AWS Launches Cloud-Based Call Center Service
Amazon.com's in-house call center platform, which it uses to interact with millions of online retail customers around the world, is now available for purchase by Amazon Web Services (AWS) customers.
AWS announced the launch of Amazon Connect on Tuesday, touting it as an easy-to-deploy, low-cost, cloud-based contact center solution that obviates the need for complicated hardware and licensing configurations. It is immediately available out of the Northern Virginia region, with pricing structured as a pay-as-you-go model.
Though organizations are free to tap an AWS consulting partner for help with Amazon Connect, the solution is designed to be self-service. Organizations can begin using Amazon Connect today through their AWS Management Console, where they can set up a virtual contact center within minutes. It's also scalable, enabling users to onboard up to tens of thousands of customer service agents at a time, both in the United States and in 18 countries in Europe (though AWS said it plans to expand to other areas in the following months).
"You pay for each contact center and each active phone call (inbound or outbound) on a per-minute basis," said AWS evangelist Jeff Barr in a blog post. "As part of the AWS Free Tier, you get 90 minutes of contact center usage, two phone numbers (DID and toll-free), 30 minutes of inbound DID calls, 30 minutes of inbound toll-free calls, and 30 minutes of outbound calls, all per month, for an entire year."
Amazon Connect also lets organizations customize their customers' call experiences using visual contact flows. These contact flows determine the next options available to a customer on an active call based on their individual needs, as well as relevant information mined from other AWS services. Those services include Amazon Lex, a relatively new AI technology that recognizes and interprets natural language; AWS Lambda, which lets organizations trigger specific code in response to a customer's information; Amazon S3, where Amazon Connect users can store recorded calls; and Amazon Kinesis, which funnels data from Amazon Connect to any supported data warehouse service to be analyzed.
In addition, customer service agents can log in using AWS Directory Services and monitor call center metrics in real time using Amazon CloudWatch.
Amazon Connect also integrates with a number of third-party customer relationship management (CRM) and helpdesk offerings, including those from Salesforce.com, Zendesk, SugarCRM, Pentaho, Twilio, Appian and Tableau.
"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," said Tom Weiland, vice president of worldwide customer service at Amazon.com, in a statement. "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. We're excited to offer this technology to customers as an AWS service -- with all of the simplicity, flexibility, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of the cloud."