Amazon recently introduced their new Kindle, and one of the features that has me excited is their new Mayday technology.
Mayday is a brand new way of providing customer support. I haven't tried it (yet!) but from what I understand you simply click a button on the tablet and you are immediately connected with an Amazon customer support representative. The neat part is that the support rep is shown in a video window, and they have full control (if you give it to them) of your device.
From a consumer standpoint the idea is brilliant - If I need help, I just click a button and up pops a video window with a friendly agent who can answer my questions. There's no doubt that consumers will love this service and, if done right, it will be beneficial to Amazon's brand.
However, I do have concerns about Amazon's ability to scale this. What happens on Christmas morning when everyone opens up their new Kindles and tries out the Mayday button? Amazon has publicly stated they have planned for this and that their won't be any delays - However, think about this for a minute... To ensure they won't have any delays, they will have to have a lot of staff ready to go - On Christmas morning, no less. That's going to be an interesting staffing issue.
If the wait times during peak periods gets to be more than a few seconds, Amazon will quickly find out that their new technology frustrates as much as it helps. Imagine if you are promised to be immediately connected to a support agent, but Amazon can't deliver on the promise? I'd be mad.
Knowing Amazon and their penchant for great logistics, I suspect they have planned for this and will handle it quite well. It will be interesting to watch though.
Is live agent support in our future? Some companies are already doing live video support instead of chat or phone support for their premium customers (and charging more for it). Doing video support has a couple of major problems against it:
1) It's expensive. Video demands a one agent to one client ratio and to be successful you have to over staff so there's no delay. Other than phone, no other method of support demands this ratio. Even a good live chat operator can handle multiple chats simultaneously.
2) It's too easy! Almost all of our customers tell us that they want to roll out more customer self service tools - Things like knowledgebases, ticket defection, customer portals, and the like. All of these let the customers find answers themselves before contacting your helpdesk. With Mayday, Amazon doesn't give any incentive for their customers to attempt to solve the problems on their own - Just press the button and be connected to an agent! While it's great for the customer, it can't be good for Amazon's customer service metrics and the cost per interaction will be pretty high. Again, I'm sure that Amazon has thought about this and they have a strategic reason for doing what they are doing, but I know that this approach will not work for every company.
While I can't predict what the future will bring, it certainly will be interesting to watch how this evolves and if Amazon is successful with it.
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