Dextr adds Global Quick Connects for Amazon Call Centers!


Dextr Quick Connects

Dextr has always had a “directory” service that enabled agents to transfer callers in and out of the Amazon Connect instance, typically to the company PBX. Dextr now makes it possible to add contacts to the Directory system that can be shared with the entire call center as a “quick connect”! Just add the contact to the Directory system and it is shared with all other agents and is automatically added to Amazon Connect as a quick connect.   Anyone that has deployed Amazon Connect knows that you have to assign quick connects for each queue.   Dextr eliminates this painful step and there is no need to log into Amazon Connect, you can create the contact right in your Dextr Agent dashboard, mark it Global and it is shared with all the Agents in the Call Center!


Dial, Transfer or Conference

All Contacts in your Directory now show up as Quick Connects when you go to transfer an active phone call.   Contacts marked as GLOBAL, are shared through the Directory system of all other agents in your Amazon Connect instance and are added to the Quick Connect list.   Contacts in your Directory can be used to call, transfer or initiate a conference call!


In addition to the “disposition codes” that can easily be configured in an Dextr Agent dashboard, each incoming call brings up a Note Pad.   The Note Pad shows all previous notes added by all agents in the call center to that caller ID.   These notes are searchable and can also be integrated to pass content to your favorite CRM.



Amazon Connect Deep Call Back Option! – a lesson in Contact Attributes

The Call Back Dilemma !

It is now common place to hear an option while you are on hold in a call center that suggests “If you would like to arrange a call back when an agent is available, press 1 or continue to hold for the next available agent”.    The caller can then enter a phone number, hand up and when an agent becomes available, the system first connects the agent and the places and outbound call to the phone number that requested the call back.  This all works well except when the number entered is the main switch board number at the company that the caller works in.  The receptionist answers the inbound call and says “how can I route your call” and the agent has no clue who in the company requested the call back.

Here is one Solution!

During the call back process, in our contact flows, we ask the caller to enter the number they want us to call them back at.   We read back the number to them and offer them an opportunity to re-enter the phone number if it was incorrectly entered.  We then follow with a prompt that says “if the number you entered was the main number of the company you work for, please enter the phone number of the extension we should ask for when we return your call.  if there is no extension number please press #”.   We store the extension number as a contact attribute which is saved with the contract trace record.  You can even select contact search in the real time metrics of your Amazon Connect dashboard and verify that this attribute is in fact saved with the the contact ID record.

Default Outbound Contact Flow

There is a default outbound contact flow in all Amazon Connect instances and you can modify and “save as”  or use it as you desire.  The trick is to create an outbound prompt that plays  a prompt that says “This is a return call from DrVoIP office as requested by someone in your company.  That person is located at <extensionNumber> so please transfer this call to that extension as an agent will now join the conference”.  In this way the receptionist is alerted to how the call should be routed and we have no accomplished what we call “deep call back”.



In this example we check the contact attributes to see if <extension number> starts with # which would indicate there is no extension number. For this reason we want to play a different prompt “this is the call back you request from DrVoIP technical support”.

Options to Improve the experience for the Agent

There is a default Agent Whisper Contact flow that is regularly used in an Amazon Connect call center to let the agent know what Queue Name the caller hit!  Agents who are part of multiple queues find this very helpful.  This contact flow can be modified to play the contact attribute <extension number> when an outbound call is connected.    Optionally, you can present the <extension number> in the agent desktop as a text field.


The configuration of contact attributes in the  Amazon Connect solution is a very powerful tool and can be used to solve a lot of customized challenges!  Give us a call if we can help you set this up! –







Enhance your ShoreTel ECC with Speech Recognition & Chat Bots!

Press 1 for English!

Two characteristics of telecom technology in the 21st century continue to not make sense to us.  Why are we still using fax?  How come we still “Press 1 for this and Press 2 for that”?   I mean really, it is the 21st century after all.   Let’s put fax aside for the moment and focus on the continued use of DTMF key presses in interactive voice response solutions like automated attendants and embedded applications, like bank account balance enquiries.   You would think in this age of AI and Chatbots, you would no longer need to “Press 1 for English”.   The application should be “smart” enough to to know what language you speaking!


ShoreTel ECC

The Shoretel ECC was originally designed and built by a team of engineers led by Avi Silber, former VP of Engineering for Tadiran, who left to form Easy Run a new brand of call center.   Easy Run would ultimately enter into OEM deals with 3COM (remember the NBX?) and later ShoreTel.  We had been working with the ShoreTel ECC since the Easy Run days and considered it one of the best small to medium call center solutions in the market.  We still love it, but it has not had a major feature enhancement in years!  In a call center world dominated by omni-channel solutions, this lack of new functionality, in our humble opinion, seems to be the end of the road for this product.  (As an aside, Avi is now back at Tadiran and the company has acquired the Easy Run code).


