Case Study

Amazon Connect Transformed how Australia’s Iconic Carols by Candlelight Collects Donations

The iconic Australian Carols by Candlelight is held annually on Christmas eve, driving donations for not-for-profit Vision Australia. A strong partnership between Vision Australia, City of Melbourne, BMS Advisory and VoiceFoundry led to the highest donations ever achieved for the charity. Amazon Connect was the cloud platform used for the contact centre, delivering all the necessary requirements for success.

About the Cause

Carols by Candlelight Amazon Connect Deployment by VoiceFoundry

Vision Australia is a not-for-profit organisation and Australia’s largest provider of services for people with blindness and low vision. Their iconic Carols by Candlelight fundraising event has been running since 1938, supporting people who are blind or have low vision. Every Christmas Eve, the event brings together families all over the country in the spirit of goodwill and generosity. Funds raised provide valuable resources and services for children who are blind or have low vision in schools, sports and music activities, and the Feelix braille library.


In 2018 Vision Australia engaged City of Melbourne to deliver the contact centre donation experience. Volunteers acted as call centre agents for the night, taking donations via inbound calls during the live TV broadcast. This event contributes considerably to the total donations Vision Australia collects to support the charity organisation.

City of Melbourne partnered with BMS Advisory to design the experience, which was to be created and delivered within a matter of weeks. VoiceFoundry were engaged to realise the technical requirements of creating a contact centre that could handle the anticipated contact volumes. The platform chosen to manage this was the cloud contact centre solution Amazon Connect.


Project Challenges

There were several key functions that the donations centre required to ensure a successful event. Given the short lead time, there was no room for error. Scalability – to create the contact centre and swell to the size that could handle sharp peaks of call volumes over 100 reliably at any given time were crucial. It needed to be simple to use for agents, all of which were volunteers and largely unfamiliar with contact centres and related systems. The system also needed to be flexible to enable changes of direction based on real-time factors, and have capability beyond simple call-handling, such as SMS.


Partnering for success

VoiceFoundry, Amazon Connect specialists, established the contact centre in a matter of days. This was following one collaboration session led by City of Melbourne and BMS Advisory to design the end to end experience.


Why Amazon Connect?

Amazon Connect cloud contact centre was chosen due to its agility, scalability, reliability and consumption-based pricing. Not only do on-premise contact centre solutions take months to set up, but charges are accrued when not in use.

VoiceFoundry was able to establish the contact centre in a matter of days. There was no hardware required and no limitation on inbound or outbound lines. It meant that agents could work from anywhere and callers never received an engaged signal. Amazon Connect has proven to be a reliable solution since it launched, which meant that it could support Vision Australia’s fundraising goals for the Carols by Candlelight event. From a commercial perspective, Amazon Connect was extremely cost-effective. There were no agent licences to purchase or minimum contract term to sign. It is consumption-based so the only charges for the platform were the minutes used on Christmas Eve.

By its nature the event was also subject to spiky call volumes which had the potential to increase queue wait times. As such, an outbound SMS option was included in the contact flows that would direct donors to the mobile website if they did not wish to wait in queue. The contact centre was staffed by volunteers who found the Amazon Connect platform easy-to-use with minimal training.


The Outcome

The event was an outstanding success, had no technical issues and excellent voice quality. 1,581 calls were taken within 5 hours. With 48 volunteers taking calls, they maintained an impressive average occupancy rate of 99.8%.

The total donation target was set at $2 million which was impressively surpassed. A staggering $3,021,085 was raised, with approximately 25% of donations taken through the contact centre. That’s an impressive 150% increase on the donation target, and the largest amount of funds raised in the history of the Carols by Candlelight event.

Vision SMS marketing donations link

During the event, VoiceFoundry identified that there was an opportunity to shorten the timeframe for the SMS donation link option to be presented to customers. Using real-time-reporting to identify the opportunity and then being able to make this change in a matter of minutes enabled a better customer experience. The flexibility of Amazon Connect meant the change was enacted in seconds and diverted traffic to the donation’s web page during busy periods. This realisation led to 221 outbound SMS, which generated 4% of the donations and helped alleviate the overall contact centre load.

The solution collected interval and historical data during the event which will be invaluable to forecast for staffing required for next year.

The partnership between Vision Australia, City of Melbourne, BMS Advisory and VoiceFoundry, plus the volunteers on the night all contributed to a smoothly run event, and the highest donations achieved for Vision Australia since the inception of the event. VoiceFoundry was proud to be an Amazon Connect integration partner for such an inspiring event and look forward to supporting it in the future.

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