Plenty of companies have wished they had access to the same call center technology Amazon uses for its customer service centers. Now, they can. Today, Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced the launch of Amazon Connect, a self-service, cloud-based contact center technology service that is based on the same technology the company uses to power its own customer service operations.

According to the company, the service will allow enterprises to set up their own call center operations without having to invest heavily in proprietary hardware and software systems. Instead, Amazon's enterprise clients will be able to set up and configure their own "virtual contact centers" in a matter of minutes, offering better customer service at a lower cost.

Amazon Sells Its Special Sauce

Traditional contact centers have typically been complicated, expensive operations to set up, often taking months or even years to fully deploy. They often involve proprietary technologies that require special skills to operate, and frequently come with restrictive licensing agreements that can make it difficult for companies to scale their call center operations in response to changes in call volumes due to short-term promotions, seasonal spikes, or new product launches.

Amazon said that was the reason it decided to develop its own call center technology. "Ten years ago, we made the decision to build our own customer contact center technology from scratch because legacy solutions did not provide the scale, cost structure, and features we needed to deliver excellent customer service for our customers around the world," said Tom Weiland, vice president of worldwide customer service, Amazon, in a statement.

“This choice has been a differentiator for us, as it is used today by our agents around the world in the millions of interactions they have with our customers," he added. "We're excited to offer this technology to customers as an AWS service -- with all of the simplicity, flexibility, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of the cloud."

Natural Language Understanding

According to the company, Amazon Connect doesn't require any infrastructure to deploy or manage, so customers can scale their Amazon Connect virtual contact centers up or down, onboarding any number of agents in response to business cycles and paying only for the time callers interact with the service.

The platform features a self-service graphical interface that Amazon said makes it easy for non-technical users to design contact flows, manage agents, and track performance metrics, without the need for any specialized skills.

The new platform also makes it possible for enterprises to design contact flows that adapt the caller experience, the company said. Contact flows can change based on information retrieved by Amazon Connect from other AWS services or third-party systems including CRM (customer relationship management) or analytics solutions.

Businesses can also build natural language contact flows using Amazon Lex, an artificial intelligence service that has the same automatic speech recognition technology and natural language understanding that powers Amazon Alexa. Amazon Lex enables callers to say what they want instead of having to listen to long lists of menu options and guess which one is most closely related to what they want to do.