AWS Public Sector Blog

Supporting the LGBTQ+ communities of L.A. with scalable contact center solutions

The Los Angeles LGBT Center has cared for, championed, and celebrated lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) individuals and families in Los Angeles (L.A.) and beyond since 1969. Today, we provide direct services for more LGBTQ+ people than any other organization in the world across nine facilities in L.A. County. We have a staff of over 800 employees that work to offer programs, services, and global advocacy across health, social services, housing, culture, education, and more.

All our services are free or low cost. Our health services include primary care, HIV/AIDS specialty care, transgender health, women’s health, and mental health services. Our medical providers are experts at caring for LGBTQ+ people and understand the issues that disproportionately affect these communities. Thanks in part to Amazon Web Services (AWS), we have been able to more effectively serve the community and achieve our mission.

Some of our most robust programs focus on youth experiencing homelessness. On any given day there are 6,000 youth (ages 24 and younger) living on the streets of L.A., mostly in Hollywood. A staggering 30 percent of these youth are LGBTQ+. The Center offers them critical help, including three meals a day, clothing, support groups, an onsite charter high school, GED and college prep program, employment preparation, training, and placement program, independent living skills building, medical care, counseling, and more.

The Center also supports LGBTQ+ seniors who live in the L.A. area. In fact, there are an estimated 65,000 LGBTQ+ people over the age of 64 who live in L.A. — 68 percent of whom live alone. More than others of their age, LGBTQ+ seniors struggle to afford housing and other necessities because they are four times less likely to have children and grandchildren to support them. They are twice as likely as their heterosexual counterparts to live alone. Our Senior Services include Triangle Square, the world’s first—and L.A.’s only— affordable housing development for LGBTQ+ seniors.

Offering social services alone is not enough. The Center fights to advance civil rights and freedoms for LGBTQ+ people domestically and internationally through education, advocacy, and community organizing. We also advocate locally and nationally for policies and resources that advance the health and wellness of our diverse community. To build a stronger LGBTQ+ community, we provide leadership development programs for activists and technical assistance for LGBTQ+ organizations everywhere.

Using Amazon Connect to support our constituents and scale our call centers

About four years ago, our health services team asked me to establish a call center to support incoming inquiries from the Center’s community members about health related services. At that time, nobody in our health services programs had a clear understanding of what a “virtual call center” really meant and what their capabilities could be, so I started to research my options.

We explored Amazon Connect, an omnichannel contact center service in the cloud. Having more than 30 years of experience in the software industry, I understand how complex the technology is for a call center. At first I was concerned that the technology would get in the way and we would only get as far as a prototype. But in mere minutes, I was able to create a call flow that mirrored the capabilities we had setup for our existing private phone system, and by the end of the week we had a fully operational call center taking live calls for our health services programs.

To have the ability to stand up a system that is customized to meet our organizational needs as well as our beneficiaries’ needs is phenomenal. We were able to go from an idea to a testing environment to a fully deployed scalable, secure, and extensible solution virtually overnight. This saved us valuable time and saved us money that we put directly to our mission.

Our call center is largely the face of the Center for individuals who do not come to our facility but want to make use of our programming and services. Depending on the time of the day, hundreds of individuals contact our health services department call center. Individuals can call us with questions about everything from their upcoming appointments, prescriptions, or anything related to our mental health services. The Center now has over 50 staff members dedicated to taking calls via Amazon Connect. We serve over 30,000 clients in our clinic, and we handled explosive growth over the past year. With the help of Amazon Connect, we continue to meet our clients’ needs during Covid-19 without additional headcount in the call center.

Going zero to sixty virtually overnight

In addition to our standard call center operations, we spun-up an event-based call center to meet the atypical increases in calls we received during our first-ever televised fundraising event. In partnership with a local TV station, KTLA, the Center orchestrated a live telethon to raise awareness for our organization and solicit donations. The Center raised nearly $1.3M, an achievement, as it was a first-of-its-kind event for the organization.

With this telethon came an influx of inbound calls from donors and supporters. Thanks to AWS and Amazon Connect, our call center infrastructure scaled seamlessly to meet the increases in demand. Amazon Connect provided us the flexibility to scale our contact center up and down as the volume of callers changed. We only had to pay for the capacity that we use, with no upfront costs. We can meet the demands of normal organizational operations and easily onboard new agents in response to irregular events like the telethon.

Ultimately, AWS has been remarkable at providing us access to information about the cloud services that can help our organization more efficiently achieve our mission. This type of support has given my team and me the ability to be curious and explore the numerous ways the Center can benefit from the cloud. We have not only learned a lot from the AWS team directly, but they have also exposed us to other nonprofits whose use of the cloud has inspired our organization.

How to scale contact centers to support communities with the cloud

The cloud offers nonprofits and non-government organizations (NGOs) powerful ways to scale and advance their mission goals. Cloud-based services such as omnichannel contact center solutions like Amazon Connect allow organizations to streamline and scale how they offer support for their communities.

Interested in more stories of organizations optimizing their contact centers with the cloud? Read more blog posts here about how Amazon Connect is changing the way nonprofits and other organizations manage how they serve the needs of their constituents. Learn more about Amazon Connect here, and contact us to discover how your team can use cloud-based solutions to optimize and scale the way you support your communities.

Nonprofits and NGOs around the world are increasing their impact with AWS. AWS offers multiple programs for nonprofits to get started on the cloud, including the AWS Nonprofit Credit Program, which helps organizations offset the costs of implementing cloud-based solutions. Apply for the AWS Nonprofit Credit Program to start your journey with AWS.

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