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Conversation with a Contact Center Builder (Versus Buyer)
Ever since Amazon Connect and Twilio Flex were announced at Enterprise Connect 2017 and 2018, respectively, the two contact center solutions have been lauded by some — and criticized by others — as products that customers build for themselves. “Build” solutions are said to require companies to have dedicated developers and/or invest in expensive professional services from systems integrators. Thus, Amazon Connect and Twilio Flex are typically contrasted with cloud contact center solutions that are “out-of-the-box.”
At the November 2021 AWS re:Invent conference, I had the opportunity to speak to an Amazon Connect user, Bryan Carey, head of operations & analytics at Traeger Inc. I came away from our conversation with the impression that there is a new kind of contact center user out there choosing Amazon Connect. Carey is a self-professed builder.
But does being a builder mean lots of developers and expensive professional services? It is clear from my conversation with Carely that what is different about Amazon Connect in 2022 is it offers customers the tools they want to customize their solutions without extensive developer resources. Amazon Connect is best thought of as configurable, not programmable.
He’s an Amazon Connect Serial Builder
The first thing that I found unique about Carey is that Traeger was the third company he had built or worked on an Amazon Connect contact center. The first time Carey was at a consumer technology product company. Next was at a leading fintech company, and an Amazon Connect reference customer.
Why did I find it unique that Carey had worked on Amazon Connect at three companies? To hear that an executive worked on Avaya systems in his last three positions would not be unusual because that likely would have been over the last three decades! Amazon Connect has only been available for a few years and yet Carey has been able to successfully implement it multiple times.
I believe Carey’s history as a serial builder also speaks to a fondness for the results he can achieve using Amazon Connect.
He Can Build at the Speed of Innovation
The pace of AWS innovation is one of the principal reasons Amazon Connect is Carey’s go-to solution for optimizing customer experiences. “Enhancements and new capabilities just appear. We’re able to adopt industry-leading solutions like Wisdom, Customer Profiles, Apple’s Business Chat and Voice ID with clicks vs. code,” explained Carey.
“We don’t need to spend tens of thousands of dollars and weeks and/or months implementing solutions with expensive professional services engagements,” Carey added. (See “AWS Makes 5 Major Amazon Connect Announcements” for more on the features Carey mentioned.)
Traeger’s been able to boost its marketing systems thanks to data Amazon Connect collects. For example, Trager’s been able to use the customer profiles feature to capture and send CDP information to Segment (Twilio’s customer data platform) in order to target and better serve different customer segments.
Carey cites Amazon Connect’s openness as a differentiator for AWS’s contact center solution — especially its interoperability with other AWS services. For example, Traeger used EventBridge, a serverless event bus and DynamoDB, a database service, to develop a solution that provides custom experiences within Amazon Connect based on real-time customer actions on their website. Reports Carey, “We built the solution in an afternoon.”
Resources Required to Build
One of the purported issues with so-called build solutions is the programming resources allegedly required. Carey said at each company where he deployed Amazon Connect, the level of developer support needed was dependent on the level of customization that was required. He agreed that sometimes there is a need to hire net-new coders or designers.
Traeger has a mid-sized contact center with a few hundred agents; Carey says three people, including himself, support Traeger’s Amazon Connect deployment. The criticism that companies should be prepared to deploy extensive internal resources or hire a systems integrator if they choose a build solution appears to be more of a competitive sales tactic than a reality.
It has now been five years since the contact center build versus buy conversation began. While I am one of the first to say that no solution is 100% build or 100% buy, my conversation with Carey reinforced for me that there are definitely self-professed contact center builders — and with the help of continuing product innovation from AWS, their ranks are growing.
I would not be at all surprised to see the topic of build versus buy surface in this year’s Enterprise Connect contact center general session, Who Should be Making Contact Center Decisions in 2022? IT? Customer Service? Marketing? Plan to join us!
To learn more about Enterprise Connect 2022, make sure to check out the conference schedule. Early bird registration pricing ends on Friday, February 25, 2022.