If you’ve been following the Cevo blog for a while, you’ll know we’re big fans of the Amazon Connect product. Originally launched back in 2017, Amazon Connect is a contact centre as a service (CCaS) solution that offers easy, self-service configuration and enables dynamic, personal, and natural customer engagement at scale. However, like any AWS service, it’s not without its pitfalls and problems as shown in our review of the product last year (https://cevo.com.au/post/the-good-bad-ugly-amazon-connect/). Well, it’s another year and the product team has been hard at work adding new features and addressing customer feedback. In this article, we will take a look at what’s been changed/added to the service over the past 12 months as well as take a look at what’s in store for the product going forwards.
If you’ve ever worked in or managed a contact centre can tell you just how important metrics are in understanding the quality and efficiency of your service. Amazon Connect has always had several key areas where the available metrics coming out of the system were lacking when compared to other contact solution systems available in the marketplace. However, over the last 12 months, AWS has put a lot of work into improving the metrics coming out of the Amazon Connect platform.
In October of 2020, AWS released a range of new real-time and historical metrics to allow teams to track key metrics around connecting times for incoming, outbound and callback events and well as adding additional context to the Contact trace records (CTR)’s allowing organisations to gain greater insight into their customer’s experiences and potential issues.
This increase in details was further expanded to chat-based interactions in April where we gained a number of fixes to the way incoming and transferred metrics are being calculated.
When you overlay these new metrics with the ability to stream contact trace records to kinesis you can start to create detailed reports and gain greater insight into the health and operations of your contact centre team. In the coming weeks, we will be publishing a series of guides on ways to generate real-time and historical reports using QuickSight so keep an eye on the Cevo blog to stay up to date.
App Integrations & API Access
One of the biggest challenges that I’ve always had with Amazon Connect is its complete lack of integration and availability within CloudFormation. As somebody who’s allergic to deploying anything by hand, the idea of having to manually deploy things into an AWS account has never sat right with me. In addition to not being reproducible, a lack of automation has presented a number of challenges within a continuous integration/continuous deployment type situation… Like all other components within an AWS environment.
Well, we may not have CloudFormation support, but in September of 2020, we did get a number of components that do allow us to dynamically build out parts of our contact centre solution. The addition of some API endpoints for creating and updating Contact Flow’s allows us to leverage the JSON based Amazon Contact Flow Language (see here for further details) to programmatically define how our contact centre should act. When overlaid with the existing API calls available (such as CreateInstance) we have most of what we need to deploy things via code. The one big issue currently is that there is no easy way to provision phone numbers via the API at present. Hopefully, this will come in the future, but for the time being at least, we can programmatically change our call flows.
At the end of the day, a contact centre is there to serve our customers and provide them with a way to interact with our organization. As a result of this, we want those integrations to be of the highest quality and the best experience possible. To that end, back in December of 2020 AWS released “Customer Profiles” which allows Amazon Connect to track and present to the contact centre agent, key profile attributes about the customer including account number, address, date of birth etc. In addition to this, it can also show a history of the customer’s interactions with the organization allowing the agent to gain greater insight into the customer’s experience and better understand their needs.
What makes this a super powerful feature is its ability to integrate with external applications such as ZenDesk or Salesforce, allowing for even greater insight into who the customer is. This capability becomes even more powerful when combined with the Customer Profiles API which allows for other AWS services to integrate with the solution ensuring a cohesive experience across the entire solution.
This feature really allows an Amazon Connect solution to compete with the larger more expensive contact centre solutions in the market such as Genesys or Avaya.
Metrics are great to provide insights for the business and customer profiles ensure a better experience for the customer, but what about the contact centre agents themselves… what’s been done to make their lives easier. The answer is…. “A Lot”.
Major improvements have been made to the “Contact Control Panel” over the last year, solving a number of issues for both the Agents and Team leaders performing support tasks (such as listen-ins). DTMF tones are now handled in a much better way, ensuring a more predictable experience for the agents. In addition, search has been improved across the solution, allowing agents to find what they are looking for faster and easier. This is being further improved with the development of “Amazon Connect Wisdom”, a machine learning power knowledge search engine to provide question and answer based querying ability to agents. Currently, in Preview, this could prove to make life drastically easier for contact centre agents in the future.
And finally, we have a feature currently being rolled out across the platform… “Next Status”. This is one that’s been missing for a long time and isn’t immediately obvious when looking at Amazon Connect as a possible solution for your contact centre needs. Ultimately, the “Next Status” feature will allow agents to select a status they’d like to transition to once they’ve finished with their current contact… say “Lunch”. Typically, an agent has had to select the status once the interaction was complete, but in a busy contact centre environment… the agent may be presented with a new contact before they get a chance to. This feature ensures that the agent can transition to the correct state as soon as possible and is a game-changer for agents already working on Amazon Connect platforms.
Looking back at the last 12 months and we see a pretty regular pace for updates and new features across the Amazon Connect product space which shows a clear commitment to improving the product’s capabilities. This is further backed up by the list of new features they are releasing in the coming weeks and months, including:
- Faster reload times for the Real-Time metrics page
- Fixes to the agent event stream
- New AppInteratrions Service APIs
All this is to say that Amazon Connect is continuously getting better and thanks to the Contact Flow Language, so can our contact flows. Regardless of whether you’ve never looked at Amazon Connect before, or even if you’re an old hand at it… Its capabilities and new levels of automatability present opportunities to leverage it in new and interesting ways.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be posting a series of articles on how to get started with Amazon Connect and walk through all the steps involved in building out a fully functional contact centre solution from scratch so keep an eye out on the blog.
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As an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, we can provide expert assistance with building your Amazon Connect omnichannel contact centre in the cloud. Get started with our 2-week Amazon Connect pilot. Drop us a line via our contact us form.