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Transforming Contact Centers with an AI-First Approach with AWS and IBM

The IBM Consulting Contact Center Modernization solution with Amazon Connect addresses complex issues faced by businesses, and enhances customer experience.

September 7, 2023

9 Min Read

Imagine a world where customer issues are resolved effortlessly from the first interaction and reduce customer churn. Today’s customers demand exceptional service and a seamless omnichannel experience, and they expect businesses to recognize their identity, past purchases and desired outcomes across all channels.

While some companies excel in meeting these expectations, others face significant challenges.

Contact center agents operate under vast pressure to find quick customer service solutions—yet they often lack the tools to do so. They navigate multiple screens and programs, with limited knowledge of their clients’ previous interactions, and struggle to address complex customer queries. Further, customer data is dispersed across various systems, making it difficult to access and utilize efficiently.

These mounting pressures can result in high turnover rates, accompanied by the expenses of hiring and training new agents, and lead to a negative customer experience.

The IBM Consulting Contact Center Modernization (CCM) solution with Amazon Connect addresses complex and costly issues faced by businesses, and ultimately enhances customer experience and reduces churn.

In this post, you will learn how IBM Consulting CCM combines Amazon Connect—an intuitive, omnichannel cloud platform—with enriched functionality built by IBM Consulting. By employing the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) throughout the solution, businesses can unlock accelerated time-to-value and gain access to a range of additional features that enhance customer and agent experiences to achieve industry-leading standards.

As an AWS Premier Tier Services Partner with numerous AWS Competencies and Service Delivery specializations including Amazon Connect, IBM holds a distinguished position in the industry. With IBM Consulting’s extensive expertise and capabilities in contact center transformation, gained through collaborating with clients worldwide, businesses can trust in IBM’s proven track record of success.

How IBM Enriches the Amazon Connect Solution

Contact center managers often face challenges with their infrastructure, such as implementing new features and managing multiple communication channels. This complexity requires extra effort, skills, and costs for daily operations. Upgrading these systems can be expensive, time-consuming, and risky.

IBM Consulting CCM addresses these challenges with an open architecture, leveraging the strengths of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and IBM Consulting’s expertise, while integrating with platforms like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics.

Offered as a managed service with no initial financial outlay, IBM Consulting CCM can be implemented in less than four months, minimizing upfront costs and business risks. During this time, IBM Consulting gathers necessary information, sets up the environment, configures the contact center, and deploys the solution to production.

This streamlined approach ensures an efficient implementation process, empowering contact center managers to optimize their operations, enhance customer experiences, and drive business success. All of this without the typical financial and operational burdens associated with traditional contact center infrastructure upgrades.

IBM Consulting CCM is a comprehensive managed service that enhances the core contact center capabilities of Amazon Connect. It introduces a range of new channels, features, and enhancements to improve and unify the experiences of both customers and agents across all communication channels and diverse use cases.

Here are the key enhancements:

  • Comprehensive omnichannel integration leverages classic voice and chat channels and expands its capabilities by incorporating email and messaging channels (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc.) for external and internal communications.

  • Robust self-service capabilities lean on skill-based routing and conversational AI, leveraging cutting-edge AWS services and pre-trained robots to enhance voice and digital channels. Unlike traditional interactive voice response (IVR) systems relying on Dual Tone Multiple-Frequency (DTMF) inputs, the voice part of IBM Consulting CCM utilizes natural language interpretation, enabling more intuitive and engaging interactions.

  • Integration capabilities in contact flows provide a powerful integration platform with inputs into self-service and agent-assisted conversations. This is achieved through a combination of pre-built and custom contact flows that are integrated with a comprehensive range of AWS-based cloud integration services and external systems.

  • Single sign-on (SSO) and identity verification integration based on industry standards. The solution seamlessly integrates with popular identity management platforms, such as OneLogin, to provide a streamlined and secure authentication process for users.

  • Seamless integration with customer relationship management (CRM) systems including Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, and other industry-leading platforms.

  • Custom agent user interface (UI) and supervisor app offers a modern, responsive experience for contact center employees, unifying views for easy access to features like real-time reporting and dashboards. It allows for flexibility beyond the default Contact Contact Control Panel (CCP), integrating with third-party systems like CRMs for additional customer data. This comprehensive view enables personalized customer interactions and effective management through real-time analysis and insights.

  • Synchronized custom chat UI us a customizable widget ready for integration based on the enterprise’s needs.

  • Integration with IBM Watson Assistant caters to enterprises for self-service processes. This integration provides a unified environment for live agents and supervisors, or on enterprises that require contact centers in languages that are not supported.

  • Call summarization leveraging AI and configurable rules to capture the major outcomes of each customer contact. This feature assists in significantly reducing after-call work for agents by automatically generating a summary of the call, including information such as the reason for customer contact and agent.

  • Advanced reporting, analytics, and bot maintenance are covered in a one-stop shop for insight and contact center management, integrating various data sources (including various logs, Amazon Connect, Amazon Lex, and AWS CloudTrail) to provide comprehensive outputs dashboards, open for customization, enabling export functionality.

