Today at AWS re:Invent, Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an Amazon.com company (NASDAQ: AMZN), announced five new capabilities for AWS’s rapidly-growing contact center service, Amazon Connect, that significantly improve contact center agent productivity and end-user customer experiences. Amazon Connect is easy to use, quick to deploy, and highly scalable (up to tens of thousands of agents) to help companies of any size deliver superior customer service at a lower cost. Thousands of companies like John Hancock, Capital One, Intuit, Best Western, Fujitsu, Origin Energy, GE Appliances, Square, Mutual of Omaha, National Australia Bank, New York Times, and Dow Jones use Amazon Connect to dramatically improve service and support experiences for their customers. The capabilities announced today give agents the right information at the right time, provide more personalized service, help managers impact customer interactions during calls, make it faster to authenticate customers more securely, and make customer follow-up tasks easier to manage. These capabilities are powered by AWS’s machine learning technology, require no technical expertise to use, and are available as features within Amazon Connect. To get started with Amazon Connect, visit https://aws.amazon.com/connect/
Contact center agents are on the frontline of customer service, but legacy contact center solutions fail to help them deliver truly excellent customer experiences. Today’s solutions are expensive, hard to set up, and don’t scale well. Companies often have to invest in complex, proprietary hardware and software systems that take months or years to deploy, require specialized skills to configure, and can’t scale up and down as call volumes fluctuate. Even when organizations manage to set up legacy on-premises or homegrown systems, they often require complex coding to make basic changes, so they quickly become outdated and are hard to maintain. These are challenges and opportunities that Amazon understands well in its own business. Amazon built the world’s most scalable, functional, and cost-effective call center service to manage the dramatic growth and scale of Amazon’s retail business. Over the years, customers have asked AWS if it would build an external call center service using the DNA of Amazon’s own service. Amazon Connect does this by generalizing Amazon's call center software into a service that reinvents the contact center customer experience from the ground up on the cloud and with embedded machine learning. With Amazon Connect, organizations get a contact center that can be configured and set up in minutes, requires no infrastructure to deploy or manage, is easy to use, scales up and down as call volumes change, and is much more cost effective because companies only pay for the time agents are actually interacting with customers.
The five new Amazon Connect capabilities launching today deliver on AWS customers’ key asks – improving their agents’ productivity and providing even better customer experiences.
- Agent assistance (available in preview): Amazon Connect Wisdom gives agents the information they need to solve issues in real time. In order to serve customers with the best possible experience, agents need a wide range of product and service information at their fingertips. Unfortunately, this information is often scattered in various databases and silos inside of the company or within third-party software. As a result, agents lose a lot of time trying to access the information they need to help customers in the moment. Wisdom ingests and organizes knowledge content that agents need (e.g. FAQs, help articles, PDFs, etc.) from both homegrown databases and third-party knowledge repositories, with pre-built connectors to Salesforce and ServiceNow. Wisdom uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to detect customer issues during the call and subsequently recommends relevant content stored in the knowledge repositories. For example, Wisdom can detect when a customer says “arrived broken.” After hearing that prompt, Wisdom will automatically display instructions within the Amazon Connect agent application for exchanging an item, including specific answers and links to relevant content. Additionally, agents can use machine learning-powered search to get an answer to a question or phrase as a customer is speaking. For example, an agent could type “how long after an item is purchased can it be exchanged,” and Wisdom will search all of the data stores and return a precise answer with links that allow the agent to dive deeper. Wisdom empowers agents with the right information, at the right time, so that they can more quickly and effectively resolve customer issues.
