With the growth and advancement of voice AI like Amazon Alexa, hundreds of millions of devices support voice-activated commands to take care of simple tasks through Alexa skills. However, today, when an Alexa customer wants to call a business, they have to know the business’s phone number and speak it out for Alexa to call, add the businesses to their contacts, connect their phone plan, or separately call the number on their phone. Calls cannot be placed directly from Alexa skills, limiting how companies can use Alexa skills for customer engagement. For example, a customer can ask a skill from an insurance company who their agent is, but they cannot easily ask the skill to call their agent and make that call directly through the Alexa device.
Today, Amazon Chime SDK is launching Alexa skill calling, a feature that allows Alexa-enabled devices to provide a first-class customer engagement experience that’s integrated with existing customer engagement workflows. With skill calling, businesses can enable calling directly in their own Alexa skills, making Alexa devices a convenient way for customers to engage with their favorite businesses. Customers can enable calling for individual skills, without the need to separately enable Alexa calling in their Alexa app. Calls are made through simple voice commands, so there is no need to remember phone numbers. Alexa customers can benefit from a shorter call duration because agents can see existing customer profile information or previous customer contact information. Users also benefit from wide band audio quality with optional background noise reduction provided by Amazon Chime SDK Voice Focus. For businesses, the skill calling capability provides an opportunity to develop innovative Alexa support features utilizing over 100+ million Alexa devices to enable hands-free calling. This includes use cases while watching TV, using IoT devices, and more. Additionally, because calls are placed using the Amazon Chime SDK the support experience can be easily integrated with existing customer engagement infrastructure creating a consistent experience for users whether they are calling from an Alexa device, or reaching the company on other channels such as a website or mobile application.
To get started, trusted skill developers open the Amazon Chime SDK console and create a new SIP Media Application, then turn on the option for Alexa Calling under Alexa Skill Configuration. This will enable Alexa Calling in the Alexa Developer Console. Skill developers can then enable calling from an existing skill by opening the Amazon Chime SDK administration console, purchasing a new phone number, and associating it with a SIP rule, and SIP Media Application (SMA). Skill Developers then follow steps provided to embed auto-generated code associated with their SMA in their Alexa skill. Steps include adding one or more calling intents, adding slots, and adding custom code for calling. In the skill, developers can also add an identifier in the SIP header that can be used in SMA for inbound calls to look up context. Once the skill is published, end users use the new calling intents to create the inbound calls to the destination phone number provided. Routing calls directly through Amazon Connect will be possible in the future.
Salesforce, a strategic AWS partner, has an extensive customer base that can take advantage of the new Amazon Chime SDK skill calling to solve their customers’ unique needs. “Salesforce enables organizations to deliver highly personalized, real-time customer experiences at scale. This requires connecting with customers through their preferred communication channels, including the most powerful channel of all, the human voice,” says Ryan Nichols the SVP & GM of Contact Center for Salesforce Service Cloud. “Alexa calling turns voice into a truly digital channel, enabling seamless omnichannel experiences when combined with Salesforce’s Customer 360. This enables a great customer experience at a lower cost to serve.”
Alexa calling is a powerful new feature that would allow our customers to use simple voice commands from their own Alexa Skill to reach business users without having to repeat their personal information. For example, our financial services customers could simply say ‘Alexa, ask Bank to call my advisor.‘ By doing so, we can enable our customers to create more efficient experiences, deepen relationships and drive greater brand loyalty.”
The diagram below shows the typical flow for a call. The call is initiated by the user, invokes the custom skill built by the skill builder, then is routed to Amazon Chime SDK PSTN Audio where the skill developer manages the routing of the call into their existing support flows.
To learn more about the Amazon Chime SDK integration with Alexa Communications please see our: