Matt Wood, General Manager of Deep Learning and AI at AWS
Matt Wood, General Manager of Deep Learning and AI at AWS, explains Amazon Connect. PHOTO: AWS

Amazon Web Services (AWS) just released Amazon Connect — its "simple, scalable and reliable service" for running call centers. 

The service uses automatic speech recognition and artificial intelligence, some of the same technology used by Amazon.com’s own customer service system, to route and manage calls.

AWS said the new cloud-based offering will help companies avoid complex, proprietary hardware and software systems. "The self-service graphical interface in Amazon Connect makes it easy for non-technical users to design contact flows, manage agents, and track performance metrics — no specialized skills required," according to the AWS website.

Customers pay by the minute for Amazon Connect use plus any associated telephony services.

Partners, Integrators Line Up

Amazon Connect integrates with Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for recorded calls. It leverages Amazon Kinesis to stream contact center metrics data to Amazon S3, Amazon Redshift or an external data warehouse solution. Amazon QuickSight can be used for data visualization and analytics and AWS Directory Service to log in to Amazon Connect with corporate credentials.

Amazon also announced integrations for Connect with CRM, workforce management, analytics and helpdesk offerings from Appian, Calabrio, CRMNEXT, Freshdesk, Paxata, Pentaho, Pindrop, Salesforce, SugarCRM, Tableau, Twilio, VoiceBase, Zendesk and Zoho

With the Calabrio integration, for example, users will be able to:

  • Leverage analytics tools to hone in on customer intentions and sentiments
  • Using the voice of the customer to uncover insights

Calabrio

"As organizations shift their focus to the customer experience, the contact center has moved into the spotlight," Tom Goodmanson, president and CEO at Calabrio, told CMSWire. "However, as many contact centers go from reactive to proactive, most are attempting to address modern challenges with outdated technologies. As organizations clamor to meet consumer expectations, contact centers must leverage a technology platform that brings together all contact center data — from the voice of the customer to agent operations — into a unified solution.

Goodmanson touted his team's full, end-to-end multi-tenanted suite" that is Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) ready but can also be deployed on premises. 

"Amazon saw us as the only one in our space that is end-to-end multi-tenanted," Goodmanson said. "I've been pounding away at this for years. Contact centers are at the center of the customer experience. Period. It's far from dead."

Contact Flows

Amazon Connect includes a capability to design contact flows that users can change based on information retrieved by Amazon Connect from AWS services (e.g. Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon Redshift or Amazon Aurora) or third-party systems (e.g. CRM or analytics solutions). 

Amazon officials cited the example of an airline that tracks a caller’s phone number, looks up their travel schedule in a booking database and presents options like “rebook” or “cancel” if the caller just missed a flight. Amazon Connect also includes connections to Amazon Lex, an AI service that has the same automatic speech recognition technology and natural language understanding that powers Amazon Alexa.

“Ten years ago, we made the decision to build our own customer contact center technology from scratch because legacy solutions did not provide the scale, cost structure, and features we needed to deliver excellent customer service for our customers around the world,” Tom Weiland, vice president of worldwide customer service of Amazon, said. “This choice has been a differentiator for us, as it is used today by our agents around the world in the millions of interactions they have with our customers."