Today's contact center solutions are much different than the solutions they evolved from. Contact centers have steadily grown in features, size, and availability thanks to the number of advancements in voice and cloud technology that allow for better customer service and a better end-user experience. Now users are able to use the power of the cloud to put callers in a smart queue, use skilled-based routing for the most applicable agent, and integrate third-party Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications to view customer details, and more. Plus, the steady growth, use, and popularity of the cloud has made it easy for businesses to access and reap the benefits that the cloud can offer companies of all sizes.
The challenge, however, that this easy access to the cloud poses for service providers in the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Unified Communications (UC), and contact center industries is how to keep up and stay current with the adoption and advancement of the cloud in the workplace. For providers, this means offering an easy-to-use, reliable solution that offers innovative features and tools that utilize the power of the cloud. Recently, Amazon Web Services (AWS) decided to enter the contact center market with their new product, Amazon Chime. For established names in the VoIP and UC industries, Amazon's entrance into the contact center market poses a few questions: how will they perform? what will they bring to the table? are they a viable competitor?
Terrel Bird, the CEO and Co-Founder at TCN, shared some thoughts with VoipReview.org on how Amazon's Amazon Chime service will affect the contact center market and challenge current service providers in the hosted VoIP and UC industries.
Amazon Enters the UC Market
Earlier this year, AWS joined the UC market with their UCaaS offering Amazon Chime, a direct response to Skype, GoToMeeting, and other leading VoIP industry providers that offer cloud contact center options and virtual meeting spaces as part of their team collaboration or Unified Communication solutions. "With the entry of AWS into the market it is proof to the hosted call center software provider that the market is ready for significant growth and change," said Bird.
Hosted on the AWS Cloud, this UC service was founded on the principle of offering mobility through an application where individuals can work across any of their devices to access and run online meetings, video conferencing, chat, and more. Plus, Amazon Chime comes with built-in security and control features, staying true to the idea that communications do not need a complex network or infrastructure to function. Amazon Chime also comes with an easy-to-use admin panel for basic tasks and user management. Both of these options help to save costs on equipment and a dedicated IT department. And with their pay-as-you-go pricing option and no upfront investments, it is a competitive offer for individuals seeking a UC service.
Amazon Chime is available to users in three different plan options: Basic (free), Plus ($2.50/user/month), and Pro ($15.00/user/month). Each plan comes with a host of included features, with the Basic plan offering video calls up to two people, chat and chat rooms, one-on-one video meetings, one-on-one voice calls, an Outlook plugin, and message history up to 30 days. It is also available for a 30-day trial if users would like to test the service ahead of time (no credit card required).
How Will AWS Affect the Hosted Voice Industry?
Over time, the hosted voice industry has changed dramatically due to new technologies, agent requests, and the desire to deliver better, more effective customer service. And in today's environment where customers seek immediate responses and customized service, hosted voice, UC solutions, and cloud contact centers alike are striving to deliver the tools, applications, and integrations that make for fluid agent-customer interactions. All of this is possible through the capabilities of the cloud, which is the foundation for all of these interactions. "With AWS, competitors will need to discover and solidify their competitive advantage and find ways to sell that advantage to their base," revealed Bird. "We feel that AWS could become an eventual competitor as it relates to our large enterprise level customers."
With Amazon as a new entry in the hosted voice and UC space, it begs the question: how will this affect the market? Bird believes that, while Amazon offers an affordable and competitive solution, it won't be able to match up with solutions offered by long-time providers who are specialists in their industry. "While AWS may provide a good baseline for many clients a devoted customer service team may be better suited to help clients take full advantage of the customized benefits offered through hosted solution," shared Bird.
While the Amazon Chime solution does not currently offer the tools that contact centers and their agents require, the introduction of Amazon Chime definitely proves that AWS can shake up the voice industry and could easily enter other voice channels and solutions in the near future.
What TCN Brings to the Hosted Voice Market
When it comes to hosted services, TCN is supporting customers and clients alike through the revolutionary technology of their Platform 3.0 solution, a cloud-based contact center that allows companies to take their customer service to the next level through the use of easy integration options (from CRMs to software tools) and a full set of features that help agents deliver a great customer service experience. It is available as an inbound, outbound, or blended solution, and utilizes a pay-per-minute model to help reduce costs.
"Part of what we try to do to help navigate those challenges is to provide our clients with tools that are intuitive," said Bird. "We feel we have done a good job in taking a potentially difficult problem and boiling it down to simple steps and procedures. Our “always-on” cloud-based delivery model provides customers with immediate access to our solutions and 24/7 customer support, in addition to onsite visits and feature consultations."
Some of the highlights of Platform 3.0 include:
- No upfront cost - contract-free billing makes it attractive to businesses with constrained budgets
- Auto updates - maintained by the provider, customers no longer have to worry about updating to the latest software
- Easily scalable - adding and subtracting agents can all be done through the admin panel
- 24/7 support - always available and free of charge
- Full feature suite - predictive dialing, caller DID, call recording, agent transfer, agent dashboard, and more.
One big part of TCN's Platform 3.0 solution that stands out when compared to other solutions is the access to real-time data and statistics. "The modern call center needs to be intimately aware of how they are performing; in conjunction with this they also need to be flexible in how they execute their strategy based on that performance," revealed Bird. "A good provider should be able to provide clear reporting with timely insights and a platform that can change as their needs change." TCN offers agents the ability to modify campaigns, track agent performance, and other actions with help from calculable data that can further help businesses evaluate their performance and adjust it accordingly to maximize productivity.
Founded in 1999, TCN is one of the leading providers in the contact center industry, delivering streamlined solutions to customers seeking a hosted contact center built on new-age technology. Their flagship product, Platform 3.0, offers Inbound, Outbound, and True Blended options for customers who are seeking a hosted contact center suite that can meet their individual business needs. TCN also offers other contact center services and products like IVR, call distribution, and call recording storage, in addition to applications like BPO, events notification, surveys, and others. Most recently, TCN conducted a survey named "State of the Collections Industry" that revealed how industry execs view their businesses and the future of their industry.