When Amazon went to the market to buy contact centre capabilities to support their global business, they concluded that nothing met their expectations and built their solution in partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS). In 2017 AWS released Amazon Connect to allow their customers to buy and utilise the same capabilities. This was a signal that contact centre technology had not yet caught up with modern means of communication to support the customer experience.
Businesses want to buy technology that helps them contact customers quickly and efficiently over the technology they need. Whilst the existing contact centre industry markets scale and new methods such as chat, their technology and cost model remain focused on voice.
Over five years, Amazon has iterated quickly and gained significant customers. We are yet to see Microsoft officially enter the market with a competing product. Still, with their investment in Azure, Azure Communication Services and Microsoft Teams, I don’t expect they will remain silent for too long in this market.
Zoom has recently entered the contact centre space which will bring cloud communication and video expertise into the marketplace. They will also bring a significant user base comfortable with using their software.
Why are Amazon, Microsoft and Zoom best placed to disrupt the contact centre market?
- Customer requirements have dramatically changed. They want self-service, automation, and chat bots. The current industry focuses on Voice, yet customers avoid using Voice at all costs. They of course want to be able to contact humans quickly and effectively, but chat is by far and away the most preferred medium of communication.
- Technology scale is crucial. Whilst existing provider may understand the changing dynamics, they appreciate to meet the needs of their customers they need computing and cloud scale on a global basis. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning don’t have cheap table stakes, to provide the natural language processing the likes of Amazon and Microsoft have billions of dollars invested in core technologies and platforms which only the largest Technology companies can compete with.
- New entrants bring price competition. Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure bringing with them consumption-based pricing and a desire for growth. Implementing customer experience on cloud-based services removes the rigidity of building vendor platforms which often locks organisations into long term agent-based pricing which also includes a hefty chunk of revenue to voice carriers. The existing market has limited desire to move to automated chat as their cost models focus on agents and telco minutes.
In the next article I will go through in more detail the business case behind moving from contact centre to customer experience.