How to stand up a Contact Centre in 15 minutes

Marketing 14th January 2019

Here we will guide you through setting up a simple, but effective, contact centre from scratch. It assumes you have one phone number that offers the caller a simple two-option IVR, which is then directed to an appropriate agent with the relevant skill for the option the customer has chosen providing it’s within normal opening hours. There are eight steps:

  1. Build your contact centre infrastructure: Create everything you need to start building your contact centre application.
  2. Opening hours: Create the desired opening hours for your contact centre call flows.
  3. Create queues: Define every call type that agents will be taking, also known as skills (e.g. service, sales, support, HR etc.). These will be assigned to routing profiles and users later on.
  4. Create contact flows: Once a call reaches the contact centre it will be guided through the designated call flow. Getting this right is vital as it relates directly to the customer experience. It should include features such as: a welcome message; select an option; queue for an agent; play queue music.
  5. Claim a phone number: Amazon provide Toll-Free and Direct Inward Dial (Local Rate) numbers to allow your customers to reach your Contact Centre, this will be connected to one of your contact flows to give customers the experience you have built for them
  6. Create routing profiles: Every routing profile needs to contain a number of queues that match agents’ specific skills sets. Agents are then assigned to the routing profile that best matches their skill set. For example, an agent assigned to a routing profile that contains service and sales queues will be able to take both types of calls, whereas another agent might be assigned to a Routing Profile that contains only the HR queue.
  7. Create agent hierarchy: Agents can be allocated to a hierarchy to allow them to be grouped however you would like. Normally this is by department then team.
  8. Configure users: The final step involves setting up every contact centre user and defining what types of calls they will be taking.

1. Build your Contact Centre Infrastructure

Go to Amazon Connect or search for “Amazon Connect” using the AWS Console and select Get Started, this will prompt you for:

  • Step 1: Identity management – For this contact centre we will store users within Amazon Connect. Enter a name that users will use to connect to the contact centre. This URL will be used for your agents to connect to the contact centre.
  • Step 2: Administrator – Enter the details of the person who will be the contact centre administrator.
  • Step 3: Telephony options – Choose whether the contact centre will support both inbound and outbound calls (note that the default setting is for both to be enabled).
  • Step 4: Data storage – This creates data storage for call recordings and logs (if enabled) using Amazon’s S3 service.
  • Step 5: Review and create – Check all the settings you have configured so far and ensure they are correct, then create an instance.

2. Opening Hours: Routing > Hours of Operation

Here you can see the current hours of operation for your phone numbers. ‘Add new hours’ will allow you to create a new set of opening hours, which will be used by the phone numbers to determine whether the contact centre is open or closed. Below is an example of opening hours set for Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

3. Create Queue: Routing > Queues

Queues allow for a call to be queued to an agent with the correct skill set. For example, sales calls could have their own discrete queue because they require the agent to have undertaken a certain amount of sales call handling training. Here we are going to create two queues, one for sales and another for service.

  • Name – Name of the queue. It’s a good idea to implement a naming convention which allows you to easily see what this queue relates to e.g. ProductName_SALES and ProductName_SERVICE.
  • Description – Meaning a full description of the queue.
  • Hours of Operation – Select the opening hours you created.
  • Outbound Section – We can ignore this section for now since our goal here is only to facilitate inbound calls.
  • Maximum contacts in queue – You may set the maximum number of calls in a queue here, for example if this value is set to 10, the 11th call will take the error route in the call flow.
  • Quick Connects – This will allow you to provide the agent taking each type of call with a list of relevant quick/speed dials, e.g. sales agents may be given speed dial numbers for insurance, while service agents may have the numbers for second-line support. For now, we can leave this blank and revisit later.

4. Create Contact Flows: Routing > Contact Flows

Amazon Connect provides some great samples of how you can utilise some of its features, including Call Back, Secure Input and Screenpop, but for now we will create a brand new contact flow so you can experience putting it together yourself and understand what each object is doing as we go along. The contact flows are visual, easy-to-follow diagrams that use drag and drop to pickup available features from the left-hand menu. They can then be connected to each other by clicking and holding on one exit option on the right of the feature to connect to another feature’s IN connection on the left.

Step 1: Name your contact flow: Again, we recommend using a naming convention to keep the resources together. In this example, we’ll use “ProductName_Master”.

