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Amazon wants Alexa to answer customer service calls

A new suite of AWS products is designed to put call centers in the cloud.
Andrew Dalton, @dolftown
February 28, 2017
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Rick Wilking / Reuters

In the near future, Amazon's Alexa could be on the other end of your next call to tech support. With call centers expected to become a more than $15 billion industry in the next five years, the online retail giant has apparently identified another market that is ready for a shift in technology. According to a new report from The Information, Amazon is currently prepping a commercial version of Alexa developed specifically for fielding questions from phone calls and text messages.

Amazon Web Services has reportedly codenamed the new software package "Lily" and it is expected to be formally announced around the middle of March. Baked into Lily's suite of products are Lex and Polly -- two AWS developer services that use the same natural language processing as Alexa to power third-party apps as well as voice and text chatbots. The software is designed to be completely self-service from a caller's perspective, although companies will still need to hire (or outsource) service representatives for matters that need a human touch. The service also integrates with Salesforce and promises a real-time access to a customer's call history, so frustrated callers should be able to skip the endless phone menus when they dial that customer service line the second or third time.

On the other hand, it's been a rough day for AWS, so Amazon may have a hard time getting companies with time-sensitive customer service needs to put their trust in a cloud-based solution.

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