Amazon Connect – Is today a Holiday?

Is Today A Holiday?

Having deployed hundreds of CISCO UCCX and ShoreTel ECC and other Contact Centers, checking to see if today is a holiday seemed to be the “minimum daily adult requirement” for contact center management.  In fact one of the most popular scripts on the net for CISCO UCCX was named “HolidayCheck”!    In fact we used this script to provide an XML tutorial  on the DrVoIP YouTube channel.  Checking a list of holidays to deal with periodic contact center closings is usually a standard feature in most call center applications and telephone systems.

Amazon Connect, however, does not provide a “holiday check” out of the box!   If you want one, like many other features in Amazon Connect you are going to have to create it by writing your own function.  The good news is that the wealth of services in AWS makes this a very simple task using nothing more than a Lambda function!

Contact Flow – Invoke Lambda

An Amazon Connect contact flow would do the normal “check hours” to figure out if the caller was hitting the system during “on hours” or “off hours”.  If the call arrived during normal business hours, then the next step would be to check and see if today was a holiday.    The contact flow adds a simple “invokeLambda” function to make this determination. To simplify the lambda function, we include the list of holiday’s as an object array within the environmental variables.

We determined to create a simple lambda holiday check function using the fewest lines of Node.js code as possible!  In fact there is no need to invoke the function by passing in a date.  You simply invoke lambda and it uses the javascript date() function to parse through your list of holidays comparing todays date with the individual list items.   What we want returned is a simple “true” if today is in fact a “holiday”; or a “false” if today is not a holiday!  Very simple!   The branch step in your contact flow will be based on this simple boolean value returned from lambda.

Improving the function

Now that we know if “today is a holiday” we have the basics in place.   Improving the function has endless possibilities.  For example:

The basic function assumes a full day closure.  What about half days.

It would also be desirable to have an ability to play a custom audio prompt based on the specific holiday closure.

Clearly you can make the administrative interface much more acceptable to a call center supervisor while eliminating the need to let non-development professionals access the AWS Console.  In the basic function, updating the holiday schedule would require folks be able to access the lambda functions directly to update the environmental variables.    Creating an S3 bucket as a static website host, with a simple HTML interface to enable system administrators to update the holiday list from year to year would be an obvious improvement.   This option would open the door to allowing supervisors to close a queue for a team meeting.


Amazon Connect is an element of a very large ecosystem in which the available services enable you to create a contact center that can meet your wildest imagination!   If you can “see it”  you can make it happen!  Optionally, you can call on DrVoIP and we will make it happen for you!

The Lambda Function is available here.

The function is written in Node.js and is built out using the Serverless framework which you will need to make use of, to deploy the function in your own Amazon Portal:

First you have to configure an AWS CLI profile in order to deploy here is steps to configure it:
step 1: Open terminal
step 2: Execute command “aws configure –profile <profileName>” it will ask for input key id, access key, and region
Next here is steps to deploy service:
step 1: Open terminal
step 2: Get to project root directory
step 3: Execute command “serverless deploy –aws-profile <profileName>”





DrVoIP Amazon Connect Tech Tip – LEX Bot Versions!

Well, it is the 21st century and though we still drag around fax machines, we do seem to be getting away from Touch Tone Call Tree IVR systems!  Really, are you not tired of “Press 1 for this and Press 2 for that”?   I know I am at every opportunity to replace a DTMF IVR with a speech recognition I jump on it!  “Thanks for calling how can I route your call” is a lot more like what you would imagine we would have in the era of Artificial Intelligence and natural language speech processing.   Thanks to the ever expanding ecosystem found in the AWS, we can add this technology to an Amazon Connect Call Center with ease and economy.  Long gone are the outrageous “per-port” license fees historically charged for speech recognition technology.

We have other tutorials on our YouTube Channel that deal with configuration of LEX, the AWS speech recognition capable BOT!   In this tech tip we review the process of “versioning” you LEX bot and we explore the concept of “Alias” publications.  This is often a misunderstood concept and hopefully this tutorial will help eliminate or reduce the mystery of this subject matter!    Keep those cards and letters coming –


A Call Center for Cheap, Penny Pinching, Tightwads on a budget!

We Design, Deploy, Service and Customize Amazon Connect!