Step 2: We want to welcome the caller as they connect to our contact flow, add the Interact > Play Prompt feature to the flow and connect the Entry Point: Start to Play Prompt. Then select the Play Prompt feature on the flow which will then present you with options for this feature. We want to use Text to Speech (ad hoc) so we will need to enter the text we wish the caller to hear, e.g. Welcome to “product/company name”.

Step 3: From here we want to ask the caller if their call relates to sales or service, using the Interact > Get customer input feature:

  • Text to Speech – we are saying “For Sales press 1, for Service Press 2”
  • DTMF option is selected (this is the tone you hear when pressing numbers on your phone)
  • Add another condition for each option, 1 & 2
  • This should provide a feature with branches:
          - Pressed 1 - The caller pressed 1 on their telephone’s keypad

          - Pressed 2 - The caller pressed 2 on their telephone’s keypad

          - Error - There was an error playing the message to the caller

          - Default - The caller pressed a button on their telephones keypad which was not configured in this feature (e.g. 3-9, 0, *, #)

          - Timeout - The caller didn’t press a button within the timeout time set in the feature.

Step 4: Pressed 1 & Pressed 2 should then connect to the Set > Set working queue feature relative to the button pressed. 1 sets the queue to Sales and 2 sets the queue to Service. Default and Timeout should connect to a new play prompt advising there was a problem, and then automatically reconnect to get customer input so the caller can try again; Error should connect to play prompt advising that there was an error, then connect to Terminate / Transfer > Disconnect / hang up to avoid the prospect of creating an infinite loop.

Step 5: Both set working queue success branches then connect to Branch > Check hours of operation to see if that queue is within operational hours. Out of Hours connects to a play prompt advising the line is closed then disconnects; Error connects to a play prompt advising there was an error then disconnects.

Step 6: Now we can send the call into the queue! Add a Terminate / Transfer > Transfer to Queue feature and connect from the in-hours branch. This will use the default customer queue flow provided by Connect and put the call into the queue for agents (assuming the queue isn’t at capacity, which is set in the Queue resource). The at capacity and error branches should be connected to the relevant play prompts, which disconnect the call.

Step 7: Select Save & Publish from the drop-down box at the top right, this will validate the flow and publish it. If there are any errors in the flow these will be highlighted for you to resolve.

Your final contact flow may look something like this:

5. Claim a Phone Number: Routing Phone Number

To connect this contact flow to the outside world we need to claim a phone number. Here we are given two options: toll-free (which is free for your callers to use but costs you more than DID (Direct Inward Dialing), or a normal local rate. Once you have selected your number give it a description and select the contact flow / IVR you have just created. You can now call into your own newly created contact centre and experience the contact flow you have just created.


6. Create Routing Profile: Users > Routing Profiles

Here we are going to create the profiles of our agents’ queue abilities. We have three types of agents: sales, service, and sales & service. For the three routing profiles we will again follow a standard naming convention. Under the routing profiles queues we will add the queues needed for this profile (for now we’ll ignore the priority and delay features as these are used for advanced routing, which allow calls to be delivered to certain agents first before others). Select BasicQueue for outbound calls.

7. Create Agent Hierarchy: Users > Agent Hierarchy

This lets you create a hierarchy of agents. For now, though, we will set it for one level since it’s only a small team. This feature comes into its own when organising larger teams as the contact centre expands.

8. Configure Users: Users > User management

Finally, we are going to create users who can answer these calls. For each new user create and complete:

  1. User Information – Complete this section with the user’s information
  2. Routing Profile – Select one of the three routing profiles we have just created and assign to the user
  3. Security Profile – This is the permissions this user will have, select Agent
  4. Phone Type – Soft Phone uses a web-based phone within the browser, while a desk phone will dial out to the given number in order to connect the call. Auto Accept will connect the call to the agent as soon as it arrives – if this is unchecked the phone will ring until the agent selects “answer”
  5. Confirm and create users.

We can now test the contact centre we have created by going to the instance line you made in step 1 e.g. and use the login details created in step 8. Stay offline and call in, after selecting option 1 or 2 you should be placed into a queue until you select Set to Available in the agent’s softphone.

What’s Next?

  • Accommodate complex opening hours (e.g. bank holidays)
  • Enable logging and call recording
  • Understand flow logic and queues
  • Create a simple interactive IVR using voice recognition.
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