For most of the last decade a primary revenue source for DrVoIP was the ongoing support of ShoreTel ECC contact centers.   We think we have installed and maintain more ECC call centers than any other vendor on the planet.  Clients would regularly make requests to enhance ECC.  A common request for example, was to enable SMS or TEXT messages to be routed to the next available agent.  We would code the solution and satisfy that client only to repeat that exercise the next time someone asked for that solution.   For this reason, we determined to productize the solution and created Click2WebChat which brought Text, Video, Chat and Web sharing into the ShoreTel ECC arena.

ShoreTel Speech Recognition IVR?

There is no reason for ShoreTel ECC to be without speech recognition, natural language processing or chat bot technology.  We now regularly front end ShoreTel ECC with AI bots that eliminate the need to “Press 1 for anything”.    You can place a call into a ShoreTel ECC and have a much richer customer experience by offering a natural language interface.   Imagine calling an ECC and having it answer “welcome to the customer support line, how can I route our call”.   Speech Recognition is clearly a more effective solution that rattling off a long list of possible options that the caller can self navigate with a good memory for lists and a touch tone dial pad.  We have been designing and building AI bots that work with ShoreTel ECC and make life a lot easier for both ends of the call center phone conversation.  It is good for the customer and good for the Agent, shaving valuable minutes off each phone call to your ECC.

ShoreTel Chat Bots?

If you look at the content of phone calls to your contact center, you will notice that some large percentage of your customer requests are for the same reasons.   Most call centers have already learned to create a Frequently Asked Questions (i.e. FAQ) database for use by the agents.   The agents do not have to be subject matter experts to answer questions, they just need access to the FAQ database.   Now, what would happen if that database was at the end of a Natural Language processing speech recognition bot that could handle that entire customer interaction without requiring a agent at all?   It is not going to eliminate agents, but it will shift the work load such that agents are used to handle the percentage of your customer requests that are outside the FAQ database.   This is where Chat Bots come in and do an excellent job 24X7, without vacations, holidays, sick days or breaks!

Long ago, we had a company Cobotyx that made “robot receptionists” or COBOTS.  We learned that saying you were replacing low pay receptionists with a low cost machine, was not very smart.   We borrowed an expression from the cybernetics thinker Dr. Norbert Wiener in his 1950 publication “The Human Use of Human Beings” and learned that we are not here to replace humans; we are here to free humans to do the things that only humans can do.

So, if you are considering updating your ShoreTel ECC to add any of this functionality, give us a call and learn just how easy and cost effective this technology can actually be.  –









Understanding Amazon Connect Call Center Pricing!

Amazon Connect Basic Pricing Model

Even the most hostile competitor will grant that Amazon has changed the pricing game in call center technology.   “No license fees” and “pay only for what you use” are compelling strategies that would stop a man on a galloping horse!   Amazon typically summarizes the cost of its Connect call center as consisting of three components; the service usage charge, the cost of a ten digit voice number and the cost per minute of using that voice number.

Pricing Examples

An end-customer calls using an Amazon Connect US toll-free number in the US East (N. Virginia) region, answered by an agent on the Amazon Connect softphone. The call lasts 7 minutes.  There are 3 separate charges that apply for this call:

1. There is an Amazon Connect service usage charge, based on end-customer call duration. At $0.018 per minute * 7 minutes = $0.126

2. There is the day charge for use of the US toll-free number. At $0.06 per day * 1 day = $0.06

3. And there is an inbound call per minute charge for US toll-free numbers. At $0.012 per minute * 7 minutes = $0.084

So the total for this call is $0.27 (plus applicable taxes, fees, and surcharges).

This cost analysis is accurate but assumes that your call center is an isolated model with not integration with any other AWS Service.   Optional services, used to enhance your Call Center functionality and improve the customers experience have additional charges that are not reflected in the basic price example above.   To get a more accurate picture of the true cost of a call center we need to make some assumptions as to how an average call center is configured, noting the various service that may be required to implement the requirements of that call center.   Then we can look at the additional service costs and improve our understanding of the true cost of an Amazon Connect Call Center.

Real World Call Center Requirements

Let’s take a look at several very basic, yet very real world call center requirements and then evaluate the cost of the additional services.

  • Custom Call Routing

    • Most if not all call centers have some kind of call routing algorithm that usually require and external computational resource in the form of a database and the code or application that evaluates the database information.   For example, assume that we want to route calls based on the callers possible location using the Area Code displayed in the incoming caller ID.   Additionally, let’s assume that we want to evaluate the callers relationship with our company be determining if they are a new customer or an existing customer.  In both cases we would be looking up the callers incoming phone number in an external database to resolve either or both of these questions.  We would route the caller to the Agents that handle New  York, or route the caller to Agents that handle new customer or existing customers.   There would be any number of technical solutions for implementing this caller lookup, but for purposes of discussion, let’s just assume we will not spin up a Windows SQL Server in an EC2 instance, but use AWS Serverless solutions that include a DynamoDB table and some Lambda functions to operate on that data!
  • Holiday and “Ad Hoc” Closings