Since 2008 DrVoIP had been working  in the support of VoIP based call centers from CISCO, Avaya and Mitel/ShoreTel solutions.   Since 2017 we have focused exclusively on AWS services with a particular focus on ‘Amazon Connect” call centers.   From Recording and Voice Mail solutions, through Workforce Management and Voice analytics we have provided custom software  integrations on time, on budget and with the highest customer satisfaction scores.  Our references are public, verifiable and serve as a guide to our abilities and commitment to excellence.

We are not here to run up your professional service bill.  We are here to help you realize your call center vision an always work on a “fixed fee” basis.

We deploy “virtually” and “globally” so just click or call! –

DrVoIP fixed cost deployment packages

  • Complete design, deployment and training base package includes:
    • Amazon Connect instance setup in customer AWS Account, with usage billing direct from AWS;
      •  Up to 10 inbound toll or DID numbers
        • DNIS direct to queue routing or 1 IVR DTMF Options Menu
      •  Up to  5 Customer Service Queues
      • English Language support (option for Spanish, French)
      • Unlimited Agents
        • We configure 5 Agents for your use as a template and you configure all the others you may want
      • Up to 5 Routing Profiles
        • Routing profiles bind Agents to the CSQ they are assigned to work in.
      • Voice Mail with Email and SMS delivery
      • Queue Hold  with options for “call back”, voice mail, transfer or continue to hold for Agent
      • Website Chat
        • a single queue connector that enables website visitor to “chat” with call center Agent
      • Dextr Dashboard integration
        • Dextr can provide email routing, text routing, real time and historical reporting
      • Fixed Price Deployment $2995
        • Larger call centers quickly quoted!
      • Multiple Language support
      • DIAL by Extension
        • Each agent has faux Extension number that can be used for direct call to agent
      • Dial by Name
        • Speech Recognition enables caller to speak a name (i.e. Tom) or function (i.e. Sales)
      • CRM Integration
        • Standard Publish Connector for Salesforce, Zendesk, Freshdesk, ZoHo, ServiceNow and others
          • Functionality defined by the CRM provider and author of the connector
      • CHAT BOT
        • FAQ, or Data acquisition before escalation to a Call Center Agent.
  • Free Trial of Dextr Dashboard is included!

To order an Initial Basic Configuration package and receive a detailed planing guide click here .  Contact or Better yet,  Call 800-946-6127 ask LEX for the the Doctor!

Amazon Connect Call Center build strategy

We offer qualified companies a no cost “Proof of Concept “ (POC) Amazon Call Center Instance built in our portal for your use and testing with your agents able to log in and take phone calls on a number we provide.  A POC can be set up within a few hours!  From the POC, we design and deploy a solution that meets your requirements in your Amazon Connect portal.  We make use of our discovery process and planning guides.   We also build our solutions with our own Agent dashboard, named Dextr.   Dextr  provides the core feature set  that all call center professionals expect including voice, text and email routing to the ‘next available agent’.   We can also provide outbound “auto campaign dialers” to increase agent productivity for notifications, recorded announcements and appointment reminders.

Your TCO is further reduced, when compared to the cost of the  software engineering or professional services required to obtain the same feature set as that available to Dextr subscribers.    Dextr is a UCaaS solution that front ends Amazon Connect Instances with a custom agent dashboard and supervisor display.  Any enterprise with an Amazon Connect instance can onboard themselves at  We deploy “virtually” and “globally” so just click or call!

DrVoIP Amazon Connect for the Business Manager

  1. What makes up a Basic Amazon Connect Call Center?
  2. Amazon Connect Discover Questions for Call Center Planning
  3. Amazon Connect Planning Guide
  4. Amazon Connect Historical Reporting Options
  5. The ROI and TCO when using the Dextr Dashboard
  6. Amazon Connect Check List
  7. Amazon Reporting Elements
  8. Understanding Amazon Connect Billing
  9. Amazon Connect & Dextr.Cloud Agent Dashboard
  10. Three Minute Video Overview of the Dextr Dashboard for Amazon Connect 
  11. What are “soft limitations” on new accounts?
  12. Advanced Post Call Survey strategies 
  13. Speech Analytics now a standard part of Amazon Connect and Dextr!

