ACP: The Amazon Connect Podcast

3: Audio and Video Communication Widgets

February 19, 2024 CloudInteract - Episode 3
3: Audio and Video Communication Widgets
ACP: The Amazon Connect Podcast
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ACP: The Amazon Connect Podcast
3: Audio and Video Communication Widgets
Feb 19, 2024 Episode 3
CloudInteract -

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In this episode Tom & Alex were joined by Bentley Paton - Platform Engineer at CloudInteract - to discuss some of the newest innovations in the Amazon Connect communications widget.

We first discuss the existing chat widget capabilities that Connect has had for some time before moving to talk about the addition of audio and video. We spent some time talking about whether the world was ready for this - both customers and companies.

After that, we headed into the technicalities of how everything worked, how to configure the widget for various different outcomes, and discussed the cost model. 

Next week, we are joined by John Ing, an independent Cloud Contact Centre Consultant. As an early adopter of Amazon Connect who led the first UK Bank onto Amazon Connect five years ago he has many stories to share, so be sure you don't miss this one!

Find out more about CloudInteract at

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

In this episode Tom & Alex were joined by Bentley Paton - Platform Engineer at CloudInteract - to discuss some of the newest innovations in the Amazon Connect communications widget.

We first discuss the existing chat widget capabilities that Connect has had for some time before moving to talk about the addition of audio and video. We spent some time talking about whether the world was ready for this - both customers and companies.

After that, we headed into the technicalities of how everything worked, how to configure the widget for various different outcomes, and discussed the cost model. 

Next week, we are joined by John Ing, an independent Cloud Contact Centre Consultant. As an early adopter of Amazon Connect who led the first UK Bank onto Amazon Connect five years ago he has many stories to share, so be sure you don't miss this one!

Find out more about CloudInteract at

 Welcome to ACP, the Amazon Connect podcast. This is the show that focuses on Amazon Connect and related technologies. I'm your host, Tom Morgan. Introducing episode three, and I'm joined as usual by my co-host, AWS Solution, Architect and contact Center consultant Alex Baker. We're also joined today by Bentley Payton, platform engineer at Cloud Interac. 

Find out more about Cloud Interact by visiting us at 

Hello everyone and hello Alex and Bentley. We're all in different places today so this is gonna be a fun technical challenge 'cause I'm in some sort of isolation 'cause I don't feel very well. So Alex has stayed at home and Bentley you are in Manchester. Yes. Yeah, that's correct. Perfect. Excellent. Right. 

Cool. And so we've got loads of stuff to talk about today. We're going to deep dive a little bit into some of the new [00:01:00] exciting audio video stuff that's in the web chat widget. 'cause I know Bentley you've been playing with that quite a lot, so that's gonna be really good to talk through. Before we get into that though we like to sort of cover off any news items or anything that's been happening since our last episode. 

And I know Alex, you you came across something. Just the other day that you wanted to sort of share. Yep, yep. Keeping an eye as usual on the Amazon Connect release notes. One in there at the moment for February, which I don't think we mentioned last time, and it is relevant to what we discussed last time on the podcast though, so we'll, talking about CRM profiles, cases, that kind of thing. 

And the, the new releases for Amazon Con, Amazon Connect cases. It is, it now provides an audit history on cases that allows you to see which users worked on a case, what changes they made, and the order in which those changes occurred. So yeah, giving you a bit more visibility around the, the actions taken on that, [00:02:00] on your, your cases so you, you're not kind of blind around what's been been going on on them. 

So, yeah. Sounds good. That's potentially an unlock for highly compliant. I guess like government or compliance, you know, where, where they need that level of like the audit trail, they need to know everything that's happened. Maybe, maybe it's an unlock for those people then, I guess to have that sort of visibility. 

So that's cool. It's good for everyone as well, really just to understand what's been going on. So let's get into this chat widget then. So this, we've had the chat widget for a while. And I feel like. Last year sometime we could, we could have multiple chat widgets per connect instance. Right. And that was cool. 

