Google’s Nexus One, like other smartphones, requires exceptional customer support to ensure its success
Since its release, Google, like Apple when it released the iPhone, has drawn fire from customers seeking tech support for the device.
In the early days of the phone’s release, Google customers with support issues, had a challenging time obtaining technical support from Google. Meanwhile, T-Mobile and HTC were trying to calm the surge of complaints about 3G, signal strength and other tech issues.
In my HTC Hero Android post, I wrote about T-Mobile’s 3G network not withstanding the onslaught of the latest mobile computer. Yet I didn’t expect that the network would fail so quickly. Nexus owners are not only losing broadband faster than water draining a sink, signal strength, a known problem with T-Mobile, is falling like a rock.
Google’s release of the phone to AT&T and soon to Sprint as well will improve Nexus One customer support response. However, Google will remain a key resource for tech issues since the device operates on its Android OS.
Google and Customer Support
Google is not known for excellent customer response. As a search engine and online advertising company, customers with issues usually try finding solutions on Google’s website first. Email response is unacceptably poor for a service company serving consumers and businesses.
But now Google has released a mobile computing device that requires extensive technical support. In a 2009 post about Apple, I wrote about the necessity for phone manufacturers and carriers to offer essential customer support to succeed in a very competitive industry. But Google launched the Nexus One without anticipating customer support necessary for its smartphone device.
As a result, even HTC that manufactured the phone for Google was unable and, some say, unwilling to step in. HTC’s response wasn’t unexpected. Like RIM, first-line Blackberry support is provided by the carriers. RIM only gets involved when a problem is directly related to RIM’s email servers.
In December, 2009, I responded to Troy Wolverton’s San Jose Mercury News article about the Google Nexus One release:
“In all the articles and comments I’ve read about Google’s proposed release, no one is writing about technical support of a multi-tasking, complex smart phone. Despite the generally negative attitudes by consumers of the wireless carriers, they–not the manufacturers–are responsible for customer support. Like your desktop computer, cable, satellite or Internet service, the bottom line is telephone, email or chat service when something goes wrong.
As mobile computing devices become more complex, carriers are increasing the knowledge level of the first and second line tech support reps. Without the reps and a tech support department that’s fully equipped to handle device and network problems, customers are dead in the water, whether they own an iPhone, BlackBerry or Google Android phone.
Good technical support costs money, which is probably why T-Mobile and Google decided to offer the device through T-Mobile, I assume, at a subsidized price. The alternative of buying the phone through Google online and activating it through a GSM carrier without a service contract is crazy. When consumers complain about the iPhone or other smart phone’s cost of ownership, they should realize that their monthly service charges (voice and data) also include customer support.
Troy refers to the Wall Street Journal article which I also read. I’m not clear whether Google has already established service agreements with carriers. Google in its press release also referred to using the device “on all carriers.” To my knowledge, however, the HTC Android phone they’re releasing is the GSM–not CDMA–version of the phone, which means (yikes) AT&T and T-Mobile are the only national carriers.
Regarding customer expectations of the phone, wireless customers who are now upgrading their feature phones to smart phones are expecting superior performance, mobile Internet access and applications–something they’ve never had. The iPhone set the bar. Now a massive influx of smart phones are scheduled for release in 2010 and customer expectations are high. Let’s hope the manufacturers and carriers can meet the new wave of mobile consumers.”