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Whenever I write one of these blogs it always requires reflection on how long I’ve been in the contact center industry and what has changed. When it comes to the commercial side I’ve seen a few different models over the past 20 years. One thing I do know is that the days of multi-million dollar CAPEX purchases are a thing of the past. A genuine Contact Centre as-a-Service has finally arrived in the form of Amazon Connect.

When I look at the characteristics of what used to make up a contact center sale it would be everything but “as a Service”. Contact centers are living, breathing organisms that by their nature expand and contract in terms of size as the demand for the service changes. The same couldn’t be said for the commercial contracts that were inflicted on our customers.

Like the classic 1990 movie Goodfellas, where Henry Hill (played by the amazing Ray Liotta) describes Paulie the mobster being a “partner” in a bar and some of the challenges that creates. Paulie (played by Paul Sorvino) really didn’t care about your problems. He just expected to get paid – to paraphrase Henry (and make it more PG):

“Business bad, **** you, pay me”, “you had a fire, **** you, pay me”, “place got hit by lightning huh, **** you, pay me”. It didn’t end well for that particular partnership with the bar being set on fire for an insurance claim.

Now, I’m not trying to claim that software vendors were like mobsters, they faced commercial and hardware constraints that are no longer there today but when you look at how contact center contracts were structured there were a few similarities;

  • If the number of agents you require shrunk by 40% because you lost a contract, there was no ability to reduce your payment as typically you had already paid for the software in full.
  • If you wanted 40 more agents for a month for a peak it wasn’t really possible without buying 40 more licenses making the commercial arrangement more challenging. Then you had to pay maintenance on any unused licenses or 12 months down the track you weren’t able to use them again.
  • If you needed licenses for a disaster recovery or business continuity plan you typically had to pay 40-50% of the production cost whether you used them or not.

Since that time there has been a slow evolution to the as a Service economy. “as-a-Service 1.0” looked something like this;

  • Cost per named agent per month with a minimum commitment (no falling below the minimum)
  • Cost per concurrent agent per month (paid annually in advance, 12, 24 or 36 month contract)
  • Cost per IVR port, again typically with a minimum commitment
  • Cost per speech recognition and text to speech port

The same has been typically true with other connected components of the contact center such as Workforce Management or Quality Management which have been slower to move. While as a Service 1.0 was a big improvement, it still required contractual commitments that limits a customer’s ability to flex up and down as demand dictates.

With the launch of Amazon Connect we have now arrived at “as-a-Service 2.0”. Since then, the balance has finally swung in the customer’s favor with features such as;

  • Only pay for what you use
  • No lock in contracts – in fact, no contracts
  • Cost per connected minute – build what you want and only get charged when someone connects to the platform
  • No minimum number of agents
  • Use of Natural Language Understanding features such as Lex and Polly at no additional cost
  • Immediate scale with the ability to burst up and down in terms of IVR ports and agents
  • Disaster recovery for free, build a second platform in another region and only pay if you end up using it

It’s for these reasons (and many more covered off in other VoiceFoundry blogs) that we have chosen Amazon Connect as the core CX platform to build our business around. From a commercial perspective, the savings can be significant over traditional cost per agent models. Ask us about how we can model your existing environment and help you move to as-a-Service 2.0 with Amazon Connect.