And yeah, so if you've, if you've never, if you dunno what we're talking about, let's start right at the beginning. So Amazon Connect has a chat widget that you can add to your website or app. It's Bentley, keep me honest, it's JavaScript. Yes, it's, yeah. Okay, cool. So you can drop it into your website. 

You can configure it, you can brand it as well. Am I right in saying that? Yeah, you're able to, on the, on the out of the [00:03:00] box, you, you can add your logo on there if you want to. And then of course you can do your full customisation and make that completely personal. Okay, cool. And you can add it to, for some affordances for like building into a mobile app as well. 

I think there's like a. Underlying it all. There's like an API you could use or there's maybe even libraries as well you can use. Yes. Yeah. So you, you can add it to an app. You, you can actually add the out-of-the-box to an app if you wanted to. Okay. I have had, had some success in doing that. Okay, cool, cool. 

So it's, it's pretty easy to get started and what it gives you is the ability for your customers to just start a chat session and what happens on the back end then. So that goes, is that just like them calling your phone number for Amazon Connect? Does it go into the same queue? Like how does, how does that work? 

Yeah, essentially it is it follows the same sort of journey as a call would but you can have a separate contact flow for your chat, so I. You know, if you wanted to, you can front that with the integration of Amazon Lex. So they can have a chat with the bot, but it's still in your [00:04:00] contact center. 

You'll seeing the data and then you can route it to queues just as you would a phone call. And you can, you can use the same, the same queue as a, as a voice queue if you wanted to, or you can have separate ones. Oh, nice. So you can even start off with a bot and try and get it answered and then hand it off to a, hand it off to a human and it just goes into a, a connect queue. 

Just, you know, like a, like a voice call. That's cool. And I know, yeah, absolutely. And I know you can pass pro like arguments as well, optionally. So like you, you imagine like a user on a website. You could, like start chatting. It's useful to know kind of what page they're on, what's in their basket maybe. 

But I guess they user identifier as well. You could pass that and somehow look it up because it's different from, I guess it's different from voice calling. You can't use the phone number. You don't, I guess you don't dunno anything about this user unless you pass it yourself. There's no, I guess there's no identifier there. 

Yeah. Yeah. So you can, you can pass that context. With the out of the box wi Gi, it does require a bit more development. You'll have to use the, the JavaScript web tokens [00:05:00] and obviously have a little bit more freedom if you create the full customer experience yourself. But yeah, absolutely those sorts of things. 

What page they're on, what they've done before, you can pass that in and get that information to an advisor. That's really exciting for me leading on from what we were discussing last time, Tom, just being able to have a fully authenticated customer to, you know, who it is and seeing what they've been browsing, what products they might be looking at. 

I. Being able to pass that context to the agent and arming them ready to have that conversation. That sounds really good to me. Mm-Hmm. Yeah, definitely, definitely. So that's all stuff you could do already, which is great. So what's the thing that's new? So what's new? And it was, I think it was the end of November of last year. 

So they introduced in-app web and video calling. So they integrated it into the existing chat widget. So it's now been rebranded as the communications widget. And you have the option for, for web and video calling. So voice and video in the same widget. Okay. So [00:06:00] same widget, same single widget that I put on the website. 

But now I can do chat, but I could also talk to my agent. I could do video calling with my agent as well. Yes. Yeah. So of course your existing chat widget, you would have to. E enable those features but it would now be available in that same widget. Got it. Yeah, that was gonna be one of my questions. 

Like, if I already have the chat widget and I don't want this, I don't panic, I don't have to worry. Right. Nothing's gonna happen unless you opt into using this. Okay. That's interesting. I mean, that's, that's kind of incredible that that changes for me, some of that customer experience stuff. So the thing I find frustrating is where you've got different flows for customer service. 

You know, where you've got Yeah. I can do web chat or I can pick up the phone. Like those are two very separate worlds and it can be kind of hard to start in one and then continue on another. But actually this is really interesting 'cause you could, you can presumably start on chat and then just kind of upscale to audio or video as part of that same conversation. 

