• November 1, 2015
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

How Amazon and Salesforce.com Are Shaping Mobile Customer Support

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It's been two years since Amazon introduced the Mayday Button, allowing users of its Kindle Fire HDX tablets to connect via video chat to live customer service agents. The online retailer also preloaded the Mayday Button as a standard feature on its Fire smartphone, which it launched in mid-2014.

In introducing the Mayday Button, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said, the goal was to "revolutionize tech support." The company has done this with aplomb.

"When it came out, [the Mayday Button] was very innovative," says George Skaff, chief marketing officer at Touch Commerce, a provider of mobile chat solutions. "It created an opportunity for Amazon to differentiate and to get people to buy more [Kindle] devices."

Today, 75 percent of customer contacts related to the Fire HDX come into Amazon via the Mayday Button, the free service that is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The Mayday Button's appeal isn't surprising, given its blissful simplicity. No numbers to dial. No IVR menus and phone trees to navigate. No waiting on hold to speak to an agent. Just push a button and get a human to help, usually in 10 seconds or less.

"It provides a single, clear mechanism for getting assistance. It's not much more complicated than that," says Keith Dawson, a principal analyst at Ovum. "Clearly, the itch that it scratches is simplicity; its presence is reassuring because it holds out the promise of a fast, effective resolution to common problems."

The Mayday Button, Dawson says, changed customer service in one important way: "From this point forward, Mayday is a signal that businesses see service as a way to differentiate, not just as a cost to be controlled," he states.

So naturally, like a lot of what Amazon does, the Mayday Button prompted the CRM industry to take notice. In fact, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff became almost obsessed with creating an enterprise version of the Mayday Button. That obsession led to the mid-2014 beta launch of Salesforce Service SOS, a mobile support offering that enables businesses of any type to put Mayday Button–like functionality directly inside their Android or iOS mobile apps. With it, companies can give customers instant access to support agents, who can then offer live video support and onscreen guided assistance.

The SOS button, which is completely integrated with the Salesforce Service Cloud, can be branded, placed anywhere in the mobile app, and made available to whichever customers the company wants. "It's really the Mayday experience brought to market for any company," Larry Robinson, vice president of product management for Salesforce Service Cloud, said in a statement at the time of the launch. "We want any company to play like Amazon does."

Robinson says there is "an amazing number of use cases" for Service SOS. "It has applicability virtually anywhere that companies want to connect with their customers," he says.

"We're already seeing some amazing in-pilot programs by customers across industries, from financial services to travel to retail," adds Sarah Patterson, senior vice president of product marketing for the Salesforce Service Cloud. "We are excited by the possibilities that our mobile technologies present for the future of service. And we are excited to develop technologies for that new era of connected support across mobile, [the Internet of Things], and more, as we help companies stay ahead of the curve."

Soon after launching Service SOS, Salesforce.com rolled it into the larger Service for Apps suite, along with four other services that can be embedded within mobile apps:

• Chat for Apps, an instant messaging feature;

• Tap-to-Call for Apps, which enables customers to access live telephone support from within the mobile app;

• Knowledge for Apps, which allows companies to offer knowledge articles and FAQs within an app and also convert crowd-sourced content into knowledge articles; and

• Cases for Apps, which enables customers to share photos and location information with agents and also allows agents to escalate cases to experts who can more quickly resolve them.

Many other similar mobile apps have followed SOS and the Mayday Button. SightCall, for example, last fall introduced SightCall Video Support Agent for Salesforce, a customer support video chat solution that supports both iOS and Android. Features in the app enable agents and customers to co-browse and interact using a pointer and annotation. Agents can also open Web pages on the customer's device. A video stream manipulation and capture feature enables agents to freeze or pause the live video stream. A new Snap-Shot feature lets companies capture the marked-up video stream.

In designing the app, SightCall CEO Thomas Cottereau says the company's goal was to "create a customer service experience that would surpass Amazon Mayday and Salesforce SOS for Apps."

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