With the pandemic forcing much of the world away from their offices and back home, the way we stay in contact with businesses has gone through a significant shift.
One perhaps unexpected beneficiary of these changes has been the much-maligned contact center. With shoppers unable to carry out returns or even ask a question as high street stores closed across the world, contact centers took on a whole new level of importance.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) has long been a strong supporter of the work done by contact centers, with the company’s Amazon Connect platform helping power such facilities for companies across the globe.
Although it was initially launched before the pandemic, Amazon Connect has really come into its own in the last two years, Pasquale DeMaio, General Manager of Amazon Connect, told us at the recent AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas.
“Amazon Connect was built to allow for agents to be remote,” he said. “Connect was a little ahead of its time, [as] from day one we were designed to be fully cloud multi-tenant and also an enabled remote workforce.”
Following the initial spate of lockdown and shutdown orders across the globe, the company leapt into action to help its customers deal with the unprecedented change.
DeMaio says that 5,000 contact centers were set up using Amazon Connect in just March and April 2020, some in just a few hours.
“That was unheard of, to take a production workload in a single day,” he explained. “Historically you would have to hire very bespoke, professional services to build those types of things. And you would have to give a huge upfront commitments to it."
"Instead, now you're in control and that brings that time down to weeks or months.”
Amazon Connect saw a number of useful upgrades announced at AWS re:Invent 2021, perhaps the most intriguing being Amazon Lex Automated Chatbot Designer, a new capability that reduces bot design from weeks to hours, simplifying design with advanced natural language understanding.
DeMaio highlighted how using this new platform shows the importance of automation, as the tool can condense much of the contact center set-up experience, taking out time-consuming tasks and cutting out the most challenging issue for customers.
“This is giving you a massive jump,” he said, "you're getting up and running really fast and you can continue to innovate on it too because you're not stuck with just what you did. You keep learning and keep going and building these out and that innovation has been really compelling to folks who use Connect.”
So it seems that if you truly want your business to meet as many customers as possible, a contact center powered by Amazon Connect could be a vital tool.
DeMaio predicts that the increasing use of AI in the contact center industry is only set to grow, and that his platform can help spur on a revolution in customer relationships.
“The nature of customer service was already changing,” he noted. “The reality is people are just demanding better customer service - and this was certainly true during the pandemic - it changed their expectations about how the customer service would be delivered.”
“I think there is a revolution happening right now, with the AI and in the cloud-based technology that Connect offers,” added DeMaio. “This radically changes the way people can deliver the quality of customer service they had and it certainly made a practical point [to companies] that it might be the right time to make those investments.”
“They recognize that the power of a great outcome is really meaningful to people because sadly they've had other bad experiences in the past. A big part of what we're doing with Amazon Connect is taking these these capabilities, making it super simple to use, streamline the experience, and fitting it into exactly what they're doing.”
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Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.