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

MobileJones
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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Breaking Out of the Echo Chamber

OpenDemocracy, via Flickr (CC license)
What might this Malian girl and I have in common, and what might we learn from each other? How could we know if we can’t really connect?

This morning I listened to an excellent Radio Open Source interview. Host Christopher Lydon was talking to Global Voices Online founder Ethan Zuckerman and GVO managing editor Solana Larsen. I’m a huge fan of GVO and read it regularly — mainly since I enjoy hearing from people in parts of the world I generally don’t hear much about (or from) otherwise.

One of the most interesting parts of the discussion concerned how homophily shapes our individual and collective view of the world. Homophily is a fancy word for the human equivalent of “birds of a feather flock together.” That is, our tendency to associate and bond with people we have stuff in common with — language, culture, race, class, work, interests, life circumstances, etc.

Zuckerman made a profound point: Homophily makes you stupid. Which is another way of saying something my dad told me a long, long time ago:

“You’ll never learn anything if you only talk to people who already think just like you.”

Here’s what Zuckerman actually told Lydon about how homophily makes it hard for people from around the world to relate constructively…
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I’m getting my Nokia N95, but not from Nokia

Nokia
The Nokia N95-3, which will be in my hands tomorrow, no thanks to NokiaUSA or LetsTalk.com.

On Sunday, I finally took the plunge and ordered a serious moblogging tool: the Nokia N95-3, finally available in the US. (It’s been out in Europe for a couple of years.) It’s got everything I want: a good camera (still and video), pretty good audio recording quality, real gps, wifi, a decent web browser, an OS that allows third-party apps, works easily with a folding bluetooth keyboard — and it also happens to be a cell phone, too. (So I can finally ditch my landline, a needless expense these days.)

I ordered it directly from NokiaUSA.com, with 2-day shipping. Or so I thought. Actually, Nokia funnels its online US sales through a company called LetsTalk.com.

This morning — the day I was expecting to receive my N95 — I get an e-mail from LetsTalk.com saying that they need “more information” from me to complete this transaction. So I call them and give them my order number.

This is the really annoying part: LetsTalk.com did not need any more information from ME — they really needed to hear from my credit card company, American Express. Mind you, they already had my AmEx account information. But for some bizarre unknown reason they stalled this sizeable purchase by requiring ME to call THEM — for nothing at all!

Here’s how LetsTalk.com wanted to proceed: They said they would allegedly contact AmEx today to have AmEx call me to verify this transaction by phone. Then AmEx was supposed to call LetsTalk.com back with the OK. And then, finally, allegedly, LetTalk.com would ship this phone to me.

I had a better idea: I canceled that purchase and went to Amazon.com. There I found the exact same phone, keyboard, and carrying case. And I bought it from Amazon. I even splurged $15 for overnight shipping, so it’ll arrive tomorrow. (Well, the carrying case may take a day extra. Big deal.)

And here’s the beauty of it: NokiaUSA (via LetsTalk.com) was going to charge me about $860 total.

Grand total, with shipping, via Amazon: $675.47.

Yep, I saved about $185 by choosing better service. Suits me.

Twitter Up, Blogging Down

Yes, I’m Twittering more than I’m blogging here lately. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Just a few minutes ago, Jeremiah Owyang posted to Twitter:

“Is your blogging reducing due to Twitter usage? It has for Adam Stewart.”

…So I hopped over to see what Adam Stewart had to say. This part of his post rang true for me:

“Generally, one line of thought often turns into a blog post. With Twitter, that one line of thought becomes a small post that speaks for itself, and it feels like old content once I release it into the Twittersphere.”

So I commented:

“Yeah, I’ve definitely noticed this effect re: my personal blog Contentious.com. Hasn’t hurt the blogs I run for clients, but the cobbler’s children has no shoes. Honestly, I generally find Twitter more personally useful and satisfying than blogging. Can’t sum that one up in 140 characters, so I guess I’ll have to blog it. But at least now, while I’m wrangling with a heavy workload, Twitter gives me a way to vent some of my compulsion to converse and share with the people who seem to be the core audience of my blog anyway.”

…As I imbibe more green tea and think this through further, I remember that blogs have always been an awkward tool to satisfy my deepest desires for conversational media. Yeah, I love to write — but I tend to find quality conversation far morerewarding and satisfying than merely writing. Despite all Twitter’s limitations and weaknesses (which are many) I find it to be a superior conversational media tool. In many ways.

Of course, I’m sure that whatever conversational media tools crop up in the next few years will be even more versatile, robust, and usable. I’m looking forward to being part of that evolution. What about you?