What is Amazon Connect?

November 10, 2020

Amazon Connect is an easy to use omnichannel cloud Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) offered by Amazon Web Services. With Connect, you can deploy a basic contact center in minutes, powering agents who are located anywhere, and start engaging with customers immediately.

Out of the box with Connect, you can create personalized multi-channel experiences for your customers using the voice and chat channels. If you choose to use a different agent desktop there are options on the market to go full omnichannel by adding email and SMS.  It is assumed that native support for these additional features are on the roadmap, but can also presently be leveraged using the AWS ecosystem with some custom development.  From a reporting and analytics standpoint, Connect has an out of the box metrics platform that provides real-time and historical insights into your contact center. If graphical, data-rich dashboards are what you seek, AWS also has a robust Business Intelligence (BI) platform called QuickSight to help you deliver insights to everyone in your organization.

Amazon Connect is an open platform that integrates with other applications, such as Salesforce, Zendesk, ServiceNow, etc. Typically speaking, as long as the application has an open API it is likely it will work with Amazon Connect.  In addition, you can take advantage of the AWS ecosystem to create new experiences for your customers.

Amazon Connect Features:

  • Telephony – Amazon Connect provides a variety of choices to enable your company to make and receive telephone calls. One of the great advantages of Amazon Connect is AWS manages the telephony infrastructure for you: carrier connections, redundancy, and routing. And, it's designed to scale.
  • Chat – Amazon Connect allows your customers to start a chat with an agent or Amazon Lex bot, step away from it, and then resume the conversation again. They can even switch devices and continue the chat. It's an asynchronous interaction.
  • Routing Profiles – Amazon Connect uses routing profiles to allow you to manage your contact center at scale. To quickly change what a group of agents does, you only need to make an update in one place: the routing profile.
  • Queues
    • Standard and Agent - Standard queues are contacts wait before they are routed to and accepted by agents. Agent queues are created automatically when you add an agent to your contact center. Contacts are only routed to agent queues when explicitly sent there as part of a contact flow.
    • Priority and Delay - Priority and delay are powerful features that allow you to load balance contacts among groups of agents.
    • Queue-based Routing - In your business, you might want to route customers to specific agents based on certain criteria, such as the skill of the agent. This is called queue-based routing, also known as skills-based routing.
  • Channels and Concurrency - Agents can be available concurrently on voice and chat channels at the same time.
  • Contact Flows - A contact flow defines how a customer experiences your contact center from start to finish. At the most basic level, contact flows enable you to customize your IVR (interactive voice response) system.

The AWS ecosystem is very powerful and is actually used by most CCaaS solutions on the marketplace today including one of the mainstays, Genesys.  To help provide a better contact center, you can use Amazon Connect with other AWS services to build the perfect solution for you.

AWS has invested heavily into Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML), which Amazon Connect also leverages. 

Current AI and ML capabilities

  • Amazon Lex - Chatbots for both chat and Interactive Voice Response (IVR).
  • Amazon Polly - Provides text-to-speech in contact flows and many of their voices sound like a real human.
  • Amazon Transcribe - Takes voice recordings and transcribes them to text so you can review and analyze the data.
  • Amazon Comprehend - Leverages transcriptions and applies speech analytics machine learning to the call to identify sentiment, keywords, adherence to company policies, and more.

For many organizations, Connect is a powerful option that provides direct native access into the AWS ecosystem for your contact center, future-proofing your platform moving forward. As with every product however, Connect is not perfect. If your business lacks a strong DevOps team, or you just simply want the easy button approach to CCaaS, then Connect might not be for you.

One way Amazon Connect competes with other CCaaS solutions is by providing the underlying ecosystem, which encourages third party developers to build feature rich CTI desktops.  Companies with solutions on the market such as eGain, Salesforce Service Cloud Voice, and USAN for example have created products to address this feature gap, which sweetens the pot for organizations looking to wade into the AWS CCaaS waters.

In summary, Amazon Connect is a great platform with many strengths, least of which is the service runs on the largest Cloud Computing platform in the world. Of course, we always recommend researching multiple solutions when it comes time to evaluate CCaaS as a fit for your organization.

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