AWS Solution Helps L.A. County Address Call Wait Times

A partnership between Los Angeles County, Presidio and Amazon Web Services has helped automate response to incoming calls for service, reducing hold and wait times and helping measure customer satisfaction.

After hearing feedback from internal and external customers, Los Angeles County is partnering with two communications providers to deploy technology that will transform its longstanding call center into a contact center.

A call center, officials emphasized to Techwire, merely responds to calls for service, often with human-to-human interaction that, while personalized, may not be the most efficient delivery method. That was the case with the county’s existing call center, which had existed on-prem for more than a decade, said Benny Chacko, deputy general manager of the Internal Services Department (ISD). A contact center, Chacko added, could enable “multiple modes of contact” including text, mobile and online.

“It was more of an opportunity to really leverage that type of newer technology as it relates to cloud-based contact centers, see how can we really get rid of those standard types of calls or those types of actions that our agents would typically have to take or receive those calls. And have those handled through some kind of automated fashion through artificial intelligence (AI),” Chacko said. The agency partnered with Presidio and Amazon Web Services in late 2018 to deploy the latter’s AWS Connect; and, though the rollout is ongoing, it is already seeing benefits in how AI and machine learning can streamline communication. Among the takeaways:

• Interaction times have been affected. The agency received 32,315 calls during calendar 2018 seeking “411 lookups,” or referrals or transfers to another entity, with a majority being for “simple number transfers,” ISD said via email. Amazon Connect, however, was able to automate number lookups and connections via speech-to-text, ISD said, enabling “immediate reduction of resources required to fulfill demand.” During that same period, the agency had 41,323 IT incidents reported. Twenty-three percent involved session resets; and 34 percent were hosted virtual desktop infrastructure-related (HVDI) calls. The latter take the longest to troubleshoot, ISD said – but have also been automated by Amazon Connect.

• "Sentiment analysis" is enabling better customer relations. Traditional call technology measures customer satisfaction through tools like end-of-call surveys. The new solution, however, is able to make that determination automatically based on voice tone, word usages and speech.

“We’re doing it for every single one of our calls so we can use those as training opportunities and really hone in on what are our issues that we have to deal with, and increase our customer satisfaction,” Chacko said.

• Mobility is the next goal. Because the new contact center is cloud-based, customer service agents can be based virtually anywhere they have a laptop with the appropriate software, and an Internet connection. This enables not only remote work, but remote staff-ups if the agency needs to increase its headcount during an emergency. Officials are in the midst of enabling this feature and hope to deploy it during the next few weeks.

• The new technology itself may reveal what’s next. This system, the deputy general manager said, won’t necessarily be fully deployed; but rather, will continue to evolve. Officials will use call metrics to guide how calls are handled and how automation proceeds.

Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Techwire.