DrVoIP Amazon Connect for the Technical Manager

  1. Amazon Connect Basic Configuration Tutorial
  2. Amazon Connect Custom integration Tools
  3. Amazon Connect Configuration “tips and tricks”
  4. Tech Tip – Understanding LEX BOT Versioning and Alias 
  5. Deep Call Back from Queue without losing your place in Queue 
  6. Simple, Cheap and useful Voice Mail Solution 
  7. Is Today a Holiday Check?
  8. Amazon Connect “Forced Release” Options 
  9. Amazon Connect building prompts with Polly
  10. Building Conversational LEX Solutions
  11. Amazon Connect Call Back from Queue Options
  12. Email Routing in Amazon Connect
  13. What are “Soft Limits”
  14. Building Custom CCP for CRM Integrations
  15. SMS Inbound request for call back 

DrVoIP YouTube Channel – Complete Amazon Connect Configuration training!

Amazon Connect Email Routing using Dextr.Cloud

The Dextr Dashboard for Amazon Connect Agents has added email routing to its existing voice and SMS/MMS channels.   Similar to a voice call, an incoming email message is routed to the next available in the queue assigned for email.   Dextr will collect emails, provide auto responders.   The email is “sticky” and the email conversation will stay with the first Agent to respond to the email until the conversation is ended.  Similar to the Dextr SMS channel, if the original agent is not available to handle the follow on conversations, the entire conversation will be forwarded to the next available agent.

Setup is easy, in the Channels tab of a Dextr user with Administrator permissions, simply enter the appropriate email user, password, imap and smtp host address!  Then configure the queue that should be the target of an inbound email along with the initial email auto responder and the end of conversation auto responder.  Multiple emails can be established and can point to different customer service queues!

Email setup and queue selection!

Agents can manage email and voice calls depending on the permissions and queue assignments.  Creating an email named can be routed to the customer service team.  Email is an asynchronous yet powerful customer tools and many folks prefer it to waiting on hold for the next available agent!  When an incoming email is routed to an available agent, they accept the mail exactly as they do a voice or sms call.   Opening the ENGAGE EMAIL tab displays the content of the incoming email.  As the email conversations ping pongs back and forth, the agent will see the entire email conversation in the ENGAGE portal.

The Agent will find the accepted email in the email client registered for that agent’s email box.   The agent will then respond to the email and Dextr will assure that the recipient of the email sees that it is from the address of the origitanl email TO: filed.   There is a button to END the conversation and when clicked, the final auto responder defined during the email channel setup, is sent to the author of the original incoming email.  (Those familiar with ShoreTel ECC routing will be very comfortable with this email implementation which has the additional benefit of being “sticky”.  If the agent who originally responded to the incoming email is unavailable, the entire email conversation is forwarded to the next available agent for follow up.

Dextr email routing is a bundled feature in your subscription and you should give it a try!  Price is what you pay, value is what you receive.

The ROI of the Dextr Dashboard for Amazon Connect Call Centers!

Amazon Connect the Call Center!

Amazon Connect allows you to tap the very rich library of AWS Services including AI, Natural Language Processing, text to speech, transcriptions and translations!   Your Amazon Connect instance is scalable, resilient and fully redundant in the most widely respect cloud on the planet.  If you can “dream”  it, you can create a call center that meets your exact requirements.   Amazon Connect enables even a non-technical professional the simplicity of configuring an inbound call flow, attaching a phone number, defining agents and operating hours and in less than an hour, you are taking phone calls. Given that every call center has some kind of database integration required to pop screens, or route callers, you do need some software engineering and consulting services to get to the next level of feature sets and functionality.

That is why we think the Dextr Dashboard, at less than a penny a minute all but pays for itself.

Lets look at some feature examples:

Assume you would like to add “Holiday Schedules” and “Ad-hoc closings” to your Amazon Connect feature set.  Out of the box, Amazon Connect does not have Holiday schedules.   This is not a very complex feature set to implement if your are a software engineer.  Add Amazon DynamoDB as the database engine to store you Holiday list and Amazon Lambda to be the code that checks  to see if “Today Is a Holiday” is a TRUE value, returning that result to to your Amazon Connect Contact Flow.  If it is true that today is in fact a holiday, we want to route you to some options for handling your call while we the call center is closed!

As a Supervisor you may want to close your Customer Service Queue (CSQ) to hold a team meeting.    You will want to do this yourself without having to fill out a service request for the Admin team.   Ideally you will want to identify the meeting as “technical support team weekly update”, set the date and time of the meeting and even create a custom prompt to be played to the caller if they reach this CSQ during the time the meeting is taking place.   Again, given the library of AWS services available this is relatively straight forward for an implementation engineer.  You will use the same tools as the above Holiday schedule but you will need to add in Poly for text to speech to get that custom prompt.