    • Call Centers operate on dynamic schedules that very often impact the handling of inbound calls.   Are we open or closed sounds like a simple decision, but it does require some additional “belts and suspenders” to get an answer to that question.   If we close on Holidays, we will need to reference list of days we are closed (read: database).   Some call centers enable supervisors to temporarily close a customer service queue for a team meeting.  Depending on the sophistication of this feature the supervisor might also create a custom prompt to be played to the caller during the team meeting.
  • Real Time Queue Metric Displays

    • Again, call centers typically display the status information of the various customer service queues that comprise the call center.   We want to know how many folks are waiting in each queue, how long they have been waiting and highlight the caller that has been waiting the longest.  When we answer a call we update that data set and when we terminate that call we update that dataset again.    Agents often want to see the status of their supervisor and team mates.  Are they “talking”, “idle” or in some “release” state?   AWS Connect has a library of API’s to help with the analysis of this information but it will require additional services to make use of that information in a way that has a positive impact on the call center stake holders.  (Read: Kinesis streams, DynamboDB and Lambda functions).
    • Perhaps you will want to run these recordings through transcription and translation services.  AWS has some exciting NLP and AI options that will impact that call center in astonishing ways.  Imagine English Call Center Agents being able to interact with Spanish, French or Chinese speakers!  Transcribing speech in realtime and popping agent prompts or recommended responses based on sentiment or key words used by the caller are all viable options within the AWS service stack available to an AWS Connect Call Center.
  • Logging & Recordings

    • Call Centers typically record phone calls for a variety of compliance and service improvement. Those recordings need to be stored somewhere along with your real time contact record trace logs (Read: S3 bucket).
  • Voice Analytics 
    • AWS has a service LENS which provides transcriptions of voice recordings and applies sentiment analysis on that recording.  Usually a third party provider in other solutions but now included in Amazon Connect with an additional charge.
  • Single Sign-on Options for Agent Login/Out

    • Cognito, SSO with SAML or other authorization options.
  • Custom Agent Dashboard and Real Time Display

    • Most folks will find the CCP or softphone that comes standard with your AWS Connect instance to be very useful for basic answer, transfer, hold and consult operations.  Getting additional information displayed to the agents however may require additional desktop display options.   For example, how do you retrieve and playback those phone call recordings?   Do Agents need to add a “disposition code” at the end of a phone call?   How is the queue and agent team status information displayed to the agents?  Do Agents work with channels other than voice?  Do they handle Text messages?   Chat sessions?  Social Media messaging?     This options will require an Agent interface that can display this information and enable the agent to interact with these other channels.

Real World Call Center Example

Granted the above requirements are very basic, but they are representative of the type of services that a call center would expect to be available and they also have additional service charges not covered in the basic AWS Connect Pricing Example we listed above.   Let’s take a real world call center example and then apply the additional charges that would be incurred if we were to implement the above requirements.    In this example we are drawing from an actual day in the life of an actual call center that is considering migrating to AWS Connect.

Daily 70 Agent Call Center Utilization:

  • Inbound Phone Calls for the day: 4959
  • Average Call Handling Time: 7 minutes per call
  • Total Minutes of use: 34714 minutes or 578.5 Hours
  • Base AWS Cost $624 (assume telephone carrier costs the same across all competing options and are not included)
  • Base Annualized assuming 261 working days = 9M Minutes or $163,086.00 per year in AWS Connect Usage Charges

Additional Service Costs

The most costly services in this very simple example would be DynamoDB and Lambda.    DynamoDB pricing has several components; the size of the Table for data storage (.25GB), DynamoDB Streams, Read ($0.09 per RCU-month),  Write Requests ($0.47 per WCU-month).   The pricing for Lambda is far from simple: A free tier followed by $0.20 per million requests plus $0.00001667 per GB-second of ‘compute time’ used per month plus the cost of the API Gateway or streams.Each incoming phone call will result in:

  • Lambda Call to DynamoDB Table for Routing Information
  • Lambda Call to DynamoDB Table to determine Possible closing
  • Lambda Call to DynamoDB Table to add caller to Queue count and update display
  • Lambda Call to DynamoDB Table to remove Caller from Queue and display when call answered
  • s3 Storage increase of 7 Minute recording Object (.023 per GB)
  • s3 Storage increase for Logs and Contact Trace Records (.023 per GB)
  • Agent Login/Out Call to Cognito or SSO SAML provider (.15 per 10000 sync operations)
  • Summary –
    • >19K Lambda Calls per day, 5M  per year
    • >19K DynamoDB Read Requests
    • >19 DynamoDB Write Requests

Other important service considerations

Advanced functionality like Natural Language Processing, Speech Recognition, Transcription, Translation, Voice Analytics, Workforce management, Polly and LEX are some of the other services that you will undoubtedly make use of in your call center design.  These will all be billed as AWS line items outside of the Connect usage charges.    The above Basic functionality Example is probably adding an additional $25 a day or $6K a year to the cost of an Amazon Connect Call Center based on the above call center stats!

Clearly, unless you have a team of software engineers on your staff that understand these AWS service in addition to their coding skills, you are going to need design and implementation expertise.