  • Streaming data pipelines can handle data from six sources across multiple AWS services, enabling targeted outputs for various audiences. The solution offers easy extensibility, allowing seamless integration of new and external data sources, and streams data to destinations beyond AWS such as data lakes and warehouses.

  • Unified data layer is created atop the raw data sources to deliver a comprehensive view of incoming data. This unified data layer provides seamless reporting and filtering across multiple data sources, as well as supports advanced analytics.

  • Visualization as the structured form of the common data layer allows for using any business intelligence (BI) solution for visualization. Amazon QuickSight is utilized as an AWS-native solution for visualizing the data.

  • User experience is designed considering multiple user personas, with the aim of minimizing the number of touchpoints required for users to access the desired insights.

Accelerating Implementation

IBM Consulting expedites the implementation of the IBM Consulting CCM solution by leveraging automation in the deployment process, resulting in a significantly reduced deployment time of just one or two days. This accelerated implementation is made possible through the utilization of AWS CloudFormation templates, as illustrated in Figure 3 below.

AWS CloudFormation is responsible for deploying all resources, where applicable and implemented by AWS. At the component level, users can specify which components to deploy and the solution can be deployed all at once or in multiple steps using several CloudFormation stacks.

All services developed as a code have AWS CodePipelines merging a pull request deploying to cloud. Additionally, both Amazon Lex and Amazon Connect have CodePipelines configured to facilitate exporting to GitHub and importing to another environment, ensuring seamless integration and deployment workflows.

IBM Consulting CCM further expedites implementation by offering a standardized collection of industry-specific business scenarios. These serve as a foundation for pre-training virtual assistants, providing a baseline concierge bot solution capability known as IBM Consulting CCM Cartridges.

Currently, these cartridges are tailored to five industries: banking, utilities, telecommunications, retail, and insurance. Each industry cartridge contains a set of pre-built scenarios that can be customized to customer requirements.

For example, as a banking client you can set a new limit for your credit card, block your credit card, or request a new one—using just chatbot or voicebot. The virtual assistant executes requested actions using an AWS Lambda function to resolve customer requests and sending proper details to the customer enterprise system.

Additionally, next-gen pre-built project accelerators—including a comprehensive project plan, configuration workbook, estimation framework, and other tools—reduce time spent in project definition and expedite the discovery phase with pre-defined questions.

Solution Architecture

IBM Consulting CCM features a modular, loosely-coupled architecture for scalability and flexibility, allowing integration with third-party applications, enabling organizations to leverage existing tools and technologies. It uses role-based access control (RBAC) to minimize security risks and logs all activities for auditing and compliance purposes.

The following descriptions correspond to numbered sections in the solution architecture diagram shown in Figure 4:

  1. The solution centers Amazon Connect and leverages services such as Contact Lens for Amazon Connect for speech and sentiment analysis, Amazon Connect Voice ID for effective person identification, Amazon Connect Wisdom for knowledge base advising capabilities, and others.

  2. Amazon Connect channels are expanded to include email, social media, and platforms like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Microsoft Teams for comprehensive communication coverage. Together, the channels cover both external and internal communications as self-service and agent-assist capabilities.

  3. Strong self-service capabilities rely on AI, natural language processing (NLP), easily maintained contact flows, and data from external integrations.

  4. Integrations are leveraged by custom apps for data and activity triggering, while the agent and supervisor desktop provides a unified, customizable UI with performance metrics and insights. The custom chat widget is also adaptable to align with organizational branding and processes.

  5. Built-in dashboards on the agent desktop display KPIs and metrics, sourcing real-time data from Amazon Connect and historical data from Amazon QuickSight, simplifying insight acquisition across user personas.

Benefits

IBM Consulting’s CCM brings a full set of business and technical features to drive significant value. By enabling omnichannel interactions handled by live and virtual agents, available round the clock, and providing personalized insights, IBM Consulting delivers the following outcomes:

  • Improved customer satisfaction

  • Reduced average handling time (AHT)

  • Enhanced agent experience

IBM Consulting’s unique delivery and commercial approach offer added value by enabling brands to break free from the conventional customer service model and accelerate their customer service transformation with the following benefits:

  • Reduced time to achieve value

  • Substantial cost savings

  • Flexibility and scalability for future growth

Summary

In this post, you discovered a deeper understanding of how the IBM Consulting Contact Center Modernization (CCM) solution with Amazon Connect can drive your contact center and customer service transformation. By leveraging speed and operational efficiency, and by delivering exceptional customer experiences, IBM Consulting CCM enables brands to jump-start their journey towards success.

With a range of pre-built features that can be customized to align with your organization’s specific requirements, partnering with IBM Consulting empowers you to continually enhance and expand your customer service capabilities. Embrace this transformative solution and unlock the full potential of your contact center operations.

Contact IBM Consulting to learn more about how CCM can revolutionize your contact center operations, improve customer satisfaction, and drive business growth.

By: Simona Bonková and Ján Šalata, Architects – IBM Consulting; Petr Vaculík and Avdyl Haxhaj, Offering Leads – IBM Consulting; Shiva Bayati, Global D&TT GTM Alliance Lead, AWS – IBM Consulting; Phani Lingamallu, Partner Solutions Architect – AWS








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