AWS takes on Zendesk with Amazon Connect, productizes Amazon’s in-house contact center software


AWS continues to add yet more software and services to build out its revenues and touchpoints with businesses that already use its cloud infrastructure for storage and to host and administer services and apps. The latest product, launching today, is Amazon Connect, a cloud-based contact center solution. AWS said it is based on the same tech that Amazon itself has built and uses in-house “to power millions of customer conversations.”

In doing this, Amazon is going head-to-head with a number of companies that offer different aspects of cloud-based contact center solutions, including Zoho, Zendesk, Freshdesk, and many more, and that’s in addition to a number of solutions that are not cloud based but incorporate outsourcing or in-house teams. As with other AWS solutions (and Amazon as a whole), it will hope to wedge itself a place in the market with ultra-competitive (read: cheap) pricing: in addition to no up-front costs, there is no long-term contracts to sign and (as you would expect with a cloud service) no infrastructure.

The core of this service is a “Virtual Contact Center” that Amazon claims can be set up “in minutes” and requires no special training to use. It also integrates with other existing AWS services to source data, including Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon Redshift, or Amazon Aurora, as well as third-party CRM services: Salesforce is among the companies that has already announced an integration.

It also incorporates some of Amazon’s newest innovations in natural language voice and other services to build automated responses that also integrate with other services like Amazon Alexa to support users.

“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, Amazon, 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.”

Among early customers are GE Appliances, communications company Bandwidth, and AnswerConnect.

“We need to be available for our customers 24/7/365, no matter what,” said Natalie Fung, CEO of AnswerConnect, in a statement. “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.”

Other services that AWS launched include the productivity and communications suite Chime; the acquisition of Thinkbox Software, which makes tools for professional video editors, and Cloud9, based on an acquisition in July 2016 that is used for building developer tools for AWS to work between web and mobile.

 

Featured Image: Amazon

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