Again, though pricing can get complex and often has many components that are not easy to identify like data transfer, encryption and acceleration it is all more than manageable and very cost effective.   In fact all of the above functionality could be included in the use of a custom dashboard from Dextr.Cloud which would give the Agents and Supervisors all the real time status information they require, enable agent to agent chat, email, text, supervisor alerts, monitoring and coaching and a growing list of new features as the product development map unfolds!  This functionality could be fixed for a modest charge of $69 a month per simultaneous agent access.   Small price to pay for that list of feature, would you agree?




We see five areas for understanding Amazon Connect:

(1) Carrier cost = DNIS/800 as published generally .03 center per day for a DID number and .06 cents per day for a toll free number/

(2) usage cost for using the carrier per published price generally .0022 for DID and .012 for toll free

(NOTE – the above charges would be required of any solution you are considering, generally AWS will be less costly however)

(3) .018 connect minute service amazon connect  you are billed from the time call comes in to your call center until it terminates.  It does not matter how many agent you have as you do not pay for agent licenses as is the case with the usual cloud call center providers.

(4) other AWS services like chat (.004),  LEX (4000 speech requests estimate .004 per request or $16 ; lambda ( 1 Million request free per month then .00000002083 per request) /dynamoDB  (  and other service they may use like S3 for storage etc. (5) dextr (.003 per logged in minute)(edited)

We have an AWS Pricing Calculator that can help you with these more advanced calculations, just give us at call at 800-946-6127 and we will make it available to you.   We can provide you with seats in our demo call center if you would like to try both Dextr and AWS or we can build you a proof of concept call center in your AWS account for a modest fee.



Dextr a Customized Agent Dashboard for #Amazon Connect Call Center!

AWS Connect CCP

Building out call centers on AWS, you learn a lot about opportunities for productivity enhancements!   One of the first issues that we noted was that the standard Contact Control Panel or CCP, which is basically a WebRTC soft phone client, though very useful has many opportunities for improving the Agent experience.   The list of request features is growing and as a result, we have taken on the development of  a customizable AWS Connect Agent Dashboard!


Call DrVoIP for AWS Call Center migration assistance.

If your only introduction to AWS is Connect, their cloud based call center product, you have successfully created your first call center instance and you are now taking inbound phone calls!   It was remarkably easy and with no real ‘geek” training, most call center professionals were able to log in, setup an instance, organize a call flows, create agents and voice prompts, obtain a phone number an in a few hours, you were taking phone calls!  Wow!

AWS Demo API’s

Did you know that the Agent CCP is completely customizable?  AWS provides a number of API’s and Connect Streams that a software engineer can access toward the goal of building an Agent Dashboard with a set of features and tools that are unique to your call center environment.  There is even a site you can log into and test some of the available API’s.   If you go to and click on the “demo sites” you can see some examples of customized CCP, Click to Call, Screen Pops and other tasty code bits.

Agent Streams

We note that there are many “connect streams” that a developer can tap to create their own version of CCP.   The supervisor side, however is not as fully formed and there are not as many streams and API’s available to support Supervisor requirements like real time queue and agent metrics.   In fact we had to develop our own socket layer communication strategy to implement the features we envisioned in our dashboard.

Recently we have discovered new and not readily available API for other AWS streams.  Some are only available depending on your support contract status.

Agent Dashboard Feature Set

The list of functions and features that we have added to our CCP is still growing but we set a goal of making the dashboard painless!   For example there is nothing to install.  Our application needs to be added by your instance administrator as an application end point in the Connect dashboard.  Once that is complete, the user just points at our portal and enters their instance name (you can even upload your own logo).   The traditional AWS Connect CCP shows up and you login as normal.   Once your credentials are established, you are then presented with the revised Agent Dashboard as shown below.

AWS Connect Dextr Agent Dashboard feature set

Most folks have asked for a “team status” display.  As an Agent I want to see the status of the other agents on my team.  So the first attribute we added was just that, a team status display.    Each agent has their own Activity List showing all of their calls both inbound and outbound.   Next to each call is a link to hear the recording of that call. Supervisors can select all calls, but agents only see their own call recordings.

Each Agent has a personal contact list with contacts that they have entered for their own use.  This augments the “quick connects” that they system administrator had created.  Here is the feature list:

  • Nothing to install! Instant Access via which has video instructions for on-boarding;
  • Customizable Logo and YourCompany custom log-in URL;
  • Role based Login (supervisor, agent, administrator)
  • SAML support;
  • Agent Team Status Display;
  • Agent to Agent Chat
  • Agent Call Activity with (click to return call);
  • Directory System with Click to call;
  • Help Button – Alert Supervisor;
  • Queue Monitor – including calls in queue, max waiting time; optional red, yellow tags)
  • Personal Recording; (permission option);
  • Supervisor Permissions add: Login/Logout (change agent state) Monitor, coach and Barge in;
  • All Recording search and play (see note 1 below);
  • Real Time Metric review Report Generation
  • Ability to set Holiday Schedules and “ad hoc” closings with new close prompt (think team meeting).
  • Push Announcement String out to Agent Dashboard for alerts and other notices.
  • Omni-Channel SMS/MMS enables test and pics to the next available agent
  • Omni-Channel email routing to the next available agent
  • “no headset” audible alert options for softphone

We are also planning to integrate or Click2WebChat functionality as an advanced feature option.  This would bring website co-browsing, video chat, SMS and keyboard chat into the call center!  The Dextr screen shows the Agent interface including the Video and Chat links.