- Customer profiles (available today): Amazon Connect Customer Profiles ensures agents have a more unified profile of each customer so they can provide more personalized service during a call. Content about customer activity and experiences, like product and service information, is often spread across various databases and user interfaces in homegrown applications and third-party services. In some cases, agents need to toggle between as many as 10 different applications to find customer information like contact details, purchase history, and ticket status. By having more of a customer’s relevant information—as well as a more holistic picture of their status—in one place, customer service agents can provide more thoughtful guidance and service to end-users. When a customer calls, Customer Profiles scans and matches the customer records across multiple applications for unique identifiers like phone numbers or account IDs. Customer Profiles combines contact history information from Amazon Connect (e.g. number of holds, transcripts, customer sentiment, etc.) with customer information from Customer Relationship Management (CRM), e-commerce, and order management applications into a unified customer profile that is displayed in the Amazon Connect agent application at the moment a call or chat starts. For example, a customer service agent at a hotel who receives a call from a customer complaining about a bad night’s stay would also be able to see that the same customer asked the hotel to provide a quote for their company’s three-day executive offsite, and this broader perspective might change how the agent approaches the call (e.g. they might offer the customer an executive suite for their upcoming stay). AWS customers can connect to other homegrown applications using Amazon Connect’s Software Development Kit (SDK) and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). AWS customers can also use pre-built connectors to third-party applications like Marketo, Salesforce, ServiceNow, and Zendesk directly from the Amazon Connect console.
- Real-time analytics (available today): Real-Time Contact Lens for Amazon Connect provides a new capability to impact customer interactions during a call. Contact Lens for Amazon Connect (announced last year at re:Invent) helps customers analyze contacts by providing a call transcript that shows what the agent and caller said, performing sentiment analysis with a positive or negative score, and detecting key words, phrases, or other analysis criteria like silence or people talking over one another. Since Contact Lens’ launch, AWS customers have enjoyed the ability to easily analyze completed calls, but they also want the ability to impact customer interactions during live calls to prevent negative experiences. Real-Time Contact Lens makes it easy for contact center managers to do exactly this. Contact center managers can create rules to flag customer issues using keywords (e.g. “not happy," "poor product quality," "cancel," etc.) or sentiment analysis (e.g. negative sentiment, voices being raised, etc.). Managers receive real-time alerts when their specified conditions are met so they can provide guidance or have the agent transfer the call. When a call is transferred, the agent can pass the real-time transcript with conversational details like sentiment to the next agent or manager, so a customer doesn’t need to repeat themselves when the manager gets up to speed. Real-Time Contact Lens gives managers the ability to know when customer interactions are going poorly, and it gives them the ability to impact the call before harm is done to the brand.
- Task automation and management (available today): Amazon Connect Tasks automates, tracks, and manages tasks for contact center agents, improving agent productivity by up to 30%. Today, nearly half of an agent’s time is spent on follow-up service tasks in external applications like CRMs and their own business-specific solutions. For example, a contact center agent for an insurance company who is following up on a new claim needs to collect customer documents over email, create a case ticket in a claims-processing application, schedule an appointment with an adjuster, and notify the customer of status updates on the claim. Agents often rely on memory or hand-written notes to keep track of these tasks and follow-up items, which not only reduces productivity, but also creates a risk that customer-impacting tasks are missed entirely. Amazon Connect Tasks helps companies improve agent efficiency, automate repetitive work, and lower costs. Tasks provides companies with pre-built connectors to CRM applications (e.g. Salesforce and Zendesk) and APIs to integrate with homegrown applications. With Tasks, managers can assign and prioritize tasks to agents based on agent availability and skill set, and the tasks are displayed to agents in the same Amazon Connect interface that they use to view their call and chat interactions. When assigned a task, agents see a notification along with the description of the task and links to any applications that the agents might need to complete the task. Agents can also create tasks on their own to track their own follow-up work (e.g. updating a customer profile). Managers can also create workflows to automate tasks that don’t require agent interaction (e.g. notifying a customer that their claim has been processed), so that agents can spend more time interacting with customers.