Is that, is that, is that how it works? You always [00:07:00] start off in one or how does that work? So it'll depend on whether it's the out of the box or customer experience. So with the out of the box, you do have the consideration that. When you click the icon to open it up, it will open up the chat session immediately. 

Mm-Hmm mm-Hmm. And then if you don't have anything like a legs by in front of it and you just route into a queue that that chat session will start and an agent will be, will be needed. If you want to step up to a voice call or, or a video call, it's classed as a separate contact so your chat session will end and a and a voice call will start. 

So technically it's separate. I think if you were to create it fully custom, then you could maybe create an escalation. But if it's out of the box, then it's gonna be a separate contact and you need to do something to handle that. Got it. That's interesting. Does it then get re-rooted? Not rerouted, but you know what I mean? 

Does it go back into the queue and it could potentially be picked up by someone else? Is that what you're saying? Yeah. Yes, technically. So you would technically go into the back of the queue unless you've done something to handle that. Got it. [00:08:00] And that's where, yeah, that's where your customer integration comes in. 

That's where your custom work to be. Like, actually, when this happens, what I'm trying to do is get back to that same person. Yeah, exactly. Completely. That completely makes sense. That's interesting. So I guess. Alex, do you, do you think this is gonna be taken up? Like how do you see this being embraced by big companies everywhere? 

Yeah, I, I guess I was gonna ask you guys, you know, amongst the three of us, do, do you think it feels like a natural progression, first of all? So we're all, we're all pretty used to US in, in it anyway. A few enforced years of being on teams or, or Zoom calls pretty much all day. That would feel quite natural to me. 

So rather than picking up my mobile, if I was to go onto a company's website and be able to engage using voice, but on the website using my headset, I would be absolutely fine with that. And I, I think, I think there are some benefits to be had there. The, the one obvious one that we mentioned, you can be fully authenticated and you can. 

[00:09:00] Pass all your contacts to the, to the agent potentially and have that nice sort of seamless customer experience. Will companies embrace it? I think there are a few considerations probably, you know, cost is always is always up there in terms of, in terms of considerations. So we should look at that. 

Yeah, definitely. And then also around the. The benefits to the customer and to the, the company. So there's quite a lot to, to unpick there potentially. What about you guys? Do you think you would, you would embrace this? The, the voice calling part specifically? Yeah, I think so. I think the world is ready. 

I really do, like everyone has a headset now, you know? It's, it's, it's incredible how that's changed so much, you know, like I could. I live four hours away from my parents and I could never get them to do like Skype calls or like anything like that. They just didn't do it. And then we had lockdown and it turns out when FaceTime is the only way to see your grandkids, you pick that stuff up real fast. 

So like, actually I think a lot of us have been through that and, and as you say, like everyone has a headset now. [00:10:00] Everyone has a camera. Yeah. I think we are ready for it. And yeah, to your point, I think the, I think the users are ready. I think customers are ready. Our company's ready. Not sure. And there are some considerations we should go through. 

But I think there's loads of, there's also loads of use cases that will be different and unique to particularly video. I think being able to show somebody something, thinking around, you know, like support calls troubleshooting after product care, all stuff like that, you know just like a classic, you know, I can't work out how to use my washing machine. 

You know, oh, you need to press the spin button. Which one's the spin button? Just being able to like get on a video call, spin the phone round and be like, this is what I see. And they're like, oh, okay. Like, that's not right, you know, instantly. Like it's that, that can be 10 minutes of a, a really frustrating audio call. 

So I think that's really interesting. And we've done some, I think we've done some, some kind of proof of concept work in this area, haven't we as well? Yeah, I was gonna mention a couple. We have, we have a, a healthcare customer.[00:11:00] There's some great use cases for video there. Potentially. You know, I, I have to administer an injection or I, I have to, I, I have to perform this certain medical procedure. 

Rather than having to visit your, your GP to do that potentially, if it's, if it's something relatively minor, you, you could be talked through it over, over a video call. And we, we have, we have looked at that. Then there was another one that. Bentley, you can keep me honest here. You put together a, a little proof of concept around sort of proactive push for, for mortgage renewals. 

