Last September, when Amazon announced and unveiled the Mayday button, a video-based live support solution that lets Kindle HD customers contact remote tech support, the news was broadly received with both wonder and skepticism. While live video customer service has long been discussed in the customer service and call center support industry, it has taken time for technology innovations and consumers to get used to interacting directly with customer service representatives outside of a phone call. Plus, video is an expensive proposition that does not have any guarantee of decreasing call center costs or increasing customer satisfaction.
Amazon, with its world-class technology infrastructure, took a big gamble and during last year’s holiday season the bet paid off. Mayday calls were answered by reps in just 9 seconds on average – delighting customers and driving loyalty. The solution was a clear win-win for all involved, and Amazon proved that the model worked.
American Express (News - Alert) took notice. On Feb. 10, it quietly released a video customer service feature on its iPad app. This move makes perfect sense for Amex on a few levels. First, it’s a brand enhancer. The foundation of Amex’s brand promise is to deliver great customer experiences, and it is constantly raising the bar to enhance cardholder benefits to stay competitive in a crowded and noisy market. And second, iPad demographics generally overlap with Amex users. Amex cardholders are relatively high net worth and are more likely to have the most recent iPad, making video delivery of customer service possible. It’s important to deliver this service on a high-end device so that the experience is optimal.
Both Amazon and Amex are signaling the future of how companies will deliver customer service on mobile. Although few organizations have integrated customer service into their apps, this will certainly become the norm within a few years. The organizations that are interested in experimenting with this feature should keep the following things in mind.
Mobile Can Help Deliver a More Relevant Customer Experience
If the mobile device is GPS-enabled and connected to the Internet, a customer service agent can immediately know much more about the consumer to deliver better value.
Assuming that the consumer has allowed this information to be shared, the brand can understand where consumers are, what they are doing, and when they are doing it. And, if a customer is logged in, then they also know all of a consumer’s account information. All of these things together provide a powerful context for a successful customer interaction.
One-Way Communication is the Key
It’s important to understand that this is not about videoconferencing with customers, which can open up a huge can of legal and privacy worms.
This is about one-way communication, using WebRTC technology, where a consumer can see and hear a customer service agent, and the agent can take control of the mobile screen to help troubleshoot an issue or show a consumer how to do something.
Video Humanizes the Interaction and Inspires Loyalty
Unfortunately, many customer service experiences leave consumers frustrated because the dynamic is often scripted, or automated by a machine, and it often seems to take too much time and effort to solve a simple problem. Consumers want to be heard and understood. By introducing video, consumers have a real human to help them, and the experience immediately feels more personal and authentic. It lowers frustration levels, as it’s less likely that consumers will vent if they see the person that they are talking to. It also forges a stronger connection to the brand. On a live video stream, customer service agents are transformed into brand ambassadors who become custodians and representatives of the brand.
We are at the very beginning of this technology wave, and it’s inspiring to witness organizations like Amazon and Amex demonstrate what’s possible and where the industry is headed. But the real underlying lesson behind these moves is that delivering customer service on mobile devices will soon become an imperative and an important point of differentiation. Although most companies aren’t ready to take the leap into video, all businesses with mobile strategies should consider incorporating live chat into their apps. With the overwhelming adoption of smartphones and tablets, the organizations that deliver great customer experiences on mobile devices will drive customer service efficiencies and – more importantly – win the hearts and minds of consumers.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi