Nokia USA: Again, your service (not product) is the problem

Nokia Director of Corporate Communications Mark Squires (seen here in a recent MobileJones interview) has joined our conversation about Nokia’s US service problems.

This morning I was encouraged to see that yet another Nokia staffer, Mark Squires (Nokia’s Director of Corporate Communications) left a comment on my blog. He wrote:

“Hi Amy, I work with Charlie at Nokia and have just tracked to your posts. First up sorry that one of our phones has rolled over on you and thank you for your input/thoughts/patience. Charlie and I are based outside of the US but I’ve written to my colleagues who are local to you and brought this matter to their attention. Lets see what can be done, in the mean time feel free to get in tough directly. Mark”

Thanks for joining this conversation Mark. Rather than taking this to private correspondence, I think it’s more beneficial to keep our exchanges on this public, since it affects Nokia’s entire potential US market for your N Series phones. This isn’t just about my personal experience.

You wrote: “Sorry that one of our phones has rolled over on you.”

…Actually, as I explained in my most recent post on this theme, my N95 phone (the device) was NOT the problem in my case. As I’ve expressed several times: the phone itself was great, I loved it. And I do understand that a firmware update to any high-tech device always represents a slight a risk of malfunction.

The main problem was Nokia’s inadequate service for high-end US customers like me.

I’m sorry to harp on the service quality vs. product quality issue, but it’s very important that you and your company understand this distinction. So far, I’m not sure Nokia really gets it. But this key concern could easily make or break Nokia’s attempt to make serious headway in the US high-end cell phone market. I’m continuing to speak up about this because I really do want Nokia to succeed in the US….

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Nokia USA: It’s Not Your Intermediaries, It’s YOU

I was so happy and excited to get my N95 (see video). I could be this happy again, if only Nokia would get its US service and support act together.

As I noted earlier, this morning Charlie Schick of Nokia USA left a comment on this blog to reach out to me about my recent heartbreaking experience with the Nokia N95. Here’s what he said:

“These are the nightmares that we never want to happen.

“I remember in the days before we allowed users to do their firmware updates, this was one of the worries that could have killed the whole process.

“I think what makes it hard for us is all the disintermediation – the, sometimes small but crucial, gap between us and you.

“And what concerns me is that we know when it happens to folks like you who write about it. Yet, that leads us to a one-time fix.

“How can we spread a policy or procedure down the line that helps anyone with this issue (and without costing the company or you an bundle)?

“I don’t know, and any more speculation on my part might be irresponsible.

“For sure, the more folks who bring this up, the more likely the company will come with a plan that can deal with this in a way we are both happy with.”

Here is my response — which I hope will lead to further constructive conversation and perhaps better options for current and would-be US users of high-end Nokia products…

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Where’s Your “Personal Brand,” and Why?

There are lots of different ways to brand yourself.

Yesterday my colleague Jim Kukral wrote about why he’s decided to focus on centralizing his personal brand. He wrote:

“My biggest mistake from the past 7-years or so was not building my personal brand on my own blog hard enough, earlier enough. Some may wonder why someone like me who’s been around for a long time blogging (since 2001), only has about 600 rss subscribers. I’ll tell you why… because I never focused blogging and building my brand here on until recently.”

That got me thinking about and my own “personal brand.” Although I have an innate dislike to the term “personal brand,” I’ll admit it’s a useful and important concept for people in media-related work and many other fields these days.

The simple reason for that, I think, is that these days it’s unwise to rely on any company, organization, or institution to stick by you. The only leverage most professionals have these days depends on their ability to find or make their own opportunities — which means they need to be known as individuals. not just as faceless functionaries.

Jim seems to gauge the success on his personal brand by traffic to his site and feed. For a lot of people and purposes, that’s perfectly valid and appropriate.

But personally, I see a lot of value in the hybrid home base/distributed presence approach to personal branding…

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Bluehost’s Bad Attitude: Customer Service 101

Bluehost‘s director of customer service? Maybe.

More than a year ago, after significant frustrations with Westhost, I switched to Bluehost — and went through the hassle of moving the complex mass of files that this 10-year-old blog has become.

I’m really starting to regret that decision.

When I pay someone for service, at the very least I expect to be treated with respect. Today, Bluehost failed miserably on that front.

One of the main reasons I chose Bluehost was that they offer add-on domains, and I knew I’d need to host a separate domain for another project I’m working on (it wasn’t huge and wouldn’t take up much space or bandwidth, so I saw no point in paying for a separate hosting account for it).

Things were generally going OK with hosting both sites on my Bluehost account, until last November, when Contentious got hacked — someone sniffed my password when I logged on over open wifi and inserted spam into my blog. From that, I learned the importance of using secure login (SSL) for my WordPress blogs.

After much help from Tom Vilot, I was able to get the Admin-SSL WordPress plugin working for (Bluehost tried hard at the time to upsell me on their $45/year SSL certificate and $30/year dedicated IP address, which I thought was ridiculous just to get secure login for a WordPress blog. All I need for that is access to their shared SSL.)

Since my other Bluehost-hosted site on the add-on domain includes a WordPress blog, and since I travel a lot and thus must sometimes rely on open wifi, I wanted to implement Admin-SSL for WordPress on my add-on domain. Tom was trying hard to make that happen, but the secure login kept redirecting to, not the other blog.

On Jan 22 I contacted Bluehost to ask for help with this problem. I finally received a response this morning, Feb. 2, a full 11 days (!!!) after I submitted the request. Here’s what they said, in full:

No SSL on add-on or sub domains. The way our system is set up is to make the main domain the SSL domain, we can not and will not create an SSL for an add-on or sub domain. The only option you have if you need multiple SSL then you must create a new account with us.


Level 1 Support Engineer

Well, that simply sucks, in so many ways…

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Stupid Strategic Commenting v. Smart Engagement

Maggiejumps, via Flickr (CC license)
Clumsiness makes for cute fountains, but horrid blog comments.

One of my most popular posts is: Stategic commenting: No blog is an island. It’s popular for a reason. Lots of people want to learn how to attractive more positive attention through conversational media (including, but not limited to, weblogs). That’s fine. Some of those people are marketers, PR professionals, or business owners. That’s fine, too.

Lately, though, I’ve noticed a disappointing tendency for marketers, PR people, and business people to attempt strategic commenting in a hamhanded and rather thoughtless fashion that’s bound to backfire.

Basically, these people search for blog posts that mention their company, industry, competitors, client, or employer and comment on those posts saying little more than “And speaking of X, we’re great, check us out!”

I hate to break it to those folks, but almost always this commenting approach does NOT constitute a constructive addition to a public conversation. It’s borderline spam, and therefore it reflects poorly on anyone who practices this approach.

Strategic commenting is primarily about contributing value to conversations; not blindly trying to co-opt conversations for your own benefit. If you don’t really know how to comment constructively, then it’s best not to try to use blog commenting to build your business.

Need an example? Here’s a bit of the bad, and the good…

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