AgentUser Interface or “dashboard”?

Then again there is the issue of how do you interface with Amazon Connect to implement those simple features?   You are going to have to create some user friendly graphical interface that simplifies this magic and makes it easy for the Supervisor to do this on their own without technical support from the IT or Admin team.    In fact, you will most likely want to have a user interface that can stand the test of time as you continue to enhance your Amazon Connect feature set!   This graphical user interface should also work on multiple devices in addition to your desktop computer.  Devices like smart phones and pads for mobile supervisors and remote agents!

How much does feature development cost?

So using the two features above as an example, Holiday Schedules and Ad-hoc closings, let’ look at the cost of design, deployment, training and ongoing support.    First, you would contract with a competent, experienced and Amazon certified development resource.    Let’s assume that you contracted with DrVoIP, a certified Amazon Connect Service Delivery partner.    You would expect a written statement of work (SOW) and a budget.   This might look something like this:

  1. Holiday Schedule – Enables the creation of a holiday list that indicates the date and time during which specific customer service queues may be closed.   The application should enable both full day and half day closings.   The application should allow for different schedules to be applied to different customer service queues.   The contact flows for each of the affected customer service queues will be modified to incorporate this functionality. – 40 hours
  2. Ad-hoc  closing with custom prompt- Enables an individual with Supervisor permissions to configure and close a customer service queue.  The Supervisor must be able to set the time and date. the date must also be able to be for multiple days.  Additionally, the Supervisor should be able to create a new prompt to be played to the caller during the closed period.The contact flows for each of the affected customer service queues will be modified to incorporate this functionality. 40 hours
  3. Front End GUI – Develop a simple administrative user interface to enable the configuration and management of the above  two features.  Assure that the interface has growth potential to enable the addition of new functionality as it is developed. – 40 hours
  4. User Training and “go live” support.  – 5 hours
  5. Project budget for DrVoIP Virtual Implementation model  125  hours at the already ridiculously low price of $135 an hour = $16,875

Why Dextr is “almost free”!

The Dextr Dashboard includes this basic functionality.   Dextr has a price of less than 1 penny a logged in minute (e.g. .007).   This means you could drive a Dextr Dashboard for 2,410,714.29 or 5,035 days!  Given an agent day of 480 minute, you could drive a 20 agent call center for a year!

Now Consider that full range of Dextr Dashboard features and the value proposition sky rockets!

  • 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

Head over to https://Dextr.Cloud and sign up for a “free trial”.   What?  You do not have an Amazon Connect call center?  Then give us a call and we will build you a proof of concept and then migrate you to the cloud based call center of your dreams!  –


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.



Amazon Connect Arrange a Call Back from Queue?

Setting up options for Callers waiting in Queue for “the next available representative” often include offering a call back option. Generally, it is a best practice to not offer this option immediately but queue the caller for some time before offering this option. They have already called in and you have answered the call, so let them wait a few minutes before offering bail out options.

Common Call Flow Errors!

One of the most common errors in call center call flow planning is allowing a customer caller to queue for an Agent when no agents are logged in! The second biggest error, is leaving folks in the call back queue, at 5PM when all the agents log out and go home! So how do you do make sure this situation does not happen?

As it relates to the first issue, we always check to make sure that Agents are logged in BEFORE we queue a caller! This is a very simple step to do and it saves a lot of aggravation for callers who will never forget how long you left them rotting away in an empty queue!

Now as it relates to ‘call back’ without losing your place in queue, we have the same issue. Let’s assume that you offer callers this option. It is now 15 minutes before closing, what happens if all the agents log out before the call back is next in queue?

Call Back without losing your place?

In AWS Connect, Call Backs will follow the On-hours schedule. So if someone left a request for call back at closing time, that option will not trigger until the next day when the queue is open per On-hours. Lets see if we can improve this, but NOT offering that option late in the day!

We can setup a new schedule that only offers the call back between certain hours, so that if it is near closing, we do not offer the caller this option. This can be easily scripted in AWS Connect Contact Flows by adding a “check on-hours” step that eliminates this option when callers enter the queue and hour before closing time. This assures that Agents can log out at the appointed time and not leave anybody in queue!

