A few weeks ago I heard a rumor that Amazon was preparing to enter the customer contact center market. According to the rumor, Amazon’s solution would utilize the speech recognition and natural language processing tools that support its Alexa Web Service and Lex products. I was a bit surprised to hear that Amazon was interested in the customer service and self-service market given the competitive nature of the landscape.
This week Amazon confirmed the rumor with the official announcement of Amazon Connect. The service, currently available only in the U.S., touts a full-featured customer contact center that runs atop Amazon’s proven AWS cloud-based computing platform. According to the press release, a company can set up a contact center with just a few clicks and then pay by the minute for actual usage, foregoing the lock-in of long-term contracts.
Businesses using Amazon Connect have access to a graphical interface to design contact flows according to their unique processes, without the need for expensive consulting services. They can also leverage Amazon’s Lex, the ASR and NLP technology powering Alexa, to enable their customers to use natural language when engaging with the contact center either via voice or text.
Todd Bishop covered the Amazon announcement in an article on Geekwire. That article has links to two Amazon videos that provide further details of the new service. One video features Amazon’s Jeff Barr, who explains that Amazon Connect offers an IVR, adaptive analytics that can help predict a customer’s needs, natural language interactions, and skills-based call routing. From the sound of it, Amazon is offering a enterprise intelligent assistant solution to compete with other vendors in that market.
The Amazon press release showcases several customers already using its new contact center service. Amazon Connect integrates with many leading CRM solutions, while taking advantage of the AWS platform and accompanying microservices with which many businesses are already familiar. With continued pressure to move to the cloud, Amazon’s comprehensive contact center solution seems compelling.
Will Amazon’s announcement prove disruptive for the automated customer service and enterprise intelligent assistant market? That remains to be seen. But leveraging the technological fruits of its AWS and Alexa platforms to provide a fully cloud-based, natural language-capable contact center seems like a smart move for the retail and technology giant.
A slightly different version of this article was first posted on the Opus Research blog.