Last year, we released Amazon Connect, a cloud-based contact center service that enables any business to deliver better customer service at low cost. This service is built based on the same technology that empowers Amazon customer service associates. Using this system, associates have millions of conversations with customers when they inquire about their shipping or order information. Because we made it available as an AWS service, you can now enable your contact center agents to make or receive calls in a matter of minutes. You can do this without having to provision any kind of hardware. 2
There are several advantages of building your contact center in the AWS Cloud, as described in our documentation. In addition, customers can extend Amazon Connect capabilities by using AWS products and the breadth of AWS services. In this blog post, we focus on how to get analytics out of the rich set of data published by Amazon Connect. We make use of an Amazon Connect data stream and create an end-to-end workflow to offer an analytical solution that can be customized based on need.
The following diagram illustrates the solution.
In this solution, Amazon Connect exports its contact trace records (CTRs) using Amazon Kinesis. CTRs are data streams in JSON format, and each has information about individual contacts. For example, this information might include the start and end time of a call, which agent handled the call, which queue the user chose, queue wait times, number of holds, and so on. You can enable this feature by reviewing our documentation.
In this architecture, we use Kinesis Firehose to capture Amazon Connect CTRs as raw data in an Amazon S3 bucket. We don’t use the recent feature added by Kinesis Firehose to save the data in S3 as Apache Parquet format. We use AWS Glue functionality to automatically detect the schema on the fly from an Amazon Connect data stream.
The primary reason for this approach is that it allows us to use attributes and enables an Amazon Connect administrator to dynamically add more fields as needed. Also by converting data to parquet in batch (every couple of hours) compression can be higher. However, if your requirement is to ingest the data in Parquet format on realtime, we recoment using Kinesis Firehose recently launched feature. You can review this blog post for further information.
By default, Firehose puts these records in time-series format. To make it easy for AWS Glue crawlers to capture information from new records, we use AWS Lambda to move all new records to a single S3 prefix called flatfiles. Our Lambda function is configured using S3 event notification. To comply with AWS Glue and Athena best practices, the Lambda function also converts all column names to lowercase. Finally, we also use the Lambda function to start AWS Glue crawlers. AWS Glue crawlers identify the data schema and update the AWS Glue Data Catalog, which is used by extract, transform, load (ETL) jobs in AWS Glue in the latter half of the workflow.
You can see our approach in the Lambda code following.
We trigger AWS Glue crawlers based on events because this approach lets us capture any new data frame that we want to be dynamic in nature. CTR attributes are designed to offer multiple custom options based on a particular call flow. Attributes are essentially key-value pairs in nested JSON format. With the help of event-based AWS Glue crawlers, you can easily identify newer attributes automatically.
We recommend setting up an S3 lifecycle policy on the flatfiles folder that keeps records only for 24 hours. Doing this optimizes AWS Glue ETL jobs to process a subset of files rather than the entire set of records.
After we have data in the flatfiles folder, we use AWS Glue to catalog the data and transform it into Parquet format inside a folder called parquet/ctr/. The AWS Glue job performs the ETL that transforms the data from JSON to Parquet format. We use AWS Glue crawlers to capture any new data frame inside the JSON code that we want to be dynamic in nature. What this means is that when you add new attributes to an Amazon Connect instance, the solution automatically recognizes them and incorporates them in the schema of the results.
After AWS Glue stores the results in Parquet format, you can perform analytics using Amazon Redshift Spectrum, Amazon Athena, or any third-party data warehouse platform. To keep this solution simple, we have used Amazon Athena for analytics. Amazon Athena allows us to query data without having to set up and manage any servers or data warehouse platforms. Additionally, we only pay for the queries that are executed.
Try it out!
You can get started with our sample AWS CloudFormation template. This template creates the components starting from the Kinesis stream and finishes up with S3 buckets, the AWS Glue job, and crawlers. To deploy the template, open the AWS Management Console by clicking the following link.
In the console, specify the following parameters:
- BucketName: The name for the bucket to store all the solution files. This name must be unique; if it’s not, template creation fails.
- etlJobSchedule: The schedule in cron format indicating how often the AWS Glue job runs. The default value is every hour.
