Amazon Connect FAQ

Overview

This article is designed to provide answers to the frequently asked questions pertaining to the Amazon Connect call-center software.

Amazon Connect at UO

Amazon Connect is for customer service but it is not a general purpose soft-phone.

Amazon Connect can be used for an advertised customer service number. Examples of groups currently using the system include UO Admissions, Financial Aid, Registrar s Office, Advising, Student Billing, and the Technology Service Desk. Agents in Amazon cannot be dialed directly from off-campus. We do have a general purpose soft-phone solution: Microsoft Teams calling

Amazon Connect and Teams calling can be used on the same PC. Low volume contact-centers or those that require agents to do more back-office work might consider using Teams calling queues instead of Amazon Connect.

Should I be using Amazon Connect for my department or program?

Some questions to help determine whether you should:

  • 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 Amazon Connect is very likely for you. Also, we do have some units that use Amazon Connect for outbound calling campaigns. 

Teams calling queues are an alternative system. In Teams calling we don't currently have statistics available, but with Teams calling you can have one system for both customer service and general telephone service. If you go the Teams calling route, then you also eliminate any complexity of having two soft-phone clients on the same PC. 

Lead Time For New Requests

A basic contact center can typically be done in 3-5 business days. The custom outbound caller ID requests go to Amazon and can sometimes take longer than five days. Any custom design timing depends on the complexity of design, speed of communication, implementation, and testing. 

General

What is the biggest difference between Avaya and Amazon Connect? 

Amazon Connect is a web-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 Amazon Connect work with our Avaya phone(s) or Avaya call-center? 

The two systems are separate. 

If you decide to take inbound calls with Amazon Connect, then you won't be using the Avaya telephones for that function any longer.

Note: Direct-dial (individual) 346 numbers still go to Teams calling even if you use Amazon Connect for your main customer service number. Amazon cannot allow direct-dial to agents from off-campus.

What do I need to think about initially? 

Do you intend to use the system for inbound, outbound or both? 

  • If you use it for outbound calling, which number do you want the caller ID to display. Note that we can request a custom caller ID including an existing (or new) UO phone number. 
  • If inbound, think about how you intend to staff and hours. If you choose to accept inbound calls, the system requires you to have someone to accept calls during open hours.

Avaya users considering or recently switched to the Amazon System

What are the main advantages of using Amazon 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 web-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 the 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 UO phone number to Amazon Connect. Of course, we test Amazon while leaving your main number on the Avaya system. Once you go live, you've changed systems. 

The main paradigm shift is from customer service via telephone to using a web-based system. It is possible to transfer a call from an Avaya telephone to the Amazon system and vice versa.

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 a poor fit for groups with low call volume and primarily conduct back-office work. These systems assume that during open hours someone is scheduled and available to take calls.

For example, with Amazon, someone has to be at a computer with their status on Available and watching for an inbound call (so physically at their computer for their shift). With the 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 workflow 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 (e.g., a bridged appearance). 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, etc.), one can select Offline for their status. The system will not route calls to any agent selected as Offline. Synonyms 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 softphone. It runs on a personal computer, but otherwise is quite similar. Agents in the Amazon system cannot be direct-dialed as 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 five-second after call work (ACW) which makes sure the agent doesn't immediately get the next call (e.g., it's a short break between calls). The duration of ACW is configurable should you need more time between calls (e.g., to log the call or take notes). During ACW, the agent selects Offline to ensure they don't continue to receive calls.

What happens with voicemail?

Amazon Connect does not automatically include a voicemail system. At UO, we opted to just keep the existing voicemail system for use with it.

If someone calls and leaves your group a message (e.g., on the main number), then you check your messages the same as you've always done. Any connections that go to voicemail stay the same. For example, very often the closed handling for a main line is voicemail 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?

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.

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 Connect can be configured with priorities (up to four 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 Voice Services Support 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. 

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 voicemail.

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 set to 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 three-way call.  If the agent initially selects join, and introduces the caller, they can still select Leave Call to complete the transfer. 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 workaround to an agent not being available is to transfer to their telephone number instead.   

I created some Quick Connects. Why don't they appear?

The dialer window, called the Contact Control Panel (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. 

  • 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 voicemail. 
  • 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 three-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 directly 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 (e.g., 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 groups 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 began. 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 questions and answers. 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 it. 

For this reason, we recommend folks use a 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 a split-tunnel VPN going? Consult the Getting Started with UO VPN article on split tunnel connections.

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 computer 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 computer that you are using and use Amazon Connect directly on that computer (e.g., 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 computer's built-in microphone. 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 via Bluetooth).  

What is the pricing at UO?

Please see Telecommunications Billing Rates about Amazon Connect.

Please avoid wireless (802.11) Wi-Fi-connected computers for use with call-center activities. 

Amazon Connect is being used as a primary customer service contact method for the University of Oregon. As such, we do want both the customer and agent experience to be as good as possible. We know that wired connections will be more reliable. For this reason, please avoid using wireless connections with Amazon Connect. 

Note: it is possible to acquire wired Ethernet adapters for computers that don t come with Ethernet/wired ports. 

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 UO phone number to Amazon Connect.

Can we have more than one call center inside our Amazon 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 two or more call centers into Amazon Connect, and at least initially you wish to keep things separate (e.g., separate staff answering each, 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
Thu 11/17/22 8:57 AM