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Amazon's Mayday Button, One Year Later

October 23, 2014

One year ago, e-commerce behemoth Amazon shook up the world of customer support with the introduction of its newest Kindle Fire model that featured a widget called the “Mayday” button. Users of the Kindle who required customer support were able to press the Mayday button and quickly summon a live Amazon customer support agent in a video chat at the corner of the screen. The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That agent, who was promised to appear within 15 seconds, could answer all technical problems and even tell what apps the customer had recently downloaded. The industry press reacted fawningly (it IS admittedly pretty cool), and Amazon’s competitors no doubt suffered some sleepless nights.

One year later, how has it all worked out for Amazon? The company released a little information earlier this year about how the feature is being used. According to Business Insider, the average response time for summoning a live agent is just 9.75 seconds, and 75 percent of questions from Kindle Fire customers now come in through Mayday. Agents have handled questions from customers traveling all around the world, including Australia, Bolivia, Egypt, Kenya, St. Lucia and Venezuela.

Amazon sales reps have worked with customers through Mayday to do everything from beat levels at Angry Birds to how to make a perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (Presumably, however, most questions relate to wonky apps.) Some Amazon reps have even received marriage proposals.

The Mayday button’s most important implication has been to define the competitive landscape.

"Companies could learn a lot from the way Amazon does customer service," said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates. "The focus Amazon has on customers, and has had for years, is often what makes users so sticky to them. It's true of their general Amazon Web site, too. Consumers love good customer service."

The Mayday button is no longer alone. This past spring, cloud CRM solutions provider Salesforce announced the debut of Service SOS for mobile customer support. The feature, available in the company’s Salesforce1 Service Cloud, is also a button that mobile app developers can put onto their apps to allow customers to summon live help immediately. At the time, Salesforce said the SOS button reflects the company’s desire to allow mobile app developers to provide mobile customers with what they need for the way they use their devices.

“The mobile phone has become the dashboard of our lives—we use it to manage how we interact with not only people, but products and companies,” said Alex Bard, EVP and GM of Service Cloud, “As the mobile device becomes every consumer’s channel of choice, it is important companies meet their customers where they are. With Salesforce1 Service Cloud SOS, companies will be able to transform the way they connect with their customers for the mobile era.”

Technologies like WebRTC and the mobile device revolution, are truly changing the way customers connect with companies. It has raised their expectations, and companies that wish to meet these expectations must be prepared to offer the kind of real-time and multichannel help customers demand.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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