Amazon just launched a preliminary cloud contact center offering, built on AWS. It offers an IVR, natural language understanding via Lex, queueing and routing and telephony infrastructure. It supports basic self-service interactions, and phone interactions. The best videos to explain what Amazon Connect does is at: Getting Started With Amazon Connect and Introducing Amazon Connect.
Even though this is a first step in the commercial contact center world, this offering is really cool. Why? Because Amazon knows how to build and run contact centers. They built their own infrastructure to power "millions of customer conversations". Amazon Connect has the potential for democratizing customer service technologies – making them simpler, smarter and prepackaged, to allow companies of all sizes to offer good service.
Today, a customer service organization needs 3 technology categories to support their operations: queuing and routing technologies (to route incidents to the right agent), a CRM or customer service agent desktop (to capture customer and case details), and workforce optimization technologies (to manage agent staffing, productivity, quality and forecasting).
This technology ecosystem is cumbersome, unintegrated, and vendors offer pieces of this ecosystem. Sure, there’s been movement to consolidate these categories over the last several years. But, still nobody offers the end-to-end solution that customers demand.
Amazon has taken baby steps to do just this. Amazon Connect is a scalable cloud offering, with usage-based pricing. They claim that Connect can be set up in minutes so that agents can take calls right away. It’s still missing a lot of the parts. For example, I don’t see support for digital interactions like chat or messaging). Customers who use this will still need to provide a CRM or customer service agent desktop, and workforce management solutions to manage agent staffing.
Amazon has the potential to disrupt this mature market. I’ll be keeping an eye on them.