- Caller authentication (available in preview): Amazon Connect Voice ID provides real-time caller authentication using machine learning-powered voice analysis. Prior to today, contact centers had to use knowledge-based authentication processes, where callers had to answer multiple questions based on personal details like social security number, date of birth, and mother’s maiden name, which is time-consuming and can be exploited for fraud. Voice ID provides real-time caller authentication without disrupting natural conversation. With Voice ID, callers are given the option to authenticate themselves by using their voice, offering them an additional layer of security against fraud and saving them from the hassle of having to answer multiple questions to verify their identity. When a caller opts in, Voice ID analyzes the caller’s speech attributes (e.g. rhythm, pitch, or tone) during the first few seconds of the call, and then creates a digital voiceprint for the caller. When the caller calls in again, Voice ID compares the caller’s voiceprint to the claimed identity and authenticates a caller based on a Voice ID confidence score. This all happens in the first few seconds of a call, when an agent gets on the call and asks the caller to state their identity and reason for calling. If the caller doesn’t meet the confidence score threshold set by the organization, an agent can verify their identity through additional screening like knowledge-based or transfer the call to a fraud specialist. With real-time caller authentication, Amazon Connect Voice ID makes contact centers more secure, provides a better customer experience, and improves the productivity of agents.
“Amazon Connect is one of the fastest growing services in the history of AWS, and has clearly struck a chord with customers,” said Pasquale DeMaio, General Manager, Amazon Connect, Amazon Web Services, Inc. “Amazon Connect is the most flexible, scalable, cost-effective, and inventive call center service, in part because it was built from the ground up on the cloud with machine learning deeply embedded to automatically manage features like Interactive Voice Response (IVR), chatbots, call analytics, and sentiment analysis. Today’s five new Connect features build on this foundation to make it even easier for customer service agents to have the information they need to provide faster and more holistic customer experiences, optimize agents’ time based on what matters most, and enable customer service managers to take action in real time to avoid contacts that will do harm to their brand.”
Best Western Hotels & Resorts has over 4,500 hotels worldwide. “At Best Western® Hotels & Resorts we strive to lead the hospitality industry in superior customer care, and that extends to the experience our customers have when they call our contact center,” said Troy Tracy, Best Western Hotels & Resorts’ Sr. Manager of Network and Contact Center Engineering. “Amazon Connect equips our agents with more information about the caller, allowing them to deliver personalized experiences for our guests. With Amazon Connect’s new machine learning-powered capabilities we are able to help callers more efficiently and effectively, providing the high standard of customer service that we are known for around the globe. We are excited to use Amazon Connect Profiles, Wisdom, Tasks, Voice ID, and Contact Lens for Amazon Connect, and believe they will deliver added-value for our guests.”
John Hancock is dedicated to providing innovative life insurance, investment, retirement, and advice to help customers reach their goals. “At John Hancock, we care a lot about our customers' retirement goals. We handle tens of thousands of calls per week and our agents spend a ton of time searching through our wikis, repositories, and homegrown knowledge management systems for answers to critical financial questions,” said Michael McCrillis, Director of Enterprise IT at John Hancock. “Amazon Connect Wisdom will let our agents use ML-powered search across all of our existing knowledge repositories to find the right answers for customers. We are also excited that Wisdom automatically provides real-time answers to customer questions, quotes, and product specifications right within Amazon Connect during the call. Wisdom will help our agents solve customer inquiries faster, and could help significantly reduce Average Handle Time, thus creating a more seamless and positive customer experience.”
Traeger Grills has been the outdoor cooking choice of food enthusiasts. “At Traeger, our mission is to help create a more flavorful world. Our customers are passionate about their grills. We handle tens of thousands of contact center contacts every month where people have questions on everything from grill care to WiFi connectivity. Our Traeger Techs used to spend a ton of time navigating multiple systems to find customer data,” said Lizzy Mitchell, Head of Customer Experience Analytics at Traeger Grills. “Amazon Connect Customer Profiles seamlessly aggregates information from our e-commerce/marketing systems, Salesforce Service Cloud, Google/Adobe Analytics, and Qualtrics. Now, when agents are connected to our customers, Amazon Connect automatically surfaces a unified customer profile that shows who is calling, their contact history, purchase history, and grill type. Our agents no longer have to toggle between applications to find information that helps provide a world-class customer experience. Since implementing Amazon Connect Customer Profiles, we’ve seen a ~25% reduction in handle time and a ~10% increase in CSAT.”
