California’s most populous county is realizing a whopping 60 percent cost saving several months after it switched from traditional call center infrastructure to Amazon Connect’s cloud-based contact center solution.

On top of the cost savings, the county is improving the timeliness and quality of the call center services it provides to both employees and residents, while enjoying rich new steams of automated customer feedback that the Amazon Connect service makes possible.

That was the message from Benny Chacko, deputy general manager of information technology services for the County of Los Angeles, Calif., during a presentation at the AWS Public Sector Summit on June 11.

Chacko talked about the call center’s multifaceted mission, but also about enduring problems that were holding back its ability to improve service quality. On the mission front, the call center supports the county’s 10 million residents who can call to ask about county services, plus 112,000 county employees with internal work-related information.

Based on customer surveys, the call center’s biggest challenge was long wait times to reach an agent. For an operation that wants to be “customer obsessed,” the average hold time of six minutes per call – with some waits stretching to 54 minutes – was unacceptable, Chacko said.

The previous call-center infrastructure, he said, offered “very little automation,” made it difficult to gather customer feedback, and required extra work to accomplish seemingly simple tasks like posting automated messages to callers. Adding such a message, he said, required the attention of system engineers and “caused a huge challenge for us.”

“We evaluated a lot of vendors and solutions,” but went with Amazon Connect to capture a list of important benefits – including improved customer experience, better call agent productivity, the ability to promote telework, and the capacity to “spin up” remote call centers to handle emerging incidents – Chacko said.

Since going live with Amazon Connect in April, the county has realized all of those benefits and more.

In addition to the 60 percent cost savings – which Chacko said includes savings on infrastructure – the call center has seen a 17 percent reduction in call volume “because people are no longer waiting for an agent,” hanging up, and calling back. Because of in-call analytical features, “we are getting feedback on every call,” and improving customer engagement, he said.

“We were able to change how we look at call centers and communicate with customers,” he said. On the workforce side, Chacko said the new system has produced a positive “culture change” for agents, allowing them to focus on more complicated tasks and less routine work.

Jason Shaffer, a senior solutions architect with Amazon Web Services (AWS), said the contact center solution is designed to improve “first-call resolution on contact center calls,” which makes a better experience for both callers and call agents.

And Mike Vozas, public sector collaboration lead at AWS, pointed to one of the call center solution’s most important advantages – speed to deployment. Because the system is 100 percent cloud-based and doesn’t require connections to traditional communications service providers, “you can have a contact center in 10-15 minutes” versus wait times of a month or more using more traditional infrastructure. “It’s pretty powerful,” he said.

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