AWS Connect is written around “contact flows” of different types. A “contact flow” handles inbound calls and routes them to Agents in queue. A “customer queue” contact flow deals with how to treat a caller while they are awaiting for the “next available representative”. You will learn this the hard way the first time you try to add a block to a contact flow and find that, though the block was there earlier, it is not there now! Why, the contact flow you are working on, does not support this type of block.

Free Call Back Script just for Asking

In this example we use a “Main Greeting” that is triggered by a call to the DNIS number associated with this path. We start the contact flow off by setting up all the variables like what voice to use, are we logging, what queue hold to use, which queue we are using etc. The flow goes on to check operating hours – routing ON- hours to the Queue and Off-hours to the Voice Message center.

If it is “On-hours” we send the call to the Queue flow. If an Agent is available, we connect them to the caller. If all agents are engaged with other callers, we queue the call. We play our “poor mans” Estimated wait time and then queue them with a “care message” followed by Music. 60 seconds later, we offer the option to continue to hold for an agent, or press 1 to receive a call back without losing your place in queue’.

Before we offer this option, we check another schedule that determines if we should offer the call back option. If the caller hits the center during the call back hours, the call proceeds as described above. If it is an hour before closing time, we do not offer the option.

So hit us up with a request and we will send you three “Quick Start” scripts that enable you to get this working as quickly as you can import the scripts into your AWS Connect call center instance.

Better yet – Give us a call and we will set this up for you!

Amazon Connect replaces ShoreTel Workgroups with the Dextr Dashboard!

Replace ShoreTel Workgroups with AWS Connect1

Recently we had a client with a very specific set of requirements and DrVoIP was able to satisfy with Dextr dashboard!   The client had a ShoreTel deployment that used ShoreTel Workgroups. ShoreTel Workgroups are often called a ‘poor man’s’ call center.  The client had made a decision too they were migrating away from ShoreTel to Skype for Business, they needed a new Call Center solution.  Workgroups act like traditional hunt groups but they enable customer queueing and both historical and real time reporting in a manner that is very similar to a formal call center.

The client wanted to replicate ShoreTel Workgroups along with the same ‘look and feel’ as ShoreTel Workgroup agent dashboard.   This dashboard enabled queue monitoring and also enabled a supervisor to change an agent state from Forced release to available or move an agent between queues.   We had no doubt that AWS Connect was the ideal solution, but we knew the Connect Control Panel or CCP as AWS calls the webRTC soft phone, would need a lot of work if it was going to provide the same functionality as ShoreTel.


We created the basic Dextr Agent dashboard to have the same features and functionality as the ShoreTel Workgroup Agent interface with several new and advanced features.  We needed to create a solution that would enable Supervisors to create an ‘ad hoc’ meeting and to close the call center and even create a new ‘CLOSED’ greeting.   Additionally it would be desirable if the Supervisor could send a broadcast message to all the agents in the queue.  This broadcast message would scroll across the agents screen, alerting all to a situation that the Supervisor wanted to bring to the attention of all Agent.

AWS Connect Holiday Schedule.

The first requirement was to setup a holiday schedule and also to allow the supervisor to create a ‘CLOSED FOR MEETING’ date and time.  AWS Connect does not have this ability out of the box, but it does have the API’s available to create such a solution.  So our team added this functionality!  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.

Dextr uses AWS Lambda to test for a holiday or ad hoc closing as step one in the opening contact flow.   The Lambda function brings back open or closed, a reason code and the text to speech prompt.   In this way the caller might hear ‘ You have reached us at a time we are closed for <insert reason from Lambda>, please hold while we transfer you to the message center’.   The entire message is created by the supervisor as the TTS or text block that will be returned by Lambda.

Dextr also enables the Supervisor to send out a broadcast message that scrolls for all queues or just a selected queue!  This is a list of all the features of the Dextr Dashboard basic version;

  • Nothing to install! Instant Access via which has video instructions for on boarding;
  • Customizable Logo;
  • Role based Login (supervisor, agent, administrator)
  • SAML support;
  • Agent Team Status Display;
  • 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.

Dextr augments the basic AWS Connect CCP softphone to enable advanced features that we find most call centers demand!  See Dextr.Cloud or DrVoiP.COM for additional details!





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.