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….

In my case, Nokia’s unreasonably clunky and risky firmware update process (a service you offer and control) bricked my N95. A Nokia rep then told me that, despite your warranty, you would not absolutely guarantee that you’d fix or replace it free of charge — and also that I’d have to ship my phone off for repair (a further hassle and expense for me). Nokia also did not offer me a loaner during the repair period.

But the final dealbreaker was that, due to your long turnaround time for service (up to a month), I faced a considerable risk of not getting my N95 back from Nokia before Amazon’s refund window for this pricey device (30 days from date of purchase) closed on me.

That’s probably not the best way to treat buyers of your premium products. Especially in a new market where you’re trying to make headway against strong competition (the Apple iPhone). And especially since potential users of your high-end phones are already talking to each other on blogs, forums, social media, etc. — while so far Nokia is conspicuously silent on the matter.

Why do I care so much that Nokia succeed in the US high-end market? Because I was quite impressed with the N95. I think that particular device could prove especially useful to professional journalists, citizen journalists, and mobloggers throughout North America. These people need and want pro-quality tools like the N95 right now. So I want this kind of product to be easily available to these people — but only if they don’t have to assume unacceptable risks in the process.

That’s the problem with Nokia USA’s poor service and support for the N95 currently: You’re foisting too much risk onto your users. That’s not a reasonable strategy, given that Apple (your existing competition in the US high-end market) has a proven track record of quality service. Plus, you’re directly undermining your own high-profile (and undoubtedly costly) US marketing push for the N Series.

People who are willing to fork over a premium price for a premium product are entitled to reasonable assurance that they will also receive fast, quality support and service. Right now, would-be US N Series users lack that assurance.

It’s not reasonable for Nokia N-Series users to live in fear of your firmware update process, to the point of tolerating decreased performance. It’s not reasonable to expect us to wait up to a month, plus dealing with the hassles of shipping, for any kind of service or replacement for such a crucial device. It’s not reasonable to leave us wondering whether we’ll be stuck with a bill despite your warranty. And it’s not reasonable for Nokia to sell its own phones for nearly $200 more than other US online retailers.

If Nokia USA is unwilling or unable to offer appropriate service for its high-end devices, along the lines of my earlier suggestions, then perhaps it might have been better never to debut your N Series phones in the US market at all. From the consumer’s perspective, the current situation feels like a bitter tease. That’s only going to generate ill will and market resistance toward Nokia.

If Nokia doesn’t improve its US service, eventually, Apple WILL take over the high-end phone market. That is, whenever they get around to it. I don’t think high-end users like me are Apple’s top priority — just yet.

Personally, I’d rather not wait for Apple to catch up with the kind of device that Nokia already offers. I’d rather have the pro-quality moblogging tool I want NOW, since I know it exists. But the device alone is not enough — I also need prompt quality service that doesn’t leave me unduly in fear or at risk.

Service, fortunately, is something that Nokia CAN improve, if it chooses. I’m not asking Nokia to do more than you can realistically accomplish — but I am pointing out that you DO have feasible options to rescue the high-end US market, both immediately and in the long term. The ball’s in your court.

Mark, I understand that you and Charlie Schick are just two individuals within a large international company. I assume you face complex internal politics at Nokia. And I deeply appreciate your initial small steps to engage me and your US market on this topic publicly through this blog. That’s more than most companies (especially Apple) would do.

I’m also encouraged that Nokia recently launched its own Conversations blog. I (and many other current and would-be US N Series users) would love it if you could start addressing your US service problems on your own blog, or through other Nokia channels. We’re willing to work with Nokia to help you find solutions to improve your US service. My earlier suggestions were just a starting point for that conversation.

So Mark (and anyone else from Nokia): Where do we go from here? What will it take to make constructive action to improve your US service happen? What will Nokia do — and how can your potential US high-end customers help?

I look forward to hearing more from Nokia on this,

Amy Gahran

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

  1. Pingback: Nokia Conversations

  2. Pingback: - Nokia’s Blog Starts Discussing Problems

  3. More than happy to keep this public Amy, it makes a change for me to blog on phones instead of my other hobby. I did understand your posts too, but I wanted to keep our responses through Charlie so we hold one main exchange as a record of all the comments. To answer your question ‘where do we go from here’ – is for us to take your comments straight to the folks at Nokia Care and Nokia USA and try to get some answers to the points you have raised, we have already put this in motion. Will it change anything? I don’t know yet, as you rightly say ‘its all talk so far’ but what I do know that the people we have discussed this with so far are open to feedback and willing to listen. What I don’t want to do is lose the points you’ve made in comparisons with other companies, the questions that are being asked are good enough to stand on their own. We’ll see what comes back to us and then we will post again…

  4. Pingback: - Nokia USA: How to turn talk into action

  5. Thanks, Mark. I’m glad to hear that you and Charlie are discussing the issues I and other bloggers have been raising about Nokia USA. I hope that on your conversations blog you’ll update us on progress on that front — the good, the bad, and the hard-to-tell.


    – Amy Gahran

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