Amazon announces new tools for its cloud-hosted call center software

Machine learning-powered information retrieval for agents, voice-based caller ID and high-volume outbound communications are all coming to Amazon Connect.

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Amazon Connect, AWS‘ cloud-based call center solution, is adding three new features the company said will “improve contact center agent productivity and provide superior service by making customer interactions more effective, personal and natural.”

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Amazon also made Connect subscriber numbers available for the first time, saying that it is supporting “tens of thousands of AWS customers,” and “more than 10 million contact center interactions a day.”

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Connect is designed to overcome many of the shortcomings of traditional call center setups, namely infrastructure investment, electricity bills, setup and maintenance time and more. Like many AWS cloud solutions, Connect has the advantage of only billing for time agents spend on the phone with customers, and it can be scaled based on immediate needs.

The first of the new features revealed by Amazon at Enterprise Connect is Amazon Connect Wisdom, a machine learning product that uses customer speech and agent questions to automatically bring up relevant information for the call center agent. As an example, Amazon cites a case where “Amazon Connect can detect when a customer says ‘arrived broken’ to an agent, and Amazon Connect Wisdom automatically displays instructions in the Amazon Connect agent application for exchanging an item.”

Call center agents will also be able to use Amazon Connect Wisdom to search knowledge repositories for answers to more complicated questions or to quickly find things that speech recognition isn’t detecting.

The second feature, Amazon Connect Voice ID, affects both call center agents and the customers who call in. Connect Voice ID is a machine learning tool that uses voice analysis to build a digital voiceprint for callers that opt in to it. That digital voiceprint can be used in lieu of having to enter a phone number or other form of ID to verify their identity.

Connect Voice ID won’t automatically grant access to anyone who can sound like a customer, though: It assigns a confidence score based on rhythm, pitch and tone and will flag certain callers for additional ID verification if it isn’t positive that a caller is who they say they are. Connect Voice ID also lets companies build watchlists of known scammers to automatically flag them to agents.

Connect Wisdom and Connect Voice ID are both generally available now, but the third Connect feature that Amazon shared, high-volume outbound communications, is still in preview. Outbound communications is a feature that Amazon said is missing in many legacy call center systems that lack outbound capabilities. Connect’s high-volume outbound communications feature is meant to address that by combining outbound and inbound into one system.

In the case of outbound calling, businesses are mostly looking to update customers, confirm appointments, send marketing messages and otherwise contact customers using calls, texts or emails.

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Managers with access to the new outbound feature “can easily schedule and launch high-volume outbound communications by simply specifying the communications channel, contact list and content that will be sent to customers,” Amazon said. It also mentioned machine learning integration in the dialer that can distinguish between live customers, voicemail greetings and busy signals to reduce wasted agent time.

Amazon Connect customers interested in testing the outbound call features can register for the preview at AWS.

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