Google Nexus One – Pitfalls of Partnership

The recent launch of Google’s Nexus One Android phone has been an interesting one to follow. Although it is still early in the game, the launch appears to be more fizzle than sizzle.

From a customer service perspective, it seems that the three players (Google, HTC, T-Mobile) either under-estimated or ignored the customer service challenges posed by a multi-vendor partnership. 

Forums are buzzing, critical articles are being posted, and Google’s customer service is anything BUT hassle-free. I agree with David Coursey’s blog post that customers wait until the customer service issues get ironed out before they purchase the phone.

It makes me wonder if Google, HTC, or T-Mobile asked themselves some basic questions like:

  • When a customer has a problem, how will they know who to contact?
  • What is an acceptable response time?
  • Who is responsible for what?

In a perfect world, the customer will know exactly what their problem is and contact the appropriate partner for support. But life (and technology) is rarely that simple.

Why wouldn’t customers contact Google for support? The Nexus One is branded as a Google phone and is available only through Google’s online store. Customers seeking support for the Nexus One should not be ping-ponged between Google, HTC, T-Mobile.

In a world where businesses commonly partner to deliver products and services, ensuring a seamless customer service experience is crucial. Businesses must realize that customers will call the first support department that they can find. And the last thing you want is for that company’s support reps to respond with “It’s not our problem, call Partner X”

Want to avoid the service pitfalls similar to those that have overwhelmed the Nexus One? Try the following to increase your chances of service success:

  • Define Partner Service Level Agreements which include:
    • Scope of responsibility for each partner, support response times, customer service operating hours, customer  support contact channels, quality of service measurements
  • Route customers correctly
    • Implement a single entry point for all customer contacts (if possible)
    • Make it easy for customers to contact the proper partner for support. Ensure there is clear and visible messaging at all points of customer contact (web sites, product documentation, IVR, etc)
    • Track the volume of misdirected support inquiries and take the appropriate corrective action to promptly reduce this volume.
  • Train all Customer Service departments on the partnership’s service details
    • Document procedures for the seamless transfer of customers to the appropriate service partner
  • Estimate initial volume of support requests and staff accordingly
    • Estimate should include allowances for misdirected support inquiries
  • Gauge customer satisfaction with the overall partnership by monitoring external sources
    • E.g.: online forums, Twitter, blog posts, web sites

Finally, my simplest advice for success – have all partners adopt the motto made famous by the Three Musketeers, “One for all and All for one!”

Have you ever been caught in a customer service maze? How did you get around the hurdles to get the support you needed?

Let me know, I’d love to hear how you solved this type of problem!

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2 Responses to “Google Nexus One – Pitfalls of Partnership”

  1. Rick Spies Says:

    Anne, here is a posting at “The Consumerist” (now owned by Consumers Union) which makes your points highly relevant:

    http://consumerist.com/2010/01/apparently-replacing-a-dead-nexus-one-is-too-hard-htc.html

    • servicerox Says:

      Hi Rick –

      Thanks for the link to the Consumerist post. Maybe the reason Prashant hasn’t gotten a replacement yet is because the Nexus One “team” doesn’t have a Return Process in place. Or they don’t care, or they are incompetent. Doesn’t matter though, customer loses any way you slice it.

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