How do you set a Holiday Schedule in Amazon Connect?

Dextr enables a user with Admin privileges to open a window and create both HOLIDAYS AND AD HOC closings.   The instance is initially stocked with all US Federal holidays already listed.  The Admin can modify, add or delete these dates.  They can also specify, via the drop down window, which queues they are closing.  There is also a Text to Speech window in which the supervisor can enter the text of a prompt that will be played to a caller should they call during that time slot.

We named the dashboard Dextr!  There is nothing to install.  Follow the video instruction below and have your Amazon Connect Administrator add us as a trusted application, then head over to our portal, log in and put Dextr to work for your team!

If you have a requirement for the CCP we would also like to know more about your requirements, so let us know.   If  you do not have an AWS Connect instance, DrVoIP will build you a “proof of concept” portal for no charge!  Remember, the American Business Communications landscape will be littered with the bleaching bones of those companies that do not adopt Amazon Connect as the enterprise call center that manages customer engagements!













Front End your Call Center with Twilio Appointment Reminder!

Send a Text or add more Telephone lines?

We have long been a proponent of using more text solutions in the call center.  From our perspective it makes more sense to let clients text you customer service team than it does to add more telephone lines, to hold more clients in queue waiting for the next available agent!   With the dramatic growth of smart phones, it makes sense to engage your clients with an understanding that they are (a) very mobile; and (b) very text savvy!   We are willing to bet, you text message more than you actually talk on your smart phone!

Call Trees

Anyone who has had to write routing scripts to figure out which group of agents to send an inbound caller to, will tell you that having a DNIS number per route is the best way to go.  Why prompt the user to press 1 for Spanish, if you could just market a number that expects Spanish callers!   A separate number for Customer Service and Tech support also saves having to have the caller self navigate through an elaborate call tree just to end up waiting in queue.   Generally, the call center will end up publishing a single inbound phone number and then prompt the caller with “Press 1 for Customer Service, Press 2 for Technical Support” as adding and managing DNIS numbers gets to be a costly head ache!

Estimated Wait Time

So we keep adding more inbound telephone lines, to the same number of Agents, causing more folks to remain in queue waiting for the “next available agent” and growing more frustrated with each passing minute!   Most call centers now attempt to reduce frustration by “Press 1 to receive a call back without losing your place in queue”.     This is a helpful option in reducing customer frustration, but does nothing to reducing costs.  Actually it increases costs as you are now calling folks back on your dime!

Reduce call center cost and improve customer satisfaction by letting callers contact by text message!

Enabling your clients to TEXT a “keyword” inbound could accomplish the same result as having them self navigate through a call tree.  In fact, you could get the call routed and also provide a call back based on the estimated wait time!   Inbound text messages also facilitate more accurate data dips as the caller ID can be used to index a database to bring back relevant  customer information.   For example, if the customer were to  text the keyword “appointment” you might be able to return the following text message”

” Mr. Merkin,  we see that you have an appointment scheduled with our hygienist for Tuesday at 10AM.  Are you calling to confirm or reschedule this appointment?  Please REPLY with CONFIRM, CHANGE or CALL ME”.

Logic can be applied to the inbound text and if the REPLY returns “Call me”  the following text might be sent back by the call center:

“Please standby and we will get you connected with a scheduling assistant”  or “We estimated that we can call you in 5 minutes”

The dialog can become very customized based on the call centers CRM integration, but simplification of the inbound request and customer  contact can be significantly enhanced using TEXT.  Appointment reminders are an excellent application for text based call center integrations.    You can create a Proactive or Reactive model to remind folks of a scheduled appointment.   A Proactive model would process a list of appointments, sending a reminder text to each client and asking them to REPLY with CONFIRM, or RESCHEDULE.   A reschedule would set up a call back from the call center.   The Reactive model would function similarly but would be triggered by an incoming text request from the client.

TWILIO to the rescue!

In the following video tutorial we build out a generic TEXT and voice  based “automated attendant” that can be used to front end you customer service organization, sales team or technical support group.   We use Twilio to create a cloud based front end with the ability to transfer the call to a specific number or agent group in a call center.    Normally we would write our text applications in Twilio using Nodejs and Twilio’s Twiml but Studio, as a graphical scripting tool,  is a very useful rapid deployment strategy.

In this tutorial, though we are focused on TEXT we will also setup a solution that can answer VOICE calls or TEXT messages.  We will use speech recognition in addition to the normal “Press” instructions to get calls routed to the proper recipient.   Once the call flow is designed, we will add a number and test out our solution!     Twilio is a powerful tool and we have been able to script out customized text, voice and video solutions in days or hours rather than weeks and months!   Generally we also make liberal use of AWS for API Gateway access to AWS MySQL or DynamboDB database information using AWS Lambda functions.

