Is Amazon Mayday Indicative of the Future of Contact Centers?

Is Amazon Mayday Indicative of the Future of Contact Centers?

By Tsahi Levent-Levi November 12, 2013 3 Comments
Tsahi Levent-Levi
Is Amazon Mayday Indicative of the Future of Contact Centers? by Tsahi Levent-Levi

After reading about the Amazon Mayday button in the new Kindle, I think many companies will be looking to connect their customers to instant live help. Since most companies don't own the whole pipeline, they'll need infrastructure services to support the connection. Since we’ve been discussing WebRTC for contact centers, this seems like a ripe business opportunity.

How is Mayday Different?

There are several aspects of Amazon's Mayday that are done differently than most solutions out there.

  • Mayday provides a video experience with the contact centers. While others have tried that route in the past, none that I know of had done so as their sole real-time channel to customers; where the customer base is general consumers, numbering in the millions

  • Mayday is embedded as a customer support service into the device itself – and the device (Amazon Kindle tablet) isn't a phone

  • Mayday enables the user to share his tablet's screen with the support person, and the support person to take control of the tablet remotely. This one is possible because Amazon has control over all of the components: the Kindle hardware and software, the backend service provisioning, and the contact center. There is no other tablet in the market with such an integrated customer care solution

  • Mayday runs purely on IP

  • Amazon is targeting 15 seconds wait time

Each and every one of these aspects is new to the industry – especially at this scale and in the market of end consumer devices.

Each one of these aspects is either impossible for other service providers to provide due to technical reasons or simply because it doesn't fit in their business models and offerings.

This move by Amazon is purely targeted at the tablet manufacturers in an effort to differentiate the Kindle Fire from the rest of the pack. Mayday offers a steep barrier to entry, and the question remains whether this will be a key selling point for its new line of tablets.

The customer care industry has just received a Mayday wakeup call, asking them to rethink their strategy and initiatives, raising the bar for care standards.

Device Manufacturers and Mobile OS Vendors

Should Google and Apple start offering the infrastructure and even the service itself for their devices? Are they built to support such an operation? For Apple this may seem like second nature, but I doubt they will go there. And Google is too far from the end result phone to be able to provide an end-to-end solution here.

All the Android manufacturers – is this something they can do? Support their devices via contact centers? I don't envision HTC or Sony taking that route. Maybe Samsung, but it isn't in their DNA, either. This places them in a tight spot, as they are focused on the end device alone and not in the backend services that go along with it.

Service Providers

Service providers have a challenge here. They have provided customer care for years, with large contact centers. They know how to scale contact centers, but they do it for the devices and services via a separate phone call medium – they don't control the whole end-to-end experience the same way that Amazon Mayday does.

Want to know what that means? It reminds me of an old post by Joel Spolsky of his launch of Copilot:

"Your mom calls you up. She says her screen is half grey. You have no idea what the heck she's talking about."

Now that's how an agent usually feels when people contact him with technical issues. It is also how I feel every couple of weeks when my mom calls me.

Now, the way Joel explained it is this:


He went on to create Copilot, a tool that enables sharing and controlling a PC remotely. Similar to Amazon Mayday, I'd say, and something that can greatly enhance the user experience when troubles start on a tablet. Or a phone.

But the service providers don’t have that privilege without pre-installing apps on the tablet or phone – and even then it is more limited than what Amazon has achieved.

But it sure as hell is going to reduce average handling time.

My guess? Service providers are probably looking at this one trying to figure out if and how this fits into their own contact centers.

Amazon's Mayday is new and old at the same time. Old because video and sharing has been tried in contact centers already. New because it integrated the whole package vertically.

Let's see how or if this will reshape the contact center market.

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3 Responses to "Is Amazon Mayday Indicative of the Future of Contact Centers?" - Add Yours

Art Rosenberg 11/16/2013 2:03:09 PM


As consumer become more dependent on their mobile devices, they will need more "help desk" support services. However, the two concerns I have are providing 15 second response times and the "on camera" video role of the agent. I think all of the other factors you mention, including contextual information to the agent, are valid for any mobile customer service.

When a customer is mobile, their communications will be constrained by their situational environment, i.e., can they talk, can they hear, can they look/read, can they touch/type, etc.? That is why I suggested that the "Mayday" response needs UC flexibility, not just the one-way on-camera video approach. "Click-for-assistance" will always be important for online mobile app users, but it will need more flexibility of user modality choice.

(See my recent post at:
Alonzo M Carr 11/17/2013 2:31:13 PM

Nice article Tsahi...


I agree with you 100%, the click-for-assistance has to be more flexible if it's to be adopted.
Do you see the type of functionality being adopted more by a particular industry segment or widely adopted by any organization wanting to improve customer service?
Art Rosenberg 11/26/2013 10:48:10 AM


It all depends on the user interaction need. Each vertical market will have a variety of customer services that can be handled with self-service applications, but if there is any problem in doing so, then flexible "click-for-assistance" will come into play. Also, there will be certain times when customers/consumers have to be seen, e.g., health care, rather than just talking to or exchanging information.

The "click-for-assistance" options need to be customized within individual online applications and, depending upon the mode selected by the customer, different choices can be presented, e.g., "virtual queuing" for a real-time voice or video connection.

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