AWS Connect FAQ- Start Here!

Audience:

Should I be using AWS Connect for my department or program? Do you have an advertised main number? Do you have staff scheduled to answer the phone during open hours? If the answer to these questions is "yes" then AWS Connect is very likely for you.   

Connect is for customer service but it is not a general purpose soft-phone. It does not replace one's telephone. An individual cannot request AWS Connect service, however departments, programs and call-centers can. Examples of groups currently using the system include UO Admissions, Registrar's Office, Advising, Student Billing, and the Technology Service Desk. 

AWS Connect is the same thing as Amazon Connect.  We've decided to update documentation to use AWS Connect exclusively, but those updates will take time. 

General:

What is the biggest difference between Avaya and Amazon Connect? AWS connect is a PC-based system. For example, there is no way to connect a corded phone to Amazon Connect as the phone runs as software in a web browser. 

How does AWS Connect work with our Avaya phone(s) or Avaya call-center? The two systems are separate. If you decide to take inbound calls with AWS Connect, then you won't be using the Avaya telephones for that function any longer.

Avaya Users considering or recently switched to the Amazon System:

What are the main advantages of using AWS over the traditional Avaya phone system? This system is "cloud hosted" which in effect means it can be accessed from anywhere one has Internet access. This permits the UO to provide the customer service function from virtually anywhere. This means agents can be either on or off-campus. Your agent may be a student working from home, or a staff member in another state.  The agent's physical location is very flexible. The number of agents can expand or contract very quickly.  The flexible location feature is especially important during the pandemic where we may need a mix of agents where some are working from home, and some are working from on-campus. 

I have an agent in an office with no telephone. Is that a problem? No it isn't. The Amazon Connect system is completely computer-based. The software runs either in Chrome or Firefox. Typically an agent needs an Internet connected computer, which can be a laptop, and a headset with microphone to use this system. The system is independent from our Avaya phone system. 

Can I use Avaya Agents with Amazon Connect?  No. They are separate systems. Inbound calls are either handled by Avaya or Amazon but not both. For example, after you go live with Amazon Connect, you cannot use the Login, Take-Calls, Pause, and Logout buttons on your Avaya telephones. When your Amazon Connect contact center goes live for inbound calling, we forward your main 346 number to Amazon Connect.   Of course, we test Amazon while leaving your main number on the Avaya system.   But once you "go live" you've changed systems.  The main paradigm shift is from customer service via telephone to using a PC based system.  It is possible to transfer a call from an Avaya telephone to the Amazon system, and for an agent on the Amazon system to transfer a caller to an Avaya telephone.   

What is the biggest problem with call center applications? Both Avaya and Amazon's call-center applications assume that agents are specifically scheduled to answer calls during open hours.  These applications can be less of a good fit for groups with really low-volume of calls and primarily back-office work.   These systems assume that during open hours someone is scheduled and available to take calls.  So for example, with Amazon, someone has to be at a PC with their status on available and watching for an inbound call (so physically at their PC for their shift).   With Avaya call center it is similar in that someone has to be logged in and on 'take-calls' during open hours.  For some groups on the UO campus, this can be a significant work-flow change.  Some groups manage this change by having shifts assigned for staff to answer phones which preserves other times for back-office work and projects. 

My department has a main line number that rings on multiple phones (aka bridged-appearances).  Whomever is available picks up the call.  Can I do that with Amazon Connect? The short answer is no.  Amazon assumes that agents are assigned to pickup the phone during open hours.   Rather than ringing all, the system distributes calls evenly and automatically between agents with 'available' status.  If one needs a break, or needs to do back office work (i.e. not take calls), one can select "Offline" for their status. The system will not route calls to any agent selected as "Offline."    Synonyms to "Offline" include "Lunch,"  "Break," and  "Meeting" selectable from the status drop-down menu.

If I already have an Avaya call-center (ACD) in place, is the function similar with Amazon Connect?  Yes, if you already have a call center, Amazon Connect can do virtually everything the Avaya system can do.   The typical hurdle is getting folks to schedule agents (staff) to pickup the phone.  If you already have staff scheduled to pickup the phone, then the transition to Amazon will be much easier.   Amazon Connect does not use telephones, it uses a browser-based soft-phone.    In short it runs on a personal computer, but otherwise is quite similar.  Agents in the Amazon system cannot be direct-dialed (they have no phone number).    All callers dial the main number to reach an agent.   Amazon agents *can* transfer callers to any telephone number including an Avaya desk phone if desired.  

How do I press 'pause' in Amazon to go on break? Unlike the Avaya system, one cannot select 'pause' while in a call.   Each call should include at least a 5 second 'after-call-work' or ACW which makes sure the agent doesn't immediately get the next call.   i.e. it's a short break between calls.  The duration of ACW is configurable should you need more time between calls (i.e. to log the call or take notes).  During the ACW "break," the agent selects "Offline" to insure they don't continue to receive calls. 