The DrVoIP demo Challange!

We can build out a prototype AWS Connect Call Center with a Twilio Text front end for your company in less than a day!  So just ask us by sending a message to our Text Based Auto Attendant at 929-292-8100 and we will get you setup in no time!















Estimated Wait Time


Why your call center needs “TEXT” solutions!

21st Century Call Centers still operate with 1980 business models!

I have been working with inbound call center for some 40+ years and despite all the”omni” channel technology the inbound call center model has not changed very much.   Those of us who have call centers that support a for profit business are focused on improving the customer or patient experience.   We all want lower caller holding times, faster response times and lower costs.   I have never heard anyone say, lets add more agents!   The usual answer is lets add more telephone lines!   This strikes me as more than ridiculous!   Basically, increasing the size of the catchers mitt by adding more telephone lines,  enables the call center to increase the number of people on hold awaiting service by the same number of agents.  Now how can that make sense?   If you think about it, the only reason you have more inbound telephone lines than you have agents, is so folks do not get a busy signal.  Over the years call centers have learned that it is better to capture the call and then hold the caller than it is to generate a busy signal.

One of the major differences between a call center in the 21st century and earlier call centers, is the availability of “smart phones”!   As it relates to the American Business Landscape you are on safe ground if you just assume that every man, woman and child in America has a smart phone.   In fact, it is safe to assume that smart phones have long ago out paced wireline connections.   So why not use this resource to change the call center model?   Why have more incoming telephone lines than your call center has trained agents or customer service representatives?  Additionally, nobody is sitting at home or the office holding a phone handset while waiting for the “next available agent”.  They are driving the kids to school, or running around the market place in an ever increasingly more mobile environment.

“Now that cell phones are owned by 90% of American adults, many are ditching their landlines and going completely wireless in their households. The CDC recently reported that 39.4% of homes in the U.S. indicated having no landline phone and at least one wireless device. This trend is now being adopted by more and more households as many find it unnecessary to have both a landline and one or more mobile devices” – Green Mountain Communications 

Enable two way TEXT in your call center!

TEXT notifications are ubiquitous—from doctor appointment reminders to credit card fraud notifications, they are commonly used to send messages, alerts, and reminders. All too often, however, the message only goes one-way and the customer cannot reply with a question or text back anything other than a confirmation code or a request to stop receiving such messages. Or, the customer is provided a phone number to dial for further assistance.  Enabling two way TEXT applications in your Call Center could be a disruptive game changer!

Imagine a call center in which folks just send a ‘text’ to the call center.   The call center could respond with a useful message that estimates the wait time for a return call if an agent can not immediately call you back.  A very simple change in strategy, but the improvement in customer service and reduced operating expense should be obvious:

  • Customer Sends TEXT – “Please call me”
  • Call Center  returns either a voice call from an available agent or;
  • Call Center returns a TEXT message “We will return a call to you at this number in 5 minutes.   Is that a good time to speak with you”
  • No more IVR “call trees” or extended hold times.  The customer knows exactly what to expect and when to expect it!  Options to call another number of call at another time can be easily worked into the TEXT conversation.   NO need to have more than one telephone line per agent!

The Deep Data Integration options are enormous:

  • Customer Sends TEXT – “Please call me”
  • Call Center returns a TEXT message “Hi Peter, we see you have an appointment on the calendar for Monday, is this what you are calling about”?
  • Customer Sends TEXT – “I need to change my appointment”

The fact of the matter is it may not be necessary to speak with an Agent at all!    The application of Artificial Intelligence and “bot” technology to TEXT based information is significantly more achievable than that required of speech recognition.  It is also much less costly to implement!

No more Abandoned Calls!

A TEXT based Call Centers would drop the abandoned call statistics to zero!  Given that all calls are now scheduled and there is no caller waiting in queue on an incoming telephone line that your call center pays for, there are no abandoned calls!  This would decrease holding times and increase service levels across the board.   It is also self documenting, secure

4 Reasons Your Call Center Needs SMS

Many of the benefits SMS affords companies are specific, but there are also some big picture advantages worth exploring. Here are the top reasons why your call center needs SMS.

  1. Customers Want SMS

SMS is the new email. Customers are comfortable with texting and prefer SMS for the flexibility and convenience. While it was easy to ignore in the past (when only a small fraction of consumers used text messaging), you can no longer ignore SMS without some negative consequences.  According to industry research, call center wait times are one of the biggest turnoffs for customers. The vast majority of customers – 95 percent to be exact – feel like five minutes is the longest you should ever have to wait to speak with someone. Unfortunately, the majority of businesses force customers to wait much longer than this. Enabling SMS not only relieves call center congestion, but it also gives customers the option to ask for a callback, as opposed to waiting on the line.

