News that Amazon has shut down its Mayday on-screen videochat support service for Fire tablets should come as no surprise, given how quickly video is now evolving to support the broader customer experience.

Billed as the future of customer support at its launch five years ago, the Mayday video-calling feature was claimed to have been used by up to three quarters of Amazon Fire HDX tablet users at some time or other. However, live videochat is an expensive contact channel and even Amazon couldn’t justify such a resource-hungry service. Cost wouldn’t have been the only reason for this decision though, with Amazon no doubt realising that a traditional videochat service simply wasn’t offering enough in terms of video-enabled customer contact.

Given his belief that the regular failure of innovations is an essential part of longer term success, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos won’t be mourning Mayday’s demise. Much of the live Mayday video stream capabilities at its launch are now much better supported and easier to deploy via industry standards such as WebRTC and are therefore available to the mass market. That’s why I believe that we are now in the early stages of a video revolution in contact centres!

The reality is that solutions such as Mayday were created for a customer contact world that never really happened. Back in 2013 experts were predicting the continued decline of voice and a rapid transition towards newer contact channels such as video. Instead, rather than seeing a fall in voice contacts, we’re actually seeing a rebirth of voice with contact centres having to deal with much greater complexity as they’re typically dealing with the issues that customers can’t resolve via self-service. This is leading to more interactions per customer as well as a more general need to help make the voice channel more effective.

 

New generation of video-enabled customer contact

This is where video can prove really effective. For most use cases, customers don’t really need to see the contact centre agent they’re talking to – however, having access to a video-enabled channel for sharing content can lead to significant benefits. Much like earlier co-browsing solutions that allowed customers and agents to share web pages, offering a parallel video channel can provide a great opportunity to share more complex content to help people through more difficult parts of the customer journey.

This typically involves using visual content to walk customers through products and options, sharing images, or using shared content to allow customers to digitally sign a document or approve their terms & conditions. Contact centres adopting this approach report significant uplift in sales performance, more calls resolved first time, higher levels of productivity and much better customer satisfaction.

With around 60% of contact centre calls coming from customers who are online, and the vast majority of customers having access to an online screen during their interaction, adding visual content to a voice conversation has never been easier. For voice agents this means that, instead of potentially frustrating customers by not being able to resolve their issue quickly, they can now call up a parallel video channel and invite the customer to jump on a dedicated screen accessible via a video link.

At Sabio we’re currently working with our clients to build video-enabled contact into their existing customer journeys. Whether it’s the ability to take advantage of WebRTC capabilities or develop focused snap-in style solutions to support specific aspects of a business process, we’re confident that video still has a huge amount to offer in terms of developing brilliant customer experiences. It seems that Amazon’s experiment with Mayday has led them to this conclusion as well!