In a bid to help enterprises offer better customer service and experience, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has added a new case management feature, dubbed Amazon Cases, to its Amazon Connect cloud-based contact center service.\n\nAmazon Cases is expected to aid agents in tracking, collaborating and resolving customer cases faster, especially the ones that require multiple interactions and follow-up tasks, the company said.\n\nAfter deployment of the feature, any new issue raised via a call or message is registered as a new case and any further interaction on the same issue is attached to this case file, making it easier for any agent to see the entire case history and take necessary action, AWS explained in a press note.\n\nWhile integrations with third party solutions can offer similar capabilities, AWS claims that these integrations can turn complex, leading to relatively expensive development cycles and agents having to switch between multiple applications or tools in order to service a customer.\n\n"Features such as Cases that offer collaboration tools are table stakes in today's competitive contact center environment. Agents need these tools to quickly and easily address increasingly complex customer cases and challenges," said Liz Miller, principal analyst at Constellation Research.\n\n"And in a customer experience-driven economy, passing customers off to an 'escalated' or more 'knowledgeable agent' can inadvertently set off a negative experience. Customers want one call to answer their problems and concerns and solutions like this are an important step to giving agents the ability to do just that," Miller added.\n\nSome of the other capabilities of Amazon Cases include the ability for agents to manually log in new cases, agent routing for calls, and chatbot integration.\n\nWhile IVR (interactive voice response) capabilities and chatbots can additionally leverage case data from Amazon Connect Cases to drive personalized self-service interactions, the routing facility pushes the call to the best available agent with the relevant case attached, AWS said, adding that this is expected to improve average handling time and increase chances of first-contact resolution.\n\nAWS faces major competition in contact center market\n\nHowever, capabilities such as Cases are not new and pitch AWS in direct competition with companies such as Salesforce, Service Now, SAP, and Google, which already offer Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and Contact Center as a Service (CaaS) solutions.\n\n"Service solutions that have native case management workflows (like ServiceNow) or native customer data integrations (like Salesforce) already offer this (similar capabilities) as core to their value," Miller said.\n\nInside Salesforce, collaboration across cases can occur within the Service Cloud offering, or across the larger organization via native integration with Slack, where a case swarm can be initiated and critical intelligence about the customer is integrated from across the enterprise, Miller said, adding that SAP also offers similar capabilities.\n\nThe analyst also said that features such as this are becoming increasingly common in helpdesk-centric case management solutions being offered by firms such as Freshworks and Zendesk.\n\nIn March, Google Cloud extended its Contact Center AI (CCAI) service, with the ability to integrate with CRM (customer relationship management) applications in order to provide real-time insights and data analytics.\n\nLack of clarity in product placement\n\nAs AWS continues to add more features (machine learning and AI-based capabilities) to Amazon Connect since its release in 2017, there is lack of clarity in terms of the product placement and its market strategy, Miller believes.\n\n"The question is who does AWS want to compete with? Are they going to solely focus on the hyperscalers pushing into the contact center as the next frontier of cloud operations? Or are they going to more actively step into the ring with the contact center space just like SAP which recently announced a similar fully rearchitected cloud-native service cloud offering," Miller said.\n\nIf in case AWS wants to compete in the already crowded contact center market, then Miller believes that these announcements will have some impact on the existing partnerships with firms such as Salesforce as AWS will then turn from infrastructure partner to customer contact center rival.\n\nThe other question the analyst raises is about how the product is being positioned as part of the AWS products and solutions portfolio.\n\n"It is an interesting question to think whether AWS Connect will act as an expansion of services for existing customers or will it be a vehicle for AWS to land its customer before expanding accounts and migrating services?" Miller said.\n\nOutbound Campaigns, Lex Chatbot Designer now generally available\n\nAs part of its contact center updates, the company said that Outbound Campaigns and Lex Automated Chatbot Designer have been made generally available.\n\nLaunched last year, Amazon Connect outbound campaigns is a feature that allows AWS customers to create machine learning-powered outbound campaigns via voice, SMS and email.\n\nIn contrast to third-party tools that need integration, this feature allows contact center managers to schedule outbound communications by specifying the communications channel, contact list, and content that will be sent to customers while maintaining regulatory compliance wherever needed, the company said.\n\nAmazon has added a new capability, dubbed predictive dialer, inside the feature. Predictive dialer can be used to automatically call customers from a specified list and has the option of decreasing the frequency of the calls based on agent availability.\n\nThe dialer also uses a machine learning model to distinguish between a live customer, voicemail greeting, or busy signal to increase agent efficiency by ensuring agents only connect to a live customer, the company said.\n\nMeanwhile, the Lex Automated Chatbot Designer, based on the managed Amazon Lex service, uses natural language models from transcripts (voice and chat) to help enterprises build, test, and deploy conversational voice and text chatbots for applications or services that can complete common tasks such as answering customer questions, provide information, and complete requests like paying a bill.\n\nAmazon claims that this allows enterprises to build a chatbot within hours instead of weeks. However, this feature or capability is also not new in the contact center market.\n\n"Avaya's Voice@Work and 3CLogic's IVR Conversation Designer are two competitive solutions that come to mind," Miller said.needs it most.