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August 24, 2017
AI and cloud revolutionizing customer contact centers
By: Jamal Robinson and Mark Laczynski

Artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to dramatically change the way enterprises operate their businesses, including front-line service channels like customer contact centers. With AI’s expected growth potential, companies in every industry can fundamentally improve the customer experience by using AI-powered conversational interfaces to create virtual agents, chatbots or speech-to-text services in multiple languages.

But the real innovation comes when enterprises combine these AI tools into a contact center running from the cloud. The result is a dynamic, scalable customer contact centerasaService with intelligent capabilities that can improve customer satisfaction.

Given this need, Amazon now offers Amazon Connect, a fully hosted, customizable, cloud-based contact center service that makes it easier for enterprises to deliver better, more cost-effective customer service with pay-per-minute pricing plus the cost of associated telephony services.

Amazon Connect leverages the company’s highly trained, globally distributed customer service team and manages the behind-the-scenes Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud-based infrastructure on behalf of customers. To use Amazon Connect, employees of all skill levels—from the non-technical analyst to the customer service senior executive—can simply access the online, self-service graphical interface to design contact flows, manage agents and track performance metrics.

In a move that makes AI more approachable, enterprises that opt for this cloud-based Amazon Connect model can easily access, implement and configure AWS’s packaged AI services into existing infrastructures. These services, which are available via simple-to-use API interfaces so companies do not need to retrain existing software developers or hire AI scientists, include:

  • Amazon Lex, a conversational interface based on Alexa

  • Amazon Rekognition, a deep learning-based image recognition service

  • Amazon Polly, a deep learning technology that synthesizes speech into a human-like voice

Accenture a premier partner for Amazon Connect

With a dedicated Customer Service Strategy and Transformation practice committed to driving end-to-end transformation of customer care, as well as deep experience in customer contact center implementation across multiple industries, Accenture can help its clients to rapidly deploy Amazon Connect at scale and build vertical industry applications that use AWS’s AI services to improve the customer experience.

Through the Accenture AWS Business Group (AABG), a unique relationship between the two companies that focuses on delivering cloud transformation projects, Accenture also offers dedicated full-time resources and deep integration experience with interactive voice response (IVR) systems and process flows to provide an end-to-end solution on Amazon Connect.

For example, Accenture rapidly implemented and customized Amazon’s contact center—as—a—service for a financial services client, augmenting the client’s call center capabilities with an internal call center designed specifically for employees. The AABG provided technical support for the project, as well as direct access to AWS’s product management team and training for Amazon Connect. Since the financial services company was already using AWS Cloud, it can more easily apply AI to analyze data sets or enable software developers to create new AI-powered products and services to enhance customer service.

In another example, a major global retailer is using Amazon Connect to harness extra call center capacity and handle seasonal spikes in customer service needs related to holidays and special-event sales. In this way, the retailer can supplement its existing physical customer contact centers and agents with a virtual one that scales up or down on-demand.

Variety of solutions

Accenture can apply combinatorial technologies of Amazon Connect plus AI to industrialize customer service operations, personalize customer service, enable chatbots to converse in different voices and languages, or power SMS-based customer service channels. In the airline industry, for instance, if a passenger misses a flight, an AWS AI-enabled service could automate an exchange like this through a customer’s mobile app directly interfacing with Amazon Lex:

Company (by text): Hi, I noticed you just missed your flight. Do you want me to book you on the next flight tomorrow?

Customer (speaking to phone, enabled on front-end by API call to Amazon Lex): Yes.

Company (by text, enabled on back-end to airline reservation system): Okay, do you prefer a window or aisle seat?

Customer (speaking to phone, enabled by API call to Amazon Lex): Aisle in first class.

Company (by text, enabled on back-end to airline reservation system): Unfortunately, all our first-class seats are booked for that flight. Would you like an aisle seat in the business section?

Customer (speaking to phone, getting frustrated): No. I want to talk someone right now to discuss my options.

Company (by text, enabled on back-end to customer contact center): Of course, I’ll connect you with the next available member of our customer care team now. Thank you.

Another way to complete this interaction would be for the customer to call a 1-800 number managed by Amazon Connect, which could use Amazon Lex on the back-end to process the interaction and reschedule the flight.

Contact center of the future

As enterprises make the journey to cloud, using a customer contact center-as-a-Service model can provide business value on multiple levels. Unlike traditional customer contact centers (which require managing complex integrations, operating highly technical systems, depending on vendors, or making long-term commitments to pricing models), Amazon Connect is low-risk solution with optimized self-service, running on highly reliable and available AWS infrastructure with a pay-as-you-go pricing model.

In a future filled with AI-based customer interfaces, Accenture and AABG can integrate Amazon Connect’s open platform with other systems such as customer relationship management (CRM) solutions and deliver a range of AI-powered conversational interfaces, and other products or services, that strengthen customer relationships and build long-term loyalty.

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