- KinesisStreamName: The name of the Kinesis stream to receive data from Amazon Connect. This name must be different from any other Kinesis stream created in your AWS account.
- s3interval: The interval in seconds for Kinesis Firehose to save data inside the flatfiles folder on S3. The value must between 60 and 900 seconds.
- sampledata: When this parameter is set to true, sample CTR records are used. Doing this lets you try this solution without setting up an Amazon Connect instance. All examples in this walkthrough use this sample data.
Select the “I acknowledge that AWS CloudFormation might create IAM resources.” check box, and then choose Create. After the template finishes creating resources, you can see the stream name on the stack Outputs tab.
If you haven’t created your Amazon Connect instance, you can do so by following the Getting Started Guide. When you are done creating, choose your Amazon Connect instance in the console, which takes you to instance settings. Choose Data streaming to enable streaming for CTR records. Here, you can choose the Kinesis stream (defined in the KinesisStreamName parameter) that was created by the CloudFormation template.
Now it’s time to generate the data by making or receiving calls by using Amazon Connect. You can go to Amazon Connect Cloud Control Panel (CCP) to make or receive calls using a software phone or desktop phone. After a few minutes, we should see data inside the flatfiles folder. To make it easier to try this solution, we provide sample data that you can enable by setting the sampledata parameter to true in your CloudFormation template.
You can navigate to the AWS Glue console by choosing Jobs on the left navigation pane of the console. We can select our job here. In my case, the job created by CloudFormation is called glueJob-i3TULzVtP1W0; yours should be similar. You run the job by choosing Run job for Action.
After that, we wait for the AWS Glue job to run and to finish successfully. We can track the status of the job by checking the History tab.
When the job finishes running, we can check the Database section. There should be a new table created called ctr in Parquet format.
To query the data with Athena, we can select the ctr table, and for Action choose View data.
Doing this takes us to the Athena console. If you run a query, Athena shows a preview of the data.
When we can query the data using Athena, we can visualize it using Amazon QuickSight. Before connecting Amazon QuickSight to Athena, we must make sure to grant Amazon QuickSight access to Athena and the associated S3 buckets in the account. For more information on doing this, see Managing Amazon QuickSight Permissions to AWS Resources in the Amazon QuickSight User Guide. We can then create a new data set in Amazon QuickSight based on the Athena table that was created.
After setting up permissions, we can create a new analysis in Amazon QuickSight by choosing New analysis.
Then we add a new data set.
We choose Athena as the source and give the data source a name (in this case, I named it connectctr).
Choose the name of the database and the table referencing the Parquet results.
Then choose Visualize.
After that, we should see the following screen.
Now we can create some visualizations. First, search for the agent.username column, and drag it to the AutoGraph section.
We can see the agents and the number of calls for each, so we can easily see which agents have taken the largest amount of calls. If we want to see from what queues the calls came for each agent, we can add the queue.arn column to the visual.
After following all these steps, you can use Amazon QuickSight to add different columns from the call records and perform different types of visualizations. You can build dashboards that continuously monitor your connect instance. You can share those dashboards with others in your organization who might need to see this data.
In this post, you see how you can use services like AWS Lambda, AWS Glue, and Amazon Athena to process Amazon Connect call records. The post also demonstrates how to use AWS Lambda to preprocess files in Amazon S3 and transform them into a format that recognized by AWS Glue crawlers. Finally, the post shows how to used Amazon QuickSight to perform visualizations.
You can use the provided template to analyze your own contact center instance. Or you can take the CloudFormation template and modify it to process other data streams that can be ingested using Amazon Kinesis or stored on Amazon S3.
If you found this post useful, be sure to check out Analyze Apache Parquet optimized data using Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose, Amazon Athena, and Amazon Redshift and Visualize AWS Cloudtrail Logs Using AWS Glue and Amazon QuickSight.
About the Authors
Luis Caro is a Big Data Consultant for AWS Professional Services. He works with our customers to provide guidance and technical assistance on big data projects, helping them improving the value of their solutions when using AWS.
Peter Dalbhanjan is a Solutions Architect for AWS based in Herndon, VA. Peter has a keen interest in evangelizing AWS solutions and has written multiple blog posts that focus on simplifying complex use cases. At AWS, Peter helps with designing and architecting variety of customer workloads.