The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services promotes child safety and offers prevention services to strengthen families. It also connects children with stable, loving homes in times of need. “Our Child Protection Hotline agents are vital to helping the most populous U.S. county, with more than 10 million people, navigate difficult domestic challenges such as child abuse reports, investigations, and foster care. Contact Lens for Amazon Connect makes our life a lot easier because we’re able to look at patterns, trends, and predictions that help guide our work,” said Carlos Torres, Division Chief for Los Angeles County’s Child Protection Hotline. “We are excited at the prospect of enabling the real-time capabilities of Contact Lens for Amazon Connect so that caller analytics and real-time alerts will – at a future time – be delivered live in our Amazon Connect supervisor dashboard so that we can help our agents navigate these difficult situations, without requiring supervisors to be there in-person, or listening to every call.”
Perspecta brings a diverse set of capabilities to our U.S. government customers in defense, intelligence, civilian, health care, and state and local markets. “From mission services to digital transformation to enterprise operations, everything we do supports one imperative: solving some of the country’s most complex challenges. The Amazon Connect contact center solution provides a robust backbone that supports our customers’ missions. We use Contact Lens for Amazon Connect to analyze post-call metrics, sentiment, and trends to understand our customer better and provide superior, proactive service,” said Mike Kirkland, senior vice president of offerings at Perspecta. “We're excited for Contact Lens for Amazon Connect's new real-time capabilities, which will allow us to detect customer experience issues during live calls so supervisors can jump in to provide immediate support, and improve the first call resolution rate by 25%, while reducing overall volume and costs by 5%.”
AnswerConnect is a virtual receptionist answering service, providing businesses with cost-effective customer support and callers with a real voice in every call. “Amazon Connect provides our virtual receptionists, businesses, and their customers with reliable support, 24/7. And now that extends beyond just answering calls. Our virtual receptionists spend up to two hours per day outside of telephone interactions on other contact center work, including everything from responding to open tickets to filling out forms. Typically, this would require interacting with multiple vendors and applications to do something as simple as sending an email,” said Abilash Amarasekaran, Cloud Engineer for FULL Creative (the parent company of AnswerConnect). “With Amazon Connect Tasks, we can prioritize and assign work items to agents based on urgency. Also, Amazon Connect Tasks automates laborious tasks that don’t require agent work such as notifying a customer of a form submission or updating a ticket. For a contact center with over 900 agents, we spend an enormous amount of time on these operational tasks. Amazon Connect Tasks saves our virtual receptionists vital hours and improves productivity by 15%.”
Fujitsu is an innovative, global information technology and services provider that helps organizations across multiple industries thrive in the modern digital world by driving new value from cutting-edge digital technologies. “At Fujitsu, our IT services exist to keep our customers’ businesses running, and Amazon Connect empowers 5,300 of our contact center agents to better serve customers. Outside the 300,000 interactions our agents handle each month, they have to spend hours each day on additional tasks such as resolving open emails and tickets. This is a manual, time consuming process that often leaves important tasks incomplete,” said Alex Sanchez, Head of Global GDC Networks for Fujitsu. “Amazon Connect Tasks will allow our agents to prioritize, assign, and track all tasks. Through connectors to external applications such as Salesforce, Amazon Lex chatbots, and Amazon Pinpoint, we can automate tasks like follow-ups to customers. With Amazon Connect Tasks we expect our agent productivity to improve 30% and expect to refine our customer experience even further with other Amazon Connect innovations.”
Accolade is a personalized health and benefits solution that serves employers across the country. “Amazon Connect has been a critical driver behind the modernization efforts to improve our customer experience. By using Amazon Connect Voice ID to streamline caller authentication, we want to make voice interactions more secure and help customers resolve their issues quickly without having to answer multiple security questions,” said Stephen Murphy, the Senior Director Cloud Engineering at Accolade. “Amazon Connect Voice ID is compelling because customers can enroll or verify their stated identity without having to say any specific words or phrases. Our contact center team is looking forward to using this new secure authentication feature of Amazon Connect.”
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Source: Amazon Web Services, Inc.