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TECHNOLOGY

Nailing the Convenience Factor in Customer Service

Companies must invest in technology to develop services that customers won't remember ever living without

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Amazon.com, the self-proclaimed world's most customer-obsessed online retailer, has unveiled a game-changing customer service offering called Mayday. And although it has nothing to do with the company's much-hyped plan for using drones to deliver packages, it, too, is all about convenience.

Mayday is a help button on the company's new Kindle Fire HDX tablet that connects the user directly to an Amazon representative via live video. (The user can see the Amazon agent, but the agent can only hear the user--so don't worry about your bed-head.) The service is designed to provide help with any type of policy or product question within 15 seconds, 24/7, free of charge.

Customers Desire Convenience

Amazon's new service is just the latest example of how convenience has been at the heart of nearly every new consumer innovation we now take for granted. With iTunes and Spotify, we have every song we've ever wanted waiting in our pockets; with Yelp and Google, we can find every restaurant that serves any kind of food in any city; and with social media, we have up-to-the-minute information about what our friends, family, and disparate networks are reading, seeing and doing.

The best companies make convenience a top priority. For Avis that means no more waiting in line. Instead, download the Avis app on your smartphone and look for reservation details including the numbered spot where your car is waiting with the keys in the ignition. For Warby Parker it means not just answering customer service questions on Twitter, but recording a personal video answering the questions, then tweeting that video to the customer. The eyeglasses retailer found that those videos have even higher engagement than some of its marketing videos.

Adding convenience is an opportunity for companies of all sizes. While big companies can leverage their resources and scale to build their convenience factors, small companies can take advantage of their nimbleness, flexibility, and more intimate customer relationships to cater to the customer in ways big companies cannot.

How Can You Make Your Customers' Lives Easier?

The future of service is about using smart technology to make service so streamlined that the customer doesn't realize how annoying something used to be. For example, Clothes Horse aggregates the measurements of thousands of people along with the actual measurements of different brands. The idea is that when you're shopping for clothes online, you can click a Clothes Horse button that leverages your personal profile to find the perfect fit. No more ordering three sizes just to get the right one.

With the Mayday button, Amazon is setting a new bar in digital convenience. The company is sending the message that no matter when or where you have an issue, a real person will be there within seconds with a friendly face to help you. If you're not similarly investing in technologies that increase the convenience factor in your industry, it won't be long before your competitors forge ahead. If that happens, soon you may find yourself focused on a more traditional Mayday call--the emergency cry for help that means the ship is going down.

IMAGE: courtesy of Amazon
Last updated: Dec 6, 2013

JORDY LEISER is the co-founder and CEO of Stellaservice.com, a company that goes undercover to stress-test customer service performance every day for retailers. Leiser has appeared on CNBC and NPR, and has been quoted in a number of publications, from The Wall Street Journal to Forbes to WWD. He graduated from Bucknell University with a degree in economics and political science.
@StellaJordy




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