Aug. 8, 2023 | Tools & Tech

How Amazon Connect helps build contact center modernization

How Amazon Connect helps build contact center modernization

For the first time since arriving on the scene, Amazon Web Service’s (AWS) Amazon Connect was named a "leader" in Forrester's Q1 2023 Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) providers report
Evaluated in a group of 11 significant CCaaS providers, Amazon Connect shares the leader designation with just two others—quite the progression for a platform that was initially regarded as not very feature-rich. This accolade excites our Service Excellence consultants because we’ve seen the transformative impact of Amazon Connect firsthand through our own internal support teams and on client delivery engagements. 
As businesses migrate their contact centers from on-premise tools to cloud-based platforms—and look for options outside a bankrupt Avaya —Amazon Connect is a strong contender for contact center modernization. Here’s why: 

Pay-As-You-Go Pricing Model

Amazon Connect has a modern usage-based, pay-as-you-go pricing model. That’s right! There are no licenses and you only pay for resources you use. While license-based models work well for businesses that have smooth call volumes and handle times, others that experience peaks and valleys in contact center volume can benefit greatly from the pay-as-you-go model. 
This model frees businesses from contractual obligations and lengthy procurement processes that can hinder quick scaling. This is a paradigm shift in contact center platforms—as most are license and usage-based. While the model still means increased fees for high usage periods, it conversely means low volume periods won’t have you paying a contractual fee when you have fewer agents working or customers calling. Pay-as-you-go can also allow businesses to take advantage of this pricing model to stand up a new contact center with minimal risk. 
Considering a technology change? Amazon Connect makes it simple and cost-efficient to run a pilot with a few agents since you’re only paying for what you use. In just six weeks, we set up a contact center for a customer that included complex features such as CRM integration and voicemail. A simpler implementation could take even less time and be completed as a quick, in-house initiative before scaling!

Customer-Centric with Rapid Innovation

Amazon Connect’s origin story is rapid innovation. Amazon needed a tool for Prime Day that could support rapid scaling, so it built its own after not seeing one in the market. Amazon has maintained this spirit with Amazon Connect as they roll out frequent, typically easy to enable, and customer-centric features. 
Most recently, our team was energized by the new machine learning-powered Forecasting, Scheduling, and Capacity Planning module.  Leveraging historical data, businesses can generate forecasts for call volumes and average handle time (AHT), input “what-if” scenarios with altered variables to drive capacity planning, and schedule their workforce—all from within Amazon Connect. 
It's an innovative, supportive workforce management tool that lends credibility to Amazon Connect’s usage-based model. This meets two core contact center needs: predictable staffing and predictable budget.

Power and Flexibility of AWS

While Amazon itself regularly adds new features, Amazon Connect’s foundation in AWS enables businesses to drive internal innovation within the platform. The full AWS suite includes a product set that allows you to scale all aspects of your call center for extensive customization and offers a wide range of possibilities. 
For example, Amazon Lex allows for natural language understanding within Interactive Voice Response (IVR). AWS Lambdas can be invoked by a customer selection in the IVR to retrieve data or trigger actions from external systems, eliminating data silos and enabling self-service (spoiler alert: Salesforce Service Cloud Voice has prebuilt Lambdas—yet another reason we love Amazon Connect). 
As an example of AWS’s power and flexibility, our consultants utilized Amazon S3, a cloud object storage offering, and AWS Lambdas to develop a customized “Connect Essentials” package for customers who required additional features not currently available in Amazon Connect. This package enables management of common tasks like setting holiday and business hours with custom messaging, generating post call surveys to understand agent effectiveness, adding spam and unwanted callers to a blocklist, and many more features aiding contact center operations. 
While some advanced AWS features may require hiring individuals with an AWS development skillset, many organizations with less complex business requirements are able to utilize the features and suite of services easily.

Integration with Salesforce Service Cloud Voice

A common challenge for contact centers is siloed service channels. While Amazon Connect has phone and chat channels, many businesses also service their customers with digital and self-service capabilities. Through Salesforce and AWS’s strategic partnership, Service Cloud Voice enables streamlined, low-code configuration, native integration processes, and analytics. Salesforce has long-supported Computer Telephony Integrations (CTI), but Service Cloud Voice stands out with its ability to seamlessly integrate into the broader suite of Service Cloud features and channels. This integration helps create a best-in-class experience for agents handling multiple communication channels and their supervisors as incoming calls are matched to customers and routed based on call content or customer profiles. 
Does your company have a loyalty program based on sales data? Route loyalty customers to a preferred queue when they call, configure a screen-pop to show the caller’s recent purchases to the agent, or surface Salesforce customer data in the IVR to enable customers to self-serve (through those pre-built Lambdas mentioned earlier). While the pay-as-you-go model still applies to usage of Amazon Connect with Service Cloud Voice, licenses are required so agents can receive calls in Salesforce.  
These are just a few of the (many) highlights on how Amazon Connect is key in contact center modernization. If any of this sounds intriguing, our team is always available to nerd out more about transformational contact center change. 
Amazon Connect is accessible to a range of companies, from the start-up just getting its customer service organization up-and-running to an enterprise company with decades of data in Salesforce and other external applications. As contact center technology continues to innovate and become more digital, we’re excited to see the service transform and modernize contact center operations of many businesses over the coming years.

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Lexa Koenig

Lexa Koenig

Lexa is a principal in West Monroe’s Customer Solutions practice.

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