What happens with voicemail?  Amazon Connect does not automatically include a voice mail system.   At the UO, we opted to just keep the existing voice mail system for use with Connect.   So if someone calls and leaves your group a message (i.e. on the main number), then you check your messages the same as you've always done.    So any connections that go to voice mail stay the same.  For example, very often the closed handling for a main line is voice mail in the current Avaya system, and that stays the same when you go to Amazon Connect. 

Using Amazon Connect:

In Amazon Connect, can I close the browser to go offline?  Sadly no.  This means each agent must insure they have selected Offline before closing the browser.   If one forgets, then the caller will ring until they get frustrated and hang up.   Once an agent has missed one call (20 seconds of ringing unanswered), their status goes to "Missed!" in red text.  Subsequent callers will be routed to other available agents, but the caller who was missed does not re-queue. 

Priority- What if I have back office work and don't want to be interrupted? The simple fix is to select "Offline," but it is also possible, on request, for us to create priorities or tiers within the call distribution.  Amazon's Connect can be configured with priorities (up to 4 at UO), which means that agents in priority 1 always get calls first if available, then priority 2 and so on.   This allows managers or those doing a special project to become less likely to get the next call even if on "available."    Please note that priority handling must be specifically requested and telecommunications staff have to be involved in the priority distribution creation.  That being said, it is not an uncommon thing to request and not a problem for us to implement.   Please allow a few business days to make this change, or ask us for it when we create your contact center. 

Quick Connects (Speed Dials): The Amazon system allows anyone with "UO Supervisor" role to create quick connects.  These are like speed dials, but can also be used for transfers.   So an agent can transfer the caller to any other phone number, including another group's main number (i.e. Registrar, Financial Aid, Student Billing, Tech Desk, etc) more easily.  If one wants, one can create a quick connect for "Steve's Office Phone" or even "Steve's Cell Phone" if permitted.    It is also possible to create a quick-connect to a specific agent or queue.   In order for a quick connect to an agent to work, that agent must be "Online."  You won't lose the caller if you attempt to transfer to an agent that isn't online, but you cannot complete the transfer.     If the agent is not online, then you might transfer to the agent's desk telephone number, and if no answer, the call will typically land on voice mail. 

Can I transfer the caller? Agents can transfer calls to any telephone number they type in, or to Quick Connects (speed dials).  Quick Connects can be other named queues (think function based groups of agents), other agents if 'available' or to any telephone number.  In the current version of Amazon Connect, there is no button labeled "Transfer."  When one is on the phone, one can select the 'Quick Connect' button (even if one has no Quick Connects defined), and then use the dialer to place a call.  The original party on the line is placed on hold, and the agent can either click "Leave Call" to do a blind transfer, or stay on the line and click 'Join' for a 3-way call.  If the agent initially selects join, and introduces the caller, they can still select "Leave Call" to complete the transfer.   So the process isn't exactly intuitive but is relatively simple.  And yes, all transfers require the agent to click 'Quick Connect' even if no "speed dials"  are defined.  

Can I directly transfer a call to another Amazon Connect Agent? Yes, but only if you have created a quick connect (speed dial) to that agent.   Also that agent has to be logged into the system and 'available' to receive a call.    Note that one can transfer directly to the agent's Avaya desk telephone number if the agent is on-campus, or to their cellular number if permitted.   If you have a special 'agent' that never takes inbound calls, but does need to take escalations, we can give that user a login such that they never take inbound calls except via agent transfer.   We have limited resources to do this, so per-call center that needs to be five or fewer escalation-only agents.    The common work-around to an agent not being available is to transfer to their telephone number instead.   

OK I created some Quick Connects, why don't they appear? The dialer window (called the CCP) does not show Quick Connects for transfer until an agent is in a call which includes any Quick Connect of type 'agent' or 'queue.'  Quick Connects to phone numbers (Amazon calls these 'external') do appear when an agent is not in a call, and function like a speed dial. Quick Connects also have to be assigned per queue.  All agents in the queue will get the benefit of the quick connects once assigned.  One needs "UO Supervisor" role to assign quick connects to a queue.   

Queuing calls: For smaller call centers we typically don't queue the caller automatically to help avoid a case where callers are indefinitely queued.  If you want to queue calls, then you must insure at least one person is taking calls during your open hours.   We also need you to ask for call queuing as it is nor our default.  So if you have agents available, calls will automatically route to the next available agent, if no agents are available, callers are routed to your closed handling, which is typically voice mail.  High volume call centers will likely require queuing, and will need some oversight to avoid the condition where calls are not being answered.    Amazon Connect has a real time metrics screen that UO Agents and UO supervisors should review while using the system to insure proper function.  