  1. Self-Service Options

As you know, many of the calls your customer service department fields are simple. However, they still tie up your time, energy, and resources. What if you could automate these simple, yet time-consuming calls and free up your resources for the bigger picture issues? Well, you can.  Ultimately these self-service options benefit businesses in multiple ways. To quote our article, “consumers will often take the path of least resistance, so offering a text in service will save them having to call in, while avoiding having complaints aired in public on social media.” In the end, this leads to more satisfied customers, better brand image, and fewer wasted call center resources.

  1. Superior Service

The bottom line is that phone lines simply don’t cut it anymore. The modern consumer expects businesses to offer multiple channels of engagement and doesn’t want to be forced into placing a phone call. SMS is seen as much more convenient and service-oriented.  This is why text-enabled concierge services like GoButler have seen tremendous success. Customers feel like they’re getting more value from a company or service provider when the company is willing to communicate in comfortable and convenient ways.

Consider a cable and internet provider. Instead of needing to place a phone call and wait on hold for 10, 20, or 30 minutes, a customer could send a simple text message to the company that reads, “Hey, my internet is down. Can you help?” The provider can then respond with some simple questions about the situation and set up an appointment time without further disrupting the customer’s day.

  1. Customers Answer Texts

From the enterprise side of things, it’s sometimes necessary to contact customers. Well, the problem with contacting customers is that they’re often hard to get in touch with. Many users won’t answer numbers they don’t recognize and others rarely check their voicemails after missing a call.   SMS is an entirely different story. The Pew Research Center says 67 percent of cell phone users check their phone for messages even when they don’t notice it vibrating or ringing. Roughly 44 percent sleep with their phones next to their beds in case they receive a message or notification while sleeping.

Both of these statistics prove that customers are highly connected to mobile messaging. This rapid response makes SMS the quickest way to connect with customers, especially when the issue at hand is timely in nature.

Give TEXT a chance now!

The benefits of enabling TEXT in your call center will increase customer satisfaction, enhance the service experience and significantly increase productivity in your call center while reducing over all costs!   If you would like to experiment with TEXT in your call center, send the keyword DEMO to 424-348-4000 and we can get you setup in short order.   You might also check out for some additional thinking on this subject.

The Achilles Heel of all Cloud Based Call Centers!

The Cloud Call Center Problem Statement!

A very common call center requirement is the ability to route a call based on the DNIS number dialed.  This is simple enough when you have only a few DNIS numbers to manage, but consider this application:   Consider a central call center that provides centralized appointment scheduling for some 600+ medical offices.    The call center agents are required to answer an inbound call with a custom answer greeting that is based on the medical office that cares for that patient.   The solution in place today requires the cloud platform to have a unique DNIS for each of 600 medical offices.  When a medical office wants to take advantage of services offered by the call center, they call forward their phone to the unique DNIS number on the call center platform assigned to their medical office.   On an incoming ring,  the call center grabs the DNIS and uses that number to index a connected database to retrieve the  name of the medical office and then display it to the agents on call presentation so they can provide the custom answer prompt.

As you might imagine, maintaining and updating both the relative campaign and a database of DNIS numbers is not only a nuisance with many opportunities for an error, it is also not very scalable.  The simplest solution is the ability to normalize or change SIP Headers or obtain the RDNIS in a PRI connection.   Neither of these is an option in any of the many cloud based solutions we have worked with.

The CPE solution!

In a CPE based solution we can touch the boarder controller of the incoming SIP trunk and see the various headers.   In a PRI trunk you could also see not only the CID/ANI  but the DNIS and the RDNIS.   RDNIS is commonly used in a voice mail system for example, to know the correct mailbox to open so the caller does not hear a main greeting but a custom greeting for the mailbox owner.   In either the SIP or PRI environment, we would NOT need 600 DNIS numbers to solve this application.   We could see the RDNIS or the FROM SIP header and use that field to look up the correct answer prompt or medical office name in the database.  We did a complete tutorial on this SIP header manipulation to achieve this same solution though the application was a bit different.

One for all and all for one?

Another major shortfall with cloud based call centers is that you will find it very hard to make modifications that are unique to your call center.  Keep in mind that all the cloud based call centers, with the possible exception of AWS Connect, are solutions that encompass many different clients.   The cloud provider can not make a modification for your call center unless it is applicable to all their other clients.  Likewise, when they upgrade or add a new feature, you are getting the new feature and the upgrade regardless of your desire to participate!


The Cloud is an amazing resource but it is not a one size fits all.  You will need to understand your requirements and how they match to what is generally available from your provider.  You should also understand that you will be increasing your WAN connectivity requirements to include advanced options like Software Defined Networks and MPLS, BGP along with bandwidth increases and new firewall challenges that you would not have on a CPE deployment.   You will still have phone and video end points, power over ethernet switches, network access credentials, intrusion protection and all of the IT resources you would still have with the Call Center located on site.  There are many advantages to the cloud, but make sure you know what you are hitching enterprise with!





Building an AWS Call Center is the definition of a “Disruptive” technology”!

AWS Connect – A Game Changer!

