Cloud Providers & The Contact Center Market: How AWS & Their Competitors Are Approaching the CX Industry
By: Keith Blanco
For decades, the contact center industry has been dominated by traditional software, networking and outsourcing companies, with large enterprises often making decisions based on balancing the costs of customer service with the quality of customer experience, and looking at customer service at times as a “necessary evil” rather than a “great opportunity” to become more competitive.
Massive technological shifts, for example the transformation from fixed, circuit-based networks to Internet-based VoIP services, have dramatically lowered the cost of communications, spawned the offshore outsourcing industry, and have been driving telephony network configuration and even consolidation into the cloud.
This new world of possibilities supported by advanced software, platform and networking capabilities, has not been lost on “the challengers” – including Amazon, Twilio Flex and Talkdesk (three relatively new entrants to the space, which the incumbents including Genesys, NICE and Avaya, for example, have been forced to respond to).
Late last year, AWS announced Contact Lens for Amazon Connect, “a set of capabilities for Amazon Connect enabled by machine learning (ML) that gives contact center supervisors and analysts the ability to understand the content, sentiment, and trends of their customer conversations to identify crucial customer feedback and improve customer experience.”
Of course, Amazon, which is arguably the most successful “personalization” company in the world, given the runaway success of their marketplace, with millions of “Prime” members and disruptions including now one day or less delivery, is extremely well positioned to excel in the CX space, and with now years of development, adoption and reinvestment, are steadily growing their Amazon Connect omnichannel cloud contact center service based on the same technology.
Companies like Intuit, GE Appliances, Capital One, and Dow Jones use Amazon Connect to run their contact centers touting reduced cost and the ability to scale to support unlimited customer and agent interactions.
Contact Lens was designed to deliver accurate transcripts of all conversations, and search across them to identify issues, common themes, and opportunities for agent coaching. AWS writes about their latest offering that businesses “…can use existing contact center analytics offerings, but these tools are expensive, slow in providing call transcripts, and lack required transcription accuracy. This makes it difficult to quickly detect customer issues and provide actionable performance feedback to their agents. The inability of existing tools to provide real-time analytics also prevents supervisors from identifying and helping frustrated customers on in-progress calls before they hang up. Given these challenges, some companies tackle this themselves by hiring data scientists and programmers to apply machine learning techniques and manage custom applications over time.”
Contact Lens is an “add on” service (which can be provisioned with a few clicks by existing AWS customers to “easily turn on a set of ML-powered analytics features as part of an out-of-the-box experience that empowers their contact center staff to easily use the power of machine learning…”
You can learn more about Contact Lens and AWS Connect here. Clearly AWS never stops innovating and can do so more efficiently given the power of their cloud offering and platform approach. The incumbents are watching.
Twilio Flex is a more recent entrant into the CX Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) space and position their disruptive offering as “fully programmable.” Part of Twilio, a fast-growing company that provides cloud-based services by the seat and by the hour (with no hardware or other Capex investments required up front), Twilio Flex is cloud-based, omnichannel and highly customizable. They are different from AWS and others in that they have designed a system that supports both traditional voice (connection to the PSTN making their services available in over 180 countries) and of course VoIP, which makes it possible to embed real time communications into web and mobile applications.
The platform supports SMS, chat, social media and other “over-the-top” real time applications including Line and WhatsApp, with APIs that enable developers to create their own “combinations” without having to master complicated voice networks. Twilio Flex is described by the company as being able to “make every element of the contact center work for you by adjusting the agent interface, conversation routing, reports, etc.” with an intuitive user interface. You can learn more about Twilio Flex here.
Twilio is “giving it away” – literally – to lure prospective clients away from the incumbents, with a free 5,000 hour demo, which they say can support a pilot with a team of 5 agents for up to one month, operating 8 – 12 hours a day. This is its own disruption, and while the uptake has been impressive, like AWS, companies need expertise to not only assess the viability of moving to platforms like this, but also the expertise to design and implement a “digital transformation” to optimize the ultimate value of these more fluid and flexible alternatives to incumbent technology.
There are dozens more companies rolling out similar cloud-based, AI-infused, ML-driven platforms and services, which the Eventus team tracks closely, while also following the innovations across the entire spectrum of CX enablement companies.
We pride ourselves at Eventus in our expertise, experience and awareness of how the CX industry is evolving and bring to our clients the intelligence and vision they seek as they benefit from investing in delivering the best service and experience to their customers. We embraced the cloud long before most companies, and our own investment in understanding and applying innovation continues to pay off in 2020, as we build on our biggest year ever in 2019.
Please contact me to learn more.
It can be hard to fathom a life without customer service in it. Before remote desktop support, live chat and other contact center solutions, there were complex phone trees and outsourced call centers and before that there were buggy IVR systems and telephone switchboards connecting you to the store you purchased the product from.
The past few decades have seen the business world sway multiple times between call center outsourcing and internal call center operations.