A brand new (May)day…a big change for Amazon’s “greatest feature”

A brand new (May)day…a big change for Amazon’s “greatest feature”

I have repeatedly lauded Amazon’s Mayday feature, introduced with the 2013 Kindle Fire tablets. For example, I said:

“There has never been an easier way to get Customer Service…”

I know something about that.

I was a manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore, and of course, there is a lot of Customer Service involved in the success or failure of a physical store.

More relevant here is that, in my job, I take phone calls from users on a help line (I do that maybe one day a week). I can remote into their computers so I can see what they are doing, and I can (with their permission) take over the computer so I can do things for them.

I do it with PC Anywhere, although we are testing another choice.

It can also be done to some extent with Webex, and I have done that.

I’m primarily a trainer, and sure, most of the time I want to train somebody how to do something themselves. However, in some cases it’s just a configuration thing which has to be changed only once, so it doesn’t make sense to teach the caller how to do it when they are in the middle of a mission critical operation. It’s better to just fix it in a case like that.

Sometimes, also, I don’t know what the answer is right away. I may need to do some trial and error to find the solution. Directing someone to perform the steps which fail is counterproductive for them learning how to do something. It’s better that I figure it out, and then either fix it or explain it to them.

Amazon made an amazing step forward with almost instant onscreen help at the touch of a button…and they promoted it heavily. There were many commercials, and Amazon CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Jeff Bezos called it the “…greatest feature we’ve ever made…” in this

The Verge post by Joshua Topolsky

Check out the original Mayday

press release

I have said that it is the reason to buy a Fire tablet rather than another company’s tablet…even if the other tablet might have better specs. That’s especially true for people who aren’t techies. You could give a Fire tablet to someone who doesn’t know how to send an e-mail. That person could just tap a button (it’s not hard to do), and a helpful rep could appear on the screen…and even start the e-mail.

I’ve used it several times: even being very techie, I’ve found it useful. I joked about it here:

“Mayday? I’m bored…”


Karen, one of my regular readers and commenters, recently got one of the newest generation of Fire tablets, which I wrote about here:

Amazon hardware announcements! $50 tablet, 10″ tablet, Fire TV 2

I’ve ordered one, but it’s not here yet.

Karen is an experienced Fire tablet user, and looked for Mayday…and couldn’t find it.

Usually, you just swipe down from the top, and there it is.

Karen went to an earlier gen Fire tablet, and asked the Mayday function on that tablet where it was on the new one. 🙂

Karen reported being told basically that it wasn’t on the new tablet.

Yet, the tablet’s Amazon product page

Fire HD 8, 8″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black (at AmazonSmile:benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

says it does have Mayday**.

So, I asked Amazon.

I was told that it’s different on the new tablets. You don’t evoke Mayday directly from the tablet (so in that sense, the Mayday rep on the older tablet was right).

I was told that when customers call Kindle Support, then they can have screen sharing assistance.

That sounds like something I wrote about earlier this year:

Amazon experimenting with “co-pilot” help function

I thought co-pilot was going to be an option for people on a computer…an enhancement to doing a typical Kindle Support call (which are already great, in my opinion).

That is a very, very different  experience from what we have had on Mayday.

If I’m understanding this correctly (and I’ve asked for clarification), these are the two scenarios:

Previous generation Mayday: puzzled customer swipes down from the top on the tablet, taps the Mayday button, gives permission with a tap, and a live person appears in a video window on the tablet to help.

New generation:  puzzled customer looks for help on the tablet. Puzzled customer finds a link to help on the tablet. Puzzled customer then gets SmartPhone (or landline phone) and calls Kindle Service. Now, communicating on the phone, representative somehow gets permission to screenshare. I’m guessing that whole process is not going to make the fifteen second response time goal set originally for Mayday. 😉

I’ve asked Amazon these questions:

Can the representative control the device, or is the customer just sharing the screen?

How does the customer give permission for the sharing? I know Amazon had been testing a “co-pilot” type option before.

Does the representative have any “presence” on the device? Is there a video window? Is there audio on the device of the representative? Or is the human to human communication all done over the phone?

Will Mayday as we know it, with the video window, still be available on the older models which have it for now?

I’ll let you know what I hear back, and I do expect to hear back. I think, and surveys tend to bear it out, that Amazon has terrific Customer Service.

If it does turn out that initiating Mayday from the tablets is gone in the new gen, that feels like a big step backwards for customers. It might have been essentially unavoidable: Mayday always seemed like it had to be quite expensive. Yes, access to the device could save some real time (it does in my job), but having live people available 24/7 to  do that isn’t cheap.

Some Customer Service reps on Mayday did seem a bit uncomfortable being on screen, and there were some technical issues (especially with hearing the person).

Regardless, it was amazing…but perhaps too good to last?

I’ll keep you informed.

Thanks, Karen!

UPDATE: I did hear back from Amazon…they are really good at that. 🙂 I was given permission to share this response:

” A Mayday Screen Sharing session does not include any video chat. We can see only your screen, unless the camera is activated for troubleshooting purposes. 

– The associate can remotely access the Fire or Fire HD to provide tech support. 

– Associates will always ask for permission before they view areas of devices that contain personal information (email, photos, or personal videos). Agents only see what’s displayed on the screen.

– The Mayday button where a Customer Service associate appears on your screen is only available on Kindle Fire HDX (3rd Generation), Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (3rd Generation), Fire Phone, and Fire HDX 8.9 (4th Generation) devices.”

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

** What it says specifically is that is has “…On-device Mayday Screen Sharing”. I may be significant that “Screen Sharing” is capitalized…making it a named variant to what we’ve known before as simply “Mayday”

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

2 Responses to “A brand new (May)day…a big change for Amazon’s “greatest feature””

  1. Edward Boyhan Says:

    There was some discussion of Mayday over in the Amazon Fire community forum. Someone there asked Amazon about it, and they replied as you’ve posted, but then someone checked Amazon’s sites and the verbiage has been changed to simply “screen sharing” — the “Mayday” moniker has been removed.

    Also on the forum were some questions about the future of the HDX tablets. A couple of tech blogs said that the HDX 8.9 would continue, and would get the Fire OS 5 “bellini” update. That would make the HDX even nicer IMO 😀

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      I suspect I might have some acquaintance with the person who posted. 🙂 Not sure, though.

      Hm…I just checked the $49.99 one: it still said this…

      “Screen Sharing brings Mayday-powered customer service to Fire tablets.”

      They did alter it, but it still says at least “Mayday-powered”.

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