HTC customer support via twitter

Is twitter emerging as a customer support channel?

I've recently started playing with an HTC HD2 (see my fellow ZDnet blogger, Matt Millers post Hands-on with the HTC HD2, most impressive Windows Mobile device to date for more info on the device), a device that is not yet supported in the US. As with any device that's new to me, I've had technical support questions:

  • Email messages that I deleted on the device didn't get deleted on the server. This happened with three different Email accounts on different servers.
  • If I ever turned off Wi-Fi and came back later to turn it back on, the selection was greyed out in the setup screen and I couldn't get WiFi to work again.

An interesting anomaly appeared during the resolution of these support issues.  If I went to the worldwide HTC site, selected contact customer service and then selected Email customer service, I received prompt (within a few hours), very helpful responses. If I used the same procedure using the HTC US site, I was told that the HD2 is not a supported device in the US and was basically told "Go away boy, you bother me."

When I tweeted about this on Twitter, HTC's group following Twitter contacted me almost immediately via a private message and asked if they could be of service. After a quick exchange of short messages, I was shown the answer I needed.

Suppliers have already done their best to make it difficult or costly for customers to call a hot line and actually speak with someone.  They've pushed people to either use Email and go through a slow motion support call one message at a time. The alternative they offer is to use an online chat systems that also is a very slow exchange with someone who often demonstrates that 1) they are heavily overloaded and trying to respond to a large number of customers simultaneously and 2) English is a second or perhaps a distant third language for him/her. This cost-cutting move clearly has had a negative impact on technology companies' reputations for customer service (see my previous posts on CA, Dell and HP service for example.)

In HTC's case, I found their worldwide support team to be extremely responsive and the US support team to be dogmatic and, thus, unresponsive.  HTC's Twitter team was a breath of fresh air and was responsive, helpful and friendly.

Is this a harbinger of the future of customer support?

Additional note

When I turn off Wi-Fi because I'm leaving an area that has WiFi and want to conserve power and then try to turn WiFi back on later, the WiFi connections bar is grayed out in the settings panel. A soft reset didn't help so, at the suggestion of the HTC worldwide folks, I tried a hard reset. This procedure, of course, erases all user data and applications and takes the device back to the factory software configuration.

After doing the hard reset, I had to rebuild the environment which included setting up Email, downloading my contacts and Email from the network servers and reloading three small applications.

Although I hoped that would resolve the issue, the WiFi control bar was still grayed out. So, I sent another Email to HTC.

Here's what I got back from Jennifer in their North American support line

I do understand how frustrating it is to not be able to use your wifi on your HTC HD2. Unfortunately, your phone was manufactured in India. I am enclosing a link to all of the updates on the HTC Website.

http://www.htc.com/in/supportdownloadlist.aspx?p_id=297&act=sd&cat=all

I do hope this helps you. Unfortunately, we here at HTC America are unable to support phones manufactured outside of the US

I was rather surprised by this answer. I was not aware of any devices that were actually manufactured in the US. That being said, it is clear that HTC is a "stove piped" organization and that could create problems for those traveling worldwide.

What do you think the next step should be?

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