And I, I think that sort of checking, checking in the, the, the bank or mortgage providers records, are there any customers. Where their mortgage is coming up for renewal. Let's send them a proactive push notification to the, maybe to, to the, the banking app and align that with the agent capacity. 

So there might be a quiet period during the day where we can see we've got spare capacity and we could line up that, that the mortgage appointment over video [00:12:00] with a, an available advisor. Oh, I love that. Like, so now you're using your Yeah. How Penny talks through that. How did, how did you do that? Yeah, so at the moment, exactly as Alex said, we're checking the agent's availability. 

At the moment we're doing that based on their availability. In Connect though you can set a threshold, you know, say 60 seconds or, and three agents. We've had three agents available for over a minute. And then at the moment they're not doing anything. So we'll look into our. Records, see whose mortgage is ending in, let's say within six months. 

And then we'll send a push notification to a set number of people. Let's say 50 people. We send a push notification saying that we have advisors available. You can get through to them right at this moment. And we send that push notification to their app, they can open that up and start a video conversation with their advisor straight away. 

We are looking at integrating things like the Outlook calendar in teams presence to see whether they are available in in other areas. Because I guess, you know, for something like a mortgage advisor, [00:13:00] it wouldn't necessarily be on the phone all day. So we need to check other avenues and that's something that we're working on at the moment. 

Yep. Yeah. Yeah. That's cool. Sorry, go on Alex, going back to your, your previous question, Tom, around will companies adopt this? I can see that the drivers for adoption being things like that where there's potential value add in a, in a sales process. I, I think. If they can see that the, the ability to generate business more easily comes from, from using the, the technology, then definitely I think people are gonna adopt it. 

Yeah. A hundred percent. And it, this always used to be reserved for very, I. Specialist use cases like real high-end net worth, private banking, stuff like that, where you had like a dedicated account manager you could call anytime of day or night. And yeah, I've worked on stuff in the past using, using that where you could video call, but it was literally one-to-one. 

There was no, there's no routing there. So yeah, this is really cool. It's bringing it to everyone. This is exciting. So what, what do you have to do to get this, like, [00:14:00] can everybody get it today and how, where do you go? What do you do? Yeah, so I think in, in the sort of the major regions, at least the ones that we've worked in u US regions and London, uk, it's available. 

You don't have to do anything to enroll. You can just find the communication widgets section in the Amazon Connect dashboard to set it up. It's, I think it's three pages of you know, you, you choose which channels you want to enable, then you can choose your contact flow that you want to use. Do some customization if you want to. 

Then you are presented with a JavaScript, a snippet that you can then embed into your web page or app. It's really that simple. Nice. And you can choose to do just voice, can't you? Or voice and video? Yes. Yes. Can you can, yeah. Enable chat, enable voice and then, yeah, voice or video if you want to. Nice, nice. 

And we've already spoken about like, don't have to worry too much if I've already got the chat widget apart from deciding if I want to add to it. That's cool. Can you route things [00:15:00] differently? So when you are doing that kind of routing, can you segment out people who want to do video from, want to do voice, do you know, and, and kind of do the routing differently? 

I'm, I'm just kind of thinking like, there's so much for companies to think about. You know, when you. Bring in both audio, but also video as well. Like there's, there's the presentation layer of an agent. You know, like agents are very used to like not ever being seen, so it's kind of totally fine to wear jeans and a hoodie actually. 

Is there a bunch of video enabled agents that dress a little bit nicer, have a nice corporate background or that kind of stuff? So can you route to those folks separately from like the chat and the audio people? So it's a great question and I, I suppose that would be something you'd have to work on on the back end in terms of, you'd have to maybe send that context through and do the routing by your flows, because if you just use, you know, one single flow for it's, it's one flow for your voice and video interactions, and then you are rooted to an agent that either has the ability to turn video on or doesn't. 

