we went from five people to 10 to 15. Now we have a staff of over 40 across a couple of contact center product platforms.
My job kind of evolved to meet the changing needs of the practice. I kept being pulled into these pre- and post-selling meetings where there was a gap in the customer not knowing how to go from an on-premises contact center to one that was cloud-based. And managing that process was something I was really good at. So really, I’m a contact center migration specialist. That’s what I do, it’s my passion, and our customers trust us because we do it well.
What does a typical day look like for you on the Amazon Connect team?
It does change day to day but here’s a taste. This week started with a trip to Dallas on Monday, to meet a customer to run a pre-sales workshop. They’ve committed to moving forward with their contact center with us, they just don’t know how to do it. So I went down and sat in a room with 17 executive-level people to figure it out. We discussed the size, they have 3,000 agents and contact centers all over North America. My job really is to take them from where they are to where they want to be. It’s not just about migrating everything over, it’s also a chance to streamline. Some of the businesses have 300 to 2,000 toll-free numbers. That’s not necessarily needed these days.
After that, I met with a long-standing customer we’re working with. We had a proof of concept that we graduated to a live pilot, then that went to MVP. We took that live and have 2,000 agents running on the new platform. At this point, we have to figure out how to get all 7,000 agents up and running. We need to get it across the finish line and hand it over and that’s what this meeting was all about. There’s a book out there called ‘Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast.’ I’m always talking about that to my customers. I’ll say “Let’s think big, but we have to start small because we need to move fast.”
By Thursday, I was in the Perficient Chicago office. Talking to sales, engineering, and marketing about what we’re going to do for 2020. How do we all interact and do it together?
So that was this week in review. It’s a busy job and at the end of each week I digest it all and we start pulling it apart and figure out what we can do more of.
Amazon Connect has revolutionized the traditional contact center experience, by offering a cloud-based, pay-as-you-go solution. What is it about Amazon Connect that excites you?
Consumption-based modelling. Let me explain this a bit more.
Traditionally in a contact center, if you want anyone in an automatic call distribution (ACD) group, what that means is every person who needs to answer a call, a text, an email, or a chat needs a license to do that. Traditional contact center vendors licensed everything. You couldn’t send an email or answer the phone without having a license. Apart from that, you have your telco charges, maintenance fees, and hardware and software costs. There are a lot of residual costs when you’re setting it up. You can’t think big, you can’t start small and you can’t move fast.
Amazon’s Web Services division said “We don’t think we need monthly licenses. We think we can help customers get to where they need to if we move to pay as you use or consumption-based model”. It’s actually brilliant. Because instead of $750 or $1200 for a licensing fee for an agent, they now have zero licensing fees and they’re only charging for the consumption part.
Amazon Connect is phenomenal. AWS can act as your telephony provider, you can port over your numbers. Then you move your agents over. With Amazon Connect, you are only charged when you are connected with someone from outside the company. You save a lot of time and a lot of money.
Can you give me an example of a challenge a client of yours had and how you and the Amazon Connect team, overcame it?
The wonderful thing about my job is I get to go and speak with clients and help them figure out what their actual problem or challenge is. A lot of times, the perceived problem is not the actual problem. A lot of businesses will think they have a problem, but it’s just perception of a problem. It’s just a legacy system that’s dying. All they need is a system that will give them the agility they need to move forward in today’s market. So it’s actually not a problem. I have the solution for them, it’s Amazon Connect.
At Perficient, we are champions of customer satisfaction. What do you like best about working with clients?
It’s my passion. I’ll often be running on very little sleep, when you’re traveling so much, you don’t sleep well. Last night I didn’t get home till 4 am and I still have a passion for my job in my voice. Every single one of my clients become family and friends to me. I know a lot of people say that, but I truly mean it. I’ve been afforded by Perficient the ability to make those customers a priority. They let me run my own show and take pride in the fact that these customers trust in our ability to do this work. Perficient has an interesting angle on driving business. Once we have you as a customer, we’re going to give you all the tools. Be it people, software, solutions. Once you’re with us, you’re always with us and we’ll do everything we can to keep you.
Making the switch to new tech is challenging for anyone. What advice do you have to companies wanting to switch their contact centers to a cloud-based option, but who are perhaps hesitant or don’t know where to start?
Call us and we’ll help you! It is daunting and that’s why you should never do it on your own. This is not a pond, it’s an ocean to cross. It’s complicated, there are lots of rainy days and high seas. But with the right company guiding you, it can be easier. Nothing’s scary when you have the right partner guiding you. Those of us on the Amazon Connect team would love to hear from you!
For more information about how Perficient can help you get the most out of Amazon Connect, please contact us for a demo.