With Amazon Connect, anyone can use Amazon’s contact center tech
New service uses the same voice tech as Alexa and integrates with AWS's other software offerings plus various cloud-based office and marketing services.
Amazon landed in another market this week, as its Web Services (AWS) company announced a cloud-based contact center service called Amazon Connect.
The company said that Connect offers the same built-from-scratch tech used by its own contact center reps. It’s metered as a service, with no upfront fees, and charges only on a per-minute basis, not counting telephone fees from a telco.
Client companies can scale up their Virtual Contact Center to tens of thousands of agents in order to handle peaks like sales, Amazon said, and can quickly ramp down afterwards.
Amazon’s Lex speech recognition service, which sits behind the company’s intelligent agent Alexa, can be employed so that callers’ intentions are interpreted without requiring them to navigate endless menus.
A self-service dashboard is designed so that non-technical users can construct contact flows, manage agents or track metrics. The contact flows can respond to data from AWS services like Amazon DynamoDB or a third-party customer relationship management system.
Amazon offers a use case where the phone number from an incoming call to an airline’s contact center is automatically looked up in an integrated database. The agent immediately sees on the screen that the caller just missed a flight, so options like “rebook” are presented.
Connect is also integrated with a variety of cloud-based office and marketing tools, including Freshdesk, Pentaho, Salesforce, SugarCRM, Tableau, Twilio, Zendesk and Zoho, plus you can work with Amazon for custom integrations.
Kyle Christensen, SVP of marketing at call tracking/analytics service Invoca, told me he thought this launch represented a “tipping point” where voice-based interaction is now a grown-up member of the contact center.
Call centers are often thought of as “old school,” he said, because many prefer older but reliable technology — including on-premise installations — instead of risking disruptions from newer approaches. Now, he predicted, Amazon’s entry makes voice interaction and cloud-hosting a standard service.
Christensen pointed out that contact centers often serve two distinct purposes — as a destination for calls from ads, particularly click-to-call links on mobile ads, and as a place where existing customers can ask questions or voice grievances.
Invoca is focused on the first, top-of-funnel use case by providing such support as data on where calls came from or automated analytics of the conversational content. Christensen said he didn’t think Amazon would move strongly in that direction, but that it is emphasizing the latter function.
However, once Amazon offers a contact center service that has a cloud back end and a voice front end, it would seem it could offer any number of its own office or marketing services, beyond integration with others.
Christensen said he thought the retail giant would do that only for other technology it has developed internally, just as it has done with AWS, and now Connect.