Oh, so that's interesting. So can [00:16:00] agents opt in to, like, how does that work? Or do you, do agents get opted in or like, yeah, yeah. So that's, it's part of your security profile. So I suppose you know, a supervisor or manager would be making that decision. Whether to enable it or disable it and then obviously have the granularity of, of having video-enabled agents and non-enabled. 

But you'll have to do some routing and send some context through if you want to route specific things to specific video call agents. Yeah. And it's not a separate flow. Got it. That makes sense. Okay, cool. Cool. Alright, we've skirted around it. Let's, let's talk about cost. What does this cost? Like what, how is it, how is it charged? 

And are you better off getting rid of all your phone lines and just going with this as your voice solution, for instance? Yeah. So this is something that Alex mentioned yesterday. So in some cases well, let's talk about overall First. It is a low cost solution. You know, you still pay your Amazon Connect service service charge per minute, which is. 

I think 0.0018 of a cent a [00:17:00] minute. And then for voice calling over the web. It's 1 cent per minute. Okay. So I think makes it, that makes it cheaper than that makes it cheaper than calling a phone number. So I, I think this is, and we were, we were, we were discussing yesterday, I think as is sometimes the case with the AWS. 

Pricing and a, a good reason to have a good look at the pricing calculators and, and figure out exactly your own use case and how it's gonna be billed. I, I do think it's quite nuanced. Mm-Hmm. So, as, as Bentley mentioned, you've got your Connect service usage charge, which is your 1.80 cents per minute. 

You've then got your in-app. Audio calling, which is the 1 cent per minute. Mm-Hmm. That is going to, depending on your phone number, location. So if I have a, a phone number in the uk, it's gonna cost a certain amount for calls to, to be to be. Delivered on that. The UK cost is relatively low. Whereas if you look at some other countries, it's, [00:18:00] it's quite a bit higher. 

So it might be that for certain use cases, maybe you, you're servicing a lot of customers over in, I, I pick a country as an example, but Estonia is one of those much higher priced ones. It looks more of a sort of complete, no-brainer to say if we, if we moved the, moved the Estonia traffic onto the web calling, yes. 

We could save quite a bit more money. Whereas UK it doesn't look quite so sort of cut-and-dry to me. Oh, okay. Okay. That's, it's relatively expensive then I guess. Like a, a cent, a cent a minute. I mean, it doesn't sound like very much when you say a cent a minute, but comparing it against like Yeah, certainly some. 

You always imagine telephone usage to be more expensive than it is, I think, but it's the economies of scale and maybe we'll see the price change as well as this stuff rolls out and gets more take up, like the economies of scale. We'll bring it down a little bit. Yeah. But that's, that's such a good idea. 

Yeah, I was gonna say that's, that's a really interesting solution that you've sort of positive there around, you know, we'll have a couple of phone numbers. [00:19:00] But actually sometimes we might just push people to the web to, to make a, a call that way. Yeah, agreed. And one other thing just to mention quickly. 

So you also have the distinction between DID numbers, a direct dial, kind of like your, your local phone number compared to TFN's Toll-free numbers. And the toll-free numbers are generally for the same region, quite a bit more expensive. So that might tip the balance as well in favor of the, the the web calling. 

That's interesting. I thi I. I don't know. What do you guys think? I feel like toll-free numbers have a limited lifespan with this kind of tech coming along. Like this is the class, this is the ultimate toll-free experience for customers, isn't it? Yeah. I guess for me anyway, toll-free numbers, they're less of a consideration these days. 

'cause I don't think that many people sort of look that closely at their, their phone bill in terms of, what am I calling my, everything's like included, isn't it? Isn't it? Yeah. Yeah. It's, it's such an old, it feels like quite an old school, like feel-good factor, you know, oh eight hundreds. Like it feel, it [00:20:00] feels like important in some way, you know? 

Yeah. That's interesting. I think the other thing as well, just like for companies planning this stuff out, cost is a really big one. I. But I think thinking about agent Utilisation is important as well, because one of the things with chats is that agents can quite often have 2, 3, 4 chats on the go. 

