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“Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the greatest of them all?” I turn to my Ikea full-length mirror, propped up on a stack of milk crates. For a second, all I see is my reflection. And then, a ding on my phone. I look down. My Amazon order has shipped.

Later that night, I tell Tushar of this strange experience. “I have been writing about the genius of Amazon’s customer service for months, now,” I tell him. “Is it true, are they the greatest of them all?”

Tushar smiles. “There is always more to the story than meets the eye… or the mirror image of the eye.”

Amazon has a lot of money. The average revenue per user is so high that they can afford to spend money on customer service. The Mayday button, which is often lauded as a brilliant customer care move, is actually just a product feature. So, they are using customer care as a differentiating feature. If you have a Microsoft tablet do you get to talk to someone? Probably not. If you have an Android device, do you get to talk to someone? Probably not. But if you have the Kindle Fire you get to talk to someone. It is like Siri on the iPhone; a differentiating feature. People are able to interact with this feature in many ways, in the same way that people use Siri as a help tool and for entertainment.

Let’s not try and copy Mayday, though. You have to look at the fundamentals behind it. Behind its literal function, is a retention tool. “Provide a button for on-demand support and care” is what they probably thought at its genesis. On-demand care has a direct relationship with engagement and retention, and that’s why it has a direct relationship with revenue. Now you-as-a-company-which-is-not-Amazon, have to adapt to what works best for you. Helpshift has taken the philosophy of “Increase engagement through customer care” and delivered it as a product that can be used by everybody who is not an Amazon.

There is a need for on-demand help. But if you don’t have the resources for a Mayday-copycat, what do you do? Well, for one, your FAQs can incorporate predictive text in the search bar. Predictive FAQ search mirrors Google search, in that, as the user types their question users are immediately presented with FAQs that match common keywords or phrases. Ultimately reducing the time it takes for a user to resolve their issue. Good, helpful FAQ content deserves a robust content management system that allows you to update knowledge base content in real time. Otherwise, in order to keep your customers informed and customer support queues at bay, you will need to submit an update to the App Store or Google Play. For example, if I suddenly realize there is a problem with my app then I can quickly go to the backend system and update my FAQs. Now, everyone who opens the help button will see related, FAQs. If you have static FAQs, though, you have to update your app in order to fix the problem or to alert users of the problem. All FAQs are not created equal. FAQs are a shield for when something goes wrong.

People think that when they put an FAQ in their app they have solved all their problems. It’s more than that; it’s providing dynamic FAQ content that can be used, can be updated, can be curated for the type of user I am, the type of device I’m on, and the type of language I want to read my FAQs on. They have to be personalized. 90% of businesses don’t do that.

As a business provider, it is your duty to make it easy for your customer to contact you. Because if you don’t, they are either going to leave your app or (worse, perhaps) stay, but be dissatisfied with it until they eventually leave.

Tushar walks over to my mirror. He looks at his reflection thoughtfully and says, “It is not Amazon who is the greatest of them all, it is each feature and application that makes help simple. There are many greats in this world. I could as easily crown myself the greatest as I could Amazon.” He laughs merrily. “But there is no need. We can all be greats, if we just allow the tenets of good customer care to be incorporated into our mobile apps.”

Published February 21, 2016
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