The days of scanning user manuals to figure how to make a gadget or app work are finally evolving into more intuitive experiences and better support options to help puzzled customers out — including video.
Case in point: Amazon, a brand bankers drool over, has equipped its newer Kindle Fire HDX tablets with an interesting SOS feature: an on-demand video customer service representative. The support tool, Mayday, lets a user conjure up a video chat with an Amazon agent to troubleshoot any what-am-I-doing moments. Amazon aims to answer any query within about 15 seconds.
Financial intuitions eager for customers to resolve their own mobile banking issues could emulate the feature in their smartphone and tablet apps.
"Banks could probably make dozens of excuses for not adding the functionality, but obviously visionaries like Bezos [Amazon's CEO] believe enough in improving the customer experience to lead the charge," says Jim Marous, senior vice president of corporate development at New Control and author of the Bank Marketing Blog. "This will be a foundational requirement eventually for banking, I believe. It is just a matter of when a bank will step in front and offer the capability."
Banks have been testing "video teller" kiosks for months. But the feature from Amazon stands out in two ways: Mayday prevents an agent from "seeing" the person chatting with him (eliminating any customer concerns about their appearance) and, more importantly, lets the support agent commandeer his screen - and draw on it - to teach and train the user.
Financial institutions, which have long been criticized by analysts for failing to communicate the digital features they offer, could build similar support tools in their apps to help people use self-service channels to address service concerns and for more complicated tasks, some industry observers say.
"[A] Mayday-like feature in tablet banking can be offered to customers to promote and solve complex onboarding issues when customers apply for mortgages or other banking products that would normally require a banking adviser to be present to assist with the transaction," says Deva Annamalai, senior vice president of marketing technology and data insights at Zions Bancorp. "This can also be further extended as a sales tool when branch personnel help with remote assistance to their customers.
"I foresee features like Mayday changing how customers want to be serviced in the digital channel in the future."
A Celent report published in July boldly declared video banking will become an important component of retail delivery across all digital channels. Banks already make use of videoconferencing. mBank in Poland, for example, makes video available on online banking, while USAA, known for innovating faster than its competitors, offers video chat on its website. But the video chat feature is still rare.
"I think banks have really missed an opportunity to connect with customers instantly either through video or text in mobile and online banking applications," says Marous.
More typical in the U.S, but still far from standard, are credit unions and banks testing the use of video tellers in branch kiosks or at ATM locations. In such models, financial institutions cut operational costs by centralizing their would-be tellers and scout out for talent that's comfortable in front of a camera. To be sure, banks also make assistance available through email, live chat, predictive online customer support, and more old-school methods like call centers and branches.
And ultimately, of course, the best user experience delivered would require little technical support. As Bradley Leimer, who leads digital strategy at Mechanics Bank in California, tweeted on New Year's Eve:
@bornonjuly4 their streaming still sucks and their tablet isn't anywhere near the iPad Air. Mayday is great, but great UX shouldn't need it.— Bradley Leimer (@leimer) December 31, 2013