It has been almost a year since we first took a look at the AWS Connect Call Center service and what a year it has been.   Since it’s pubic release, AWS is most likely the fastest growing Call Center solution in the global market.   The reasons for this are clear and unmistakeable.   We think AWS Connect is a game changer!   Our first experience with AWS Connect was the result of a contract to move a ShoreTel ECC to AWS.    ShoreTel had basically abandoned the ECC product with no new feature develops in several years and the product was stuck at Version 9.  Given the great unknown regarding the future of ShoreTel CPE solutions, this client made the decision to move to the cloud and we were choosen to make that move painless.

Why Move to AWS Connect?

AWS Connect is a cloud based solution that follows the AWS mantra of elastic, scalable, reliable and highly available!  There is nothing to install and nothing to license!  You pay only for ‘usage’ at a couple of pennies per minute!   One client was paying some $250K a year in cloud call center licenses before they even processed their first phone call!  On AWS Connect this same spend would yield over 900,000 7 minute phone calls!  Take that to your CFO and note the reaction!  At the AWS reInvent 2017 conference, Capital One the tenth largest American Bank announced that it had moved to AWS Connect and the list of companies grows by the hour!

The DrVoIP Challenge

AWS makes it easy to spin up a call center! In less than one hour, you can have a fully functional call center handling inbound phone calls to an agent population that can be geographically distributed anywhere on the planet that supports a quality internet connection.   More than likely, it will take you more time to upload or enter the names of your agents into the Connect dashboard then it will take to create the Connect instance and obtain a telephone number! In fact DrVoIP will build out a ten agent 3 queue inbound call center for you company to pilot in under one hour!   Just give us a shout and try us!

Customization and Functionality is limited only by imagination!

One of the challenges that the current crop of cloud based call center providers face is the need. to standardize their service offering.   If you are anyone on the Gartner Magic Quadrant, you are serving thousands of users.   You can NOT make a change to the platform as it impact every customer in that providers installed base!   If you want to add a new feature, you will have to follow that vendors “product road map”.

AWS Connect has full access to the complete range of AWS Services including Lambda functions, Speech Recognition, Text to Speech, Kinesis, Mobility,  Cloudwatch, DynamoDB and the full range of AWS Storage solutions including S3 and Glacia. (recording storage and historical reports)!   Though the base instance is easy to configure and comes fully functional with a “default” call flow, the range of potential application solutions is limited only by the talent of your implementation team and your companies vision of the perfect “customer experience”.

Artificial Intelligence?

Most of the population now carries around a personal communicator that has Siri or Alex or Google and folks have not only grown accustomed to these features, they now expect them!   Do you really expect to front end your call flow with a “touch tone” based “call tree” or IVR that expects them Press 1 for English?  Come on people!   It is the 21st century!   AWS makes Alexa like features available through a natural language chat bot named LEX.   Is it not about time your call center had a natural language interface to your customer service group?    Try asking your current provider to add that functionality and when you look at the licensing fee, if the feature is available at all, pick yourself off the floor and give us a call!

Text to Speech?

Historically, as call center scripting professionals,  we resist starting a project until all of the prompts required in the call flow have been scripted, recorded, converted to the proper wav format and made available to the implementation team.   We can’t tell you how many project hours have been burned because clients did not think out the IVR messages or record the automated attendant announcements!   AWS has a wonderful feature named Polly that can enable us to script, fill the prompts with “text” and not only have our choice of voice artist and accent, but our choice of spoken language immediately available.   We can prototype call flow announcements and make changes  on the fly without waiting for a recording to be scheduled!

Data Dips with Lambda and DynamoDB

We first got involved with AWS because as consultants, we get paid on project completion.   If we have a call flow that requires a database dip to pull back  a”custom answer prompt” and were told that we had to wait for IT to spin up a Windows Server, blah, blah, blah….we would just log into AWS and spin out our favorite LAMP server and finish the project while IT was still filling out purchase requisitions!   Now we don’t even spin up a sever!  AWS is at the forefront of “server less” technology and Lambda and DynamoDB make it possible for us to write the database functions and completely ignore what the server technology is, let alone what OS it is running on!  AWS even bundles about 1 million Lambda function calls as part of its free tier.

Limitations, ah “No”!

Every system has constraints.   We have only one constraint that we have found to date on AWS but it is the same Constraint we find in Cloud solutions like Five9 and even cloud solution provider Twilio.   We can not access the telephony side of the platform to manipulate SIP message headers of other Call Control signals.  Currently this is hidden from the AWS Connect instance.  We have however, never had this be a show stopper and have always found a way to implement a work around.    At the rate AWS cranks out new feature and services however, we fully expect to see a SIP interface that we as developers can access on the shortest product road map implementation schedule in the global market place!

We Build AWS Connect Call Centers!

DrVoIP can design, deploy, maintain and manage your call center at a cost that is arguably redefines “total cost of ownership.”   Give us a call or let us know what you are thinking and you will find us to be the most experienced group of “full stack” developers available to those seeking an AWS Connect deployment!