AWS announces Amazon Connect

Amazon Web Services announces Amazon Connect, a self-service, cloud-based contact center service that makes it easy for any business to deliver better customer service at lower cost. Amazon Connect is based on the same contact center technology used by Amazon customer service associates around the world to power millions of customer conversations. With Amazon Connect, users can set up a cloud-based contact center in a few clicks via the AWS Management Console. Agents can begin taking calls within minutes, according to AWS. There are no up-front payments or long-term commitments and no infrastructure to manage with Amazon Connect; customers pay by the minute for Amazon Connect usage plus any associated telephony services. 

The contact center is the front-line for a company’s most important asset – its customer relationships. But, traditional contact center solutions are complicated and expensive. Companies often have to invest in complex, proprietary hardware and software systems that can take months or even years to deploy, require specialized skills to configure and consultants to implement, and come with inflexible licensing that makes it difficult to scale as contact volumes fluctuate. 

Configuring a Virtual Contact Center in minutes
With Amazon Connect, customers can set up and configure a “Virtual Contact Center” in minutes. There is no infrastructure to deploy or manage, so customers can scale their Amazon Connect Virtual Contact Center up or down, onboarding up to tens of thousands of agents in response to business cycles (for example short-term promotions, seasonal spikes, or new product launches) and paying only for the time callers are interacting with Amazon Connect plus any associated telephony charges. Amazon Connect’s self-service graphical interface allows non-technical users to design contact flows, manage agents, and track performance metrics, without requiring specialized skills.

Amazon Connect also makes it possible to design contact flows that adapt the caller experience. Contact flows 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). For example, an airline could design an Amazon Connect contact flow to recognize a caller’s phone number, look up their travel schedule in a booking database, and present options like “rebook,” or “cancel” if the caller just missed a flight. And, customers can build natural language contact flows using Amazon Lex, an AI service that has the same automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology and natural language understanding (NLU) that powers Amazon Alexa. These flows allow callers to simply say what they want instead of having to listen to long lists of menu options and guess which one is most closely related to what they want to do.

Making voice an application on the network
GE Appliances has been making appliances for over 100 years and today offers a wide number of appliances under the Hotpoint, GE, Haier, GE Café, GE Profile and Monogram brands. “Amazon Connect is a radical shift in the contact center space – there is no complex hardware configuration and management – Amazon Connect makes voice an application on the network. We can rapidly connect it to anything, and easily leverage other AWS micro-services we have already developed,” said Brian Pearson, CTO of GE Appliances. “Our business continually strives to improve the ownership experience of our consumers. With Amazon Connect, we can both simplify and personalize the consumer experience, aligning our processes to better address the needs of our consumers. We’re excited to move towards a software-defined call center model, using Amazon Connect, driven by customer-centricity.”

Based in Raleigh, NC, Bandwidth is a communications software company powering top brands with voice and messaging solutions. “Amazon Connect helps us streamline operations and drive workforce efficiency to the next level,” said Ryan Henley, Vice President of Customer Success, Bandwidth. “Our agents are now able to work remotely with ease using the desktop telephony features Amazon Connect provides, and our call center leaders are able to quickly and easily review calls with reps, providing a fast feedback loop for continuous performance improvement.”

AnswerConnect’s fully remote team helps clients ensure they never miss a call again, offering 24/7/365 live reception and answering service to clients worldwide. “We need to be available for our customers 24/7/365, no matter what,” said Natalie Fung, CEO of AnswerConnect. “As a fully remote company, we needed a cloud-based soft phone that could easily scale up or down, keep our remote workers connected, and give us the 24/7 availability our clients know us for. Amazon Connect has provided that and more. We have real-time, historical visibility, and reporting. Amazon Connect easily integrates with our existing systems, and the usage-based pricing accommodates our need for seasonal scalability without financial impact. These factors made our decision to move to Amazon Connect an easy one. It was the best choice for both us and our customers.”

Integrations
Amazon Connect integrates with a broad set of AWS tools and infrastructure so customers can record calls in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), use Amazon Kinesis to stream contact center metrics data to Amazon S3, Amazon Redshift, or an external data warehouse solution, use Amazon QuickSight for data visualization and analytics, and use AWS Directory Service to allow agents to log into Amazon Connect with their corporate credentials. Amazon Connect also integrates with leading CRM, Workforce Management (WFM), Analytics, and Helpdesk offerings from Appian, Calabrio, CRMNEXT, Freshdesk, Paxata, Pentaho, Pindrop, Salesforce, SugarCRM, Tableau, Twilio, VoiceBase, Zendesk, and Zoho. This means customers can embed the Amazon Connect agent experience into the applications their agents already use. If customers require additional support for custom integrations, they can work with AWS Partner Network Consulting Partners 1Strategy, Accenture, Aria Solutions, Persistent Systems, Slalom, Solstice IT, VoiceFoundry, and Wipro. 

Amazon Connect is currently available in the United States and 18 countries throughout Europe and will expand to more countries in the coming months. More information about Amazon Connect is available here

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