On Tuesday, Amazon launched Amazon Connect, a new cloud-based contact center service that could make it easier and faster for a company to deploy a scalable call center. According to a press release announcing Connect, it is based on the same technology Amazon uses for its customer service.

While the terms “cloud-based” and “as-a-service” aren’t typically associated with a call center, that seems to be what Amazon is getting at with Connect. Amazon Web Services (AWS) customers can configure and deploy Connect through the AWS Management Console, and their company will be able to start taking customer service calls “within minutes,” the release said.

Connect pricing is offered in a pay-as-you-go model, with pricing differing for each type of call and the country of origin where the call originated. The AWS Free Tier also allows customers to get limited access to the service at no cost. Full pricing details are available here.

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According to the release, the use of Amazon Connect eliminates the need for specialized hardware and software and offers a scalable solution for contact center needs. As the business needs dictate, Connect can scale out to handle up to “tens of thousands of agents.” This could be especially helpful for retail users during holiday shopping and Black Friday, for example.

Because it utilizes a self-service graphical user interface (GUI), users without specialized technical skills can set up Amazon Connect, track the data associated with it, and manage its customer service agents.

One of the features that users can set up in Connect is contact flow, which uses data from an additional source, (e.g. Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon Redshift, Amazon Aurora, and third-party systems), to alter the customer’s experience. Also, the release said, contact flows can be built using Amazon Lex to include natural language understanding (NLU) and speech recognition, allowing customers to simply say what they want, instead of waiting to hear a bunch of menu options.

Tom Weiland, vice president of worldwide customer service at Amazon, said in the release that creation and use of the technology underpinning Amazon Connect “has been a differentiator for us, as it is used today by our agents around the world in the millions of interactions they have with our customers. We’re excited to offer this technology to customers as an AWS service–with all of the simplicity, flexibility, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of the cloud.”

Amazon Connect also works with other Amazon tools like S3, Redshift, and QuickSight, and GE Appliances is signed on as an early customer. As noted by ZDNet’s Larry Dignan, Connect further expands AWS’s customer service clout, broadening its offerings to compete with the likes of Salesforce and SAP.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Amazon recently launched Amazon Connect, a cloud-based contact center service delivered through AWS.
  2. Users can scale Connect to support tens of thousands of customer service agents, and it is delivered in a pay-as-you-go model.
  3. Amazon Connect integrates with a host of AWS services and third-party products, and will help broaden Amazon’s efforts on the customer service market.