• April 1, 2018

The 2018 CRM Service Rising Stars: Amazon

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Amazon, the 23-year-old online retail, consumer electronics, and cloud computing giant, is one of the world’s biggest and most diversified companies, its success recently earning CEO Jeff Bezos the title of richest person in history. It has pioneered customer service delivery since the beginning, so it seems counterintuitive to call the company a “Rising Star.” 

The designation is well-earned this year, though, due to the March 2017 launch of Amazon Connect, a suite of cloud-based contact center services. With Connect, Amazon is helping other companies leverage its artificial intelligence (AI) tools to power their own customer service—essentially bringing the abilities of its Alexa intelligent assistant to their contact centers.

“Alexa’s ability to learn makes the technology powerful,” Cindy Zhou, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, told SmartCustomerService.com at the time of the launch. “The experience is much more than just pressing one for billing or two for tech support. It can be conversational, and more of a give-and-take than what a customer might get from a typical IVR interaction.”

Released by Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing division, Amazon Connect includes a variety of services and tools: the ability to set up a virtual contact center in minutes, with a self-service graphical interface that helps users design contact flows, manage agents, and track performance metrics; dynamic call routing and real-time historical analysis of calls; and Lex, an AI-powered conversational chatbot that uses the same automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology and natural language understanding (NLU) as Alexa. Amazon first introduced Lex at the close of 2016.

Users also benefit from Connect’s ability to integrate with a broad set of other AWS tools and infrastructure—whether recording calls in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) or using Amazon Kinesis to stream contact center metrics to Amazon S3. 

Connect integrates with leading CRM, workforce management, analytics, and helpdesk offerings from Appian, Calabrio, Freshdesk, Pindrop, Salesforce.com, SugarCRM, Tableau, Twilio, Zendesk, and Zoho. 

And other integrations have followed, with NICE’s CXone workforce optimization suite in September, USAN’s visual IVR a month later, and DialogTech’s call analytics in December. 

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