Why does Amazon Connect not show a transfer button? There is no 'transfer' button per-se.  Amazon makes the agent select 'Quick Connects' to start a transfer even when no Quick Connects are defined. In addition, the system will only show certain options when available.  For example, one cannot see the button needed to transfer a call until one is on a call.  All Amazon transfers are actually 3-way calls.   The transfer happens when the agent selects the "Leave Call" button after adding the destination party. 

Is this system intended to replace our phones? No.  The agents cannot be direct-dialed and have no telephone number.  It is designed to replace the customer service function for voice calls presently, and down the line permit multiple modes of contact, i.e. text chat, and SMS using the same agents. 

How do I transfer the caller to another group using Amazon Connect? Each Amazon Connect contact center runs as if it is standalone.   They're really not integrated in a way where you can see other contact center agent status.   You end up typically using a quick connect to the other group's main number.    There is a cost-savings for us if you create your quick connect to the normally hidden Amazon specific call center number.   We can get you a list of UO Amazon Connect contact centers and those "hidden" numbers.    

The system seems fairly plain.  Are other features planned?   Yes, we hurried to roll out Amazon Connect to get the customer service functions up and running when the pandemic "hit."  We're in phase 1, which is voice-only.   The system will eventually be able to do online chat and SMS.  Amazon also supports BOTS for commonly asked question and answer. The system can be extended to do database "dips" and provide agents with on-screen information. 

Is a UO VPN Connection Required to use Amazon Connect? No. In fact, the fastest/best connections are direct from your computer to the Amazon URL.  Most remote UO users likely need UO VPN for at least some of their work-tasks, but Amazon Connect does not require such.  For this reason we recommend folks use 'split tunnel' VPN which sends traffic to Amazon directly for best efficiency, but still permits secure VPN access for those sites that require it.   Need help getting the split tunnel VPN going?  Check with your IT support or the IS technical support desk for direction on how to do this. 

Can I use Amazon Connect via Remote Desktop  (RDP)? Try to avoid this condition if you can.   Should you require remote desktop for some of your applications, you can likely run Amazon Connect in a Chrome or Firefox browser running on the local PC you are using, then flip to the RDP window as the need be.   Ideally, you will load all of your work applications on the 'remote' PC that you are using and use Amazon Connect directly on that PC (i.e. at home or wherever you are).   Need help getting off of RDP?  Check with your IT support group for assistance in doing so. 

Does this system require a headset (headphones)? In a strict sense no, however, audio quality for our customers can be poor, and maybe even unacceptably poor unless the agent wears a headset.    The headset helps keep out sound that is external to the conversation.  They also reduce a likely echo experience when used with a PC's built in mic.  It's a trade off between quality of service and agent convenience.   Using a headset is recommended to provide the best customer experience. One example headset is the Logitech 570E mono which is easy to use and to support.  The wired headsets are less complex to support (vs. wireless e.g. bluetooth).  

What is the pricing at UO?   Please See https://service.uoregon.edu/TDClient/2030/Portal/KB/ArticleDet?ID=72274
Look for "Amazon Connect" about 2/3 down the rate sheet page.

Advanced Amazon Questions (for existing users): 

Can we have more than one inbound number? Yes, you can.   The simplest form of this is to just forward old numbers to the new one (shared), all the way out to having separate call queues with agents staffed between them.  

Can I tell the agent which number the customer called? Yes, you can.  We can set a whisper that informs the agent which number was dialed before answering the call.   This is useful when we combine two or more call centers.  

Can I keep my old number? Yes, for the outbound calls we can send 541-346-XXXX as the caller ID. We send whatever your existing call center uses.  When you "go live" for inbound calls we forward the existing 346 number to Amazon AWS Connect.   So inbound and outbound "work."

Can we have more than one call-center inside our AWS Connect environment?   Yes.  

Can I have multiple inbound and outbound numbers? Yes.  If you have a case where you manage more than one call center today, and wish to permit agents to take and make calls as the old numbers, we can do that.  Each can have separate hours of operation and even separate staff.  We don't recommend keeping undo complexity, but if need be, the system has that capability.   

Why might I (or someone) want to have multiple inbound and outbound numbers? If you are moving 2 or more call centers into Amazon AWS connect, and at least initially you wish to keep things separate.  i.e. separate staff answering each, and with correct outbound caller ID per-each.  Down the line, you can share staff.  For example, staff can be designated for one queue, or another and can change.   In addition, some staff can service more than one queue.   This may be an in-between state, before fully merging two contact-centers.   Please don't ask for this complex setup unless you are merging operations, or have some good business use-case for doing so. 

Details

Article ID: 112845
Created
Wed 7/29/20 11:24 AM
Modified
Wed 9/16/20 5:04 PM