AWS Beefs up Amazon Connect with Advanced Features

This syndicated post originally appeared at No Jitter.

Five new features offer contact center managers more granular levels of control, and the ability to jump into customer conversations more quickly.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) was certainly a late entrant into the CCaaS space. Early in the 2010s, Five9, Talkdesk and NICE were defining the space, but AWS had yet to raise its flag. In reality, Amazon had a highly scalable, homegrown contact center, which it used internally for the business and it took that product and made it customer facing. Since the debut of Amazon Connect at Enterprise Connect in 2017, the company has taken the product from being a niche, voice-only product to a Gartner Magic Quadrant leader. It has accomplished this with a steady stream of new features, most of which utilize artificial intelligence.

This week AWS announced five new features to Amazon Connect to help its customers do more with their contact center investments.

  1. Contact center managers can now “barge in” on in-progress chats

Customer chats can get complex. Now, instead of a rep having to put a customer on hold and have them waiting, Amazon Connect enables contact center managers to enter agent-customer chats. As a result, complex customer issues can be resolved quickly and accurately with manager-level expertise.

The key here is that managers don’t have to wait for a push of the panic button. Using AI-enabled Contact Lens for Amazon Connect enables managers to define specific rules, such as low sentiment score, to receive a real-time alert to join a chat. They can then enter a live chat between an agent and a customer, send and receive messages, remove the agent from the chat, leave the chat themselves, or end the chat for all participants.

This can be particularly useful for organizations with remote agents. When managers and agents are in the same facility, the supervisor can listen for audible cues. This obviously can’t happen with remote agents. Contact Lens automates the process of finding the calls that need supervisor assistance.

  1. Historical metrics with granular control

Amazon Connect now provides granular access controls so companies can apply resource tags that can define the team members with access to historical metrics for specific users, queues, and routing profiles in the Amazon Connect UI.

AWS says that Connect can tag users with a moniker such as “Team: Compliance” to limit the viewing of historical metrics to the compliance team manager.

This feature can be a boon to regulated industries such as healthcare and financial services to ensure regulations are being adhered to.

  1. Routing contacts based on agent proficiency

Routing calls based on the proficiency of agents can be a logistical challenge. Now, Amazon Connect provides the ability to rank agent proficiencies so that issues can be routed to the best available agent in a queue.

Each proficiency rank indicates an agent’s level of expertise in specific attributes, including fluency in languages, skillsets, and the types of customer issues they support.

Companies can use agent proficiencies to create custom routing requirements so that each customer contact gets matched to an agent ranked as best to drive the desired business outcome.

Managers can also create a series of timed routing steps. In this case, if a targeted set of agents is unavailable, Connect can progressively expand routing to target a wider pool of agents to find the best match. For example, Connect can set routing criteria so a specialist in credit cards or auto loans can talk with a customer who has issues in those areas. But if there’s no quick match, Connect can relax one aspect of the criteria to find an agent with expertise in one of the issues.

Many businesses have considered shifting the role of the contact center to be revenue-generating, and proficiency-based routing is a key to that being successful as it enables agent skills to be utilized better. As an example, I spoke with a mortgage broker in Amsterdam whose routing algorithms have gotten so good that they can have potential customers call in, matched with the best person for their situation and complete the process on a single call.

  1. More granular billing

Billing can be a real pain point. The typical per-user per-month model is inflexible and causes companies to over-provision for peak times. Utilization-based pricing can be confusing as there are unpredictable factors. Amazon Connect now provides detailed billing reports and insights in its Cost Explorer. In addition, it aggregates and filters by tags in AWS Cost & Usage Reports. Companies can gain more insights into their Amazon Connect bill and better organize it by LoBs or internal departments like support, banking, sales, or claims and by the types of issues, phone numbers, and environments.

The shift from per agent per month to departmental utilization-based billing has been a significant differentiator for Amazon Connect. I’ve talked to customers who have saved 50% or more off their bills. Seasonal organizations, such as retail, need to make provisions for peak seasons and let the system go underutilized most of the year. More granular billing will let customers save more money.

At the recent AWS re:Invent event, I talked to Amazon Connect GM Pasquale DeMaio about the AWS obsession with customers money as that will eventually lead to them spending more. He told me, “We continue to find new ways to help our customers save money. We hope that leads to greater loyalty and increased spend, but if they spend net less, year over year, that’s ok too.”

  1. Pausing and resuming tasks

Amazon Connect Tasks now supports pausing and resuming tasks— to improve CX without losing track of work. Typically, the tasks often get started but not completed because agents get busy with other calls. When this happens, the tasks often need to be started over or not completed at all, causing companies to lose valuable information. Amazon Connect Tasks allow users to prioritize, assign, and track contact center agent tasks to completion. This should improve agent productivity and help resolve customer issues more quickly.


I’ve written before that AWS has come a long way in a short period with Amazon Connect. Initially, I was skeptical that a late entrant could have success in an increasingly crowded market. But AWS has stuck to its mission of delivering AI-infused contact center features with a utilization-based pricing model that’s helped them go from newcomer to leader. These product enhancements aim to improve the customer experience, whether directly or indirectly, and empower agents with the information and support they need.

Author: Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.