Move Over, Siri: The New Breed of Mobile Holiday Helpers
Apple first introduced the world to its personal digital assistant, Siri, in October 2011. Since then, millions of consumers have adapted to the idea of having a personal concierge with them at all times. Need directions? Siri can help with that. Want to know where the nearest Starbucks location is? Siri can help with that, too.
More recently, we were introduced to another mobile helper, Amazon Mayday. Not sure how to connect your Kindle to your TV? Not a problem. A live video agent can help you get that all sorted out with the tap of a screen. And in June 2014, Amazon.com announced that Mayday will also be part of every Amazon Fire phone, offering live video tech support to all users.
If early feedback holds up, mobile users will come to expect Mayday-type of live video assistance whenever — and wherever — they need help. Unlike other forms of customer service such as email, live video assistance offers instant gratification and a more personal experience. It's similar to being in-store and having an associate assist with a sale or product question. Live assistance sessions have proved to be a profitable investment for retailers for years, beginning with live chat and evolving to include co-browsing sessions and now live video. Furthermore, as mobile is quickly trending to become the dominant channel for e-commerce, live video assistance on mobile devices is being touted as the future of customer service.
With the 2014 holiday season rapidly approaching, there's no doubt that this year we'll see record levels of mobile commerce. In 2013, more than one in four holiday e-commerce orders in the U.S. came from mobile devices. Mobile devices continue to gain e-commerce purchase share already in 2014. This June, the share of mobile orders increased to 21 percent, up from 16 percent in June 2013. Despite this growth, mobile commerce sessions still convert at a fraction of the rate of desktop and tablet sessions — often at roughly 25 percent of desktop rates.
For the 2014 holidays, retailers need to do all they can to convert their mobile traffic. Whether it's completing a sale or helping a consumer make the decision to go to the store to finalize a purchase, live video assistance can help, particularly given the user interface challenges associated with mobile screen size.
There are, however, a few considerations retailers should make when adding live video assistance to their mobile apps. First, you'll want to make the experience as seamless as possible for the shopper. That means no additional downloads required. They've already downloaded your app, so you shouldn't expect them to have to download additional software to their phone or tablet to communicate with you. Or, if they're on the mobile web, they should be able to click in, with no download required.
Second, give consumers the option of remaining unseen — i.e., they can see the agent, but the agent can't see them. Let's face it, no one wants to chat with their favorite retail brand after just rolling out of bed. Lastly, while video is the watchword, it's features such as remote control of the device, finger painting by the operator on the customer's screen, and co-form filling that combine with video to deliver a truly high-value experience.
Technologies such as Siri and Amazon Mayday will continue to have an impact on consumer expectations. This means major implications for brands and retailers, which will be expected to offer the mobile concierge experience as part of their omnichannel strategies in the coming years. With the holidays around the corner, are you prepared to build customer relationships and engagement with your mobile shoppers?
James Keller is the CEO of Vee24, a provider of live video assistance solutions.