But obviously you'd really struggle to do that with video audio. You, you're gonna be using a hundred percent of an agent. So you might need more agents if you do that. So, yeah, it's interesting. I think with worth pointing out as well, I think I butchered it before Alex was correct. There's. 1 cent for the audio usage. 

And then if you want to escalate to video, it's 1.50 cent per minute, but you will be charged for both streams. So if the agent and the customer are using video it's 3 cent per minute charged for both legs. Okay? Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. And that's on top of your audio usage and your usage charge. 

Yeah. And I guess there's plenty of other, there's plenty of innovation still to happen in this [00:21:00] area. Like, I mean, I'm thinking things like the recording, like that's, I don't think that's a thing you can do today. Right. But that's, feels like that's, is there a good way of doing that today? If you're like, right, we wanna do video, but we want it recorded. 

I don't even know where to go with that. Like there must be third-party solutions as well, I imagine. But that feels like something that, you know, connect might add later as an additional charge. You'd have thought so. Mm-hmm. At the moment, there's, there's no video recording, just the audio. I'm not aware of any, any third parties enabling that, but yeah, I guess we'll just have to wait and see what comes with that one. 

Yeah, definitely. Alright, excellent. There's lots for companies to think about, I think. Any, any final thoughts on. On this as a feature and, and how you think it's gonna land? I guess we, to counter the, the cost discussion we, we've, we've dug into it a bit, a bit deeper and figured out. I. Actually, it could get quite expensive. 

But then what would the motivators be for taking this up? What are the benefits to the, the customer and the, and the companies? I, I mean, I, I, I [00:22:00] mentioned earlier, I, I would definitely be engaging as a customer via the web channel. I just think it makes total sense given the way that I engage. In conversation for the, the rest of my time. 

And I, I like the fact that we can really empower that improved customer experience. So the, the agent knows what I've been looking at, they know who I am, and they can jump straight into that, that conversation and, and help serve my inquiry. Mm. I, I think in terms of some of the benefits to companies. 

We mentioned ones around may be companies that serve many different countries or perhaps ex-PAC communities, or I mentioned your other locations like Estonia. So perhaps it's quite a bit more expensive to get local phone lines interconnect. It does seem like that the numbers make it more of a, a, a no-brainer to apply it in those situations. 

Or also we mentioned that where you have the value adds, right? So the, the proactive mortgage push was the example we, we gave. Where there's the [00:23:00] potential for maximising those sales processes. You're gonna want to perhaps invest a bit more. It's a real feel-good factor as well. Like for companies looking to have something a bit different as well. 

Being able to kind of talk to somebody and see them. Like it's, it's a very human connection thing as well, isn't it, to to kind of see the person you're talking to. So I wonder if we'll see companies do that as well, like sort of wrap it into their marketing a little bit as well. You know, with a human, human face company you can talk to us, like you can talk to a real advisor and see them and do all that sort of stuff and really market it as a. 

As a bit of a USP. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Interesting. Well, if you are, if you've got questions about any of this stuff, just a reminder that we would love to get your, your questions and we'll try and answer on future shows. You can always email us at podcast at Gentlemen, we could talk all day. 

But it is time to bring this episode to an end. Bentley, thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you very much for having me. Oh, that's all. Thank you very much, Alex. Thanks guys. Thanks Ben. That's alright. Cool. And [00:24:00] thank you everyone for listening. Today we discussed the, the new capabilities for audio and video in the Amazon, what's it called, the communication widget. 

Have I got that right? Yeah. Yeah. Communication. The communication widget. Next week on ACP, we're gonna be looking back to the very first days of Amazon Connect and its rise to prominence, particularly in the banking sector with John Ng, an independent cloud contact Centre consultant. He was there, he saw it all. 

He's got the stories, so be sure to subscribe in your Favourite podcast player. That way you won't miss it. Whilst, you're there. We'd love it as well if you would rate and review us, because as a new podcast, if you have colleagues that you think would benefit from this content, please let them know To find out more about how Cloud interact can help you on your contact center journey. 

Visit We are wrapping this call up now and we'll connect with you next time.[00:25:00]


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