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AWS Amazon Connect adds case management tools

The AWS contact center as a service, Amazon Connect, previews tools to manage cases. The features will drive more self-service workflows based on case data.

AWS contact-center-as-a-service users now have case management and ticketing tools to organize views for complex customer interactions and inform self-service workflows.

Case-management tools makes sense for AWS customers building contact centers in the cloud, because the cloud "obliterates silos baked into enterprise IT and communications infrastructures," said Dan Miller, founder of Opus Research. The new features, called Amazon Connect Cases, will be particularly useful for those using Amazon Connect as an agent workspace provider, because it is simple to deploy, he added.

Amazon Connect Cases also makes AWS more of a competitor with ServiceNow and Salesforce -- companies AWS partners with to provide telephony for their respective cloud contact centers. Connect's growing functionality from a bundle of services to a full-fledged contact center as a service (CCaaS) has made some of those partners rethink their telephony strategies.

"Amazon Connect is like a heat-seeking missile in front of the full capabilities of AWS," Miller said. Although four of the top five CCaaS vendors use AWS resources such as telephony to underpin their applications, some -- including Genesys -- now have moved to what they call a "multi-cloud" strategy.

'Coopetition' heats up

AWS makes the argument that keeping customer data, notes and progress reports in Amazon Connect Cases will make it easier to manage customer issues that require multiple engagements, such as billing issues, defective product returns and service changes. Agents won't have to switch among applications to do their work or pass a case on to a colleague, as they often do now.

Case management data that resides in AWS can also be used to route calls to the appropriate agent, inform interactive voice response systems, and provide a foundation to develop personalized self-service workflows.

The company's partnerships with other CCaaS providers remains strong -- especially Salesforce, which resells Amazon Connect as part of its Service Cloud Voice offering, said Annie Weinberger, AWS' head of business applications product marketing. Some joint AWS and Salesforce users integrate Salesforce CRM data into Amazon Connect, and others plug Amazon Connect telephony into Salesforce Service Cloud.

But Amazon Connect is finding its own way into the marketplace, Weinberger said. It found new government users during the pandemic, as cities and states needed sophisticated cloud contact center tools they could quickly set up to provide services to their constituents.

Many businesses that previously didn't have a contact center -- even restaurants, which set them up for customers to place orders to a remote worker -- suddenly found themselves in need of one. , Weinberger said Amazon Connect provided a choice that didn't require paying the upfront seat licensing fees that some vendors require.

"The way that we think about traditional call centers and contact centers has really been turned on its head," Weinberger said.

Amazon Connect Cases
Amazon Connect Cases aggregates the contacts associated with a customer ticket so agents can track progress in solving it, as well as assign tasks.

Outbound communication features, chatbot designer released

AWS also released Amazon Connect outbound campaigns and Amazon Lex Automated Chatbot Designer, both of which were previewed last year.

Consumer privacy regulations and other market changes -- such as Apple giving iOS users the right to shut off cross-app tracking and the slow death of the third party cookie -- has made outbound marketing more difficult. Robocalls find it harder to get through to their targets, with Apple and even Zoom releasing better call filtering.

Telemarketing in general has been much more tightly regulated since the National Do Not Call Registry went into effect in the 1990s, Miller said. Yet businesses still use outbound communications to market offers -- as long as they can prove they have a prior relationship with a customer -- and also for non-marketing purposes such as appointment reminders, payment reminders and delivery notifications.

"These are applications for a cloud-based contact center that meet the [regulatory] prerequisite of 'an existing customer,'" Miller said. Amazon Connect establishes those relationships in the data its users create, he added.

Amazon Connect's outbound messaging spans voice, email and text. It also can be configured to business or regulatory requirements such as calling controls for time-of-day, time zone, number of attempts per contact and duration to connect to an available agent.

AWS released these features in conjunction with Customer Contact Week conference in Las Vegas. Amazon Lex Automated Chatbot Designer is priced at $0.50/chatbot training minute; outbound calling, depending on volume, is priced $0.018 to $0.025 per minute. New customers can get a limited amout of outbound calling within their regions for free.

Don Fluckinger covers enterprise content management, CRM, marketing automation, e-commerce, customer service and enabling technologies for TechTarget.

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