THE BLOG
12/02/2013 08:28 am ET Updated Feb 01, 2014

Amazon a Customer Service Champ One Day, Chump the Next?

In the land of brand recognition and reputation management, Amazon scaled a massive peak with the launch of its groundbreaking 'Mayday' button, then fell off of a cliff with its announcement on 60 Minutes that it has plans for creepy drones to deliver Amazon orders to our doorsteps (within 30 minutes or less?). Can you imagine a world filled with delivery drones? Twitter lit up instantly and the topic is now a joke in most social media channels.

Amazon doesn't seem to think it is a joke, however. Check out this new video it released to promote its drone deliveries.

The drone interview on 60 Minutes was a sad end to what was a good year for the Amazon brand. Amazon had the consumer's attention with Mayday, a button on the recently released Kindle Fire HDX's home screen that instantly launches a user into a videoconference with an Amazon technical support representative who can then take control of the user's tablet as necessary, ultimately providing more accurate solutions, likely in less time. Even better, use of the Mayday service is free.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, perhaps said it best in a news release:

With the Mayday button, our goal is to revolutionize tech support. With a single tap, an Amazon expert will appear on your Fire HDX and can co-pilot you through any feature by drawing on your screen, walking you through how to do something yourself, or doing it for you -- whatever works best. Mayday is available 24x7, 365 days a year, and it's free.

The Kindle was on fire and the Amazon brand was rocking prior to Bezos' drone discussion. Perhaps it was a publicity stunt? Regardless of its ineptitude, the drone talk is not likely to sway the Kindle's dedicated user base, or even remotely slow down sales. The Kindle can seemingly do no wrong. My wife and I bought my mom a Kindle for Christmas when it first launched. In those days it resembled an actual print book in size and in how the text was displayed. My mom fell in love with it instantly. The paperback was dead to her from then on. She has owned every version of the Kindle since, including the new Fire HDX.

My mom is part of an important demographic for Amazon -- one that grew from a group of voracious readers who had previously purchased books through clubs, receiving multiple titles at a time, and who had been converted by the original Kindle. That demographic is aging and most seniors have different computing needs than 30-year-olds. For seniors, Mayday may represent the difference between buying a Kindle or not. The boomer generation is huge, by the way, which means the audience for Mayday is huge. Do they care if Bezos wants to send them books by drone?

Even though I've been a Prime member for over five years and have always had a good experience with Amazon, I'd never thought of it as a customer service champion prior to Mayday. It had a profound impact on my view of Amazon as a company and of Bezos as a leader. It was as if his squabble over Brad Stone's book had never happened. Now though, after this creepy drone announcement, we are back to square one in the brand loyalty/customer trust department. Perhaps Mayday, in its implied greatness, is just another Amazonian invasion of our privacy we should be wary of.