Google, Nexus One and the customer service risk

Google, Nexus One and the customer service risk

Summary: Google made its splash with the Nexus One, but the entire effort could flop if the search giant doesn't nail the customer service. After all, an alleged superphone deserves super service.


Google made its splash with the Nexus One, but the entire effort could flop if the search giant doesn't nail the customer service. After all, an alleged superphone deserves super service.

In fact, customer service may be the biggest risk with the Nexus One launch. Now it may be liberating to buy an unlocked phone from Google---or a subsidized one from T-Mobile---but customer dissatisfaction can leave quite a scar on a product launch.

Since last week's launch, Nexus One users have been hit with a few issues. Let's take a peek:

3G access issues at T-Mobile. T-Mobile says in its forums that:

Google and T-Mobile are investigating this issue and hope to have more information for you soon. We understand your concern and appreciate your patience.

The complaints generally go like this:

Albuquerque, NM 87120 3-4 bars of 3G goes back and forth between 3-4 bars of Edge and sometimes to no bars WITHOUT moving Nexus. Compared friend's MyTouch 3g at same location and gets 3-4 bars of 3G all the time. I need solid info about cause of problem and status of potential fix so as to be able to make a judgment about return within 14 day period. If there is a doubt I will return it and expect a full refund.

The who ya gonna call problem? PC World noted last week that customers are confused about who to call with Nexus One problems. Do you call Google, HTC or T-Mobile? Well, that answer depends on the issue.

Then there are service eligibility issues. This forum has a bunch of items on that wonderful topic. And oh yeah, there are a bevy of questions about order tracking on the Google store.

Now maybe these customer service issues are to be expected. However, customer service is easier than it looks---just ask any retailer. Google could get a crash course with the Nexus One launch. Irate consumers want one-throat to choke and the customer service choreography has to be tight if Google wants U.S. consumers to consider an unlocked phone. At least with subsidies and two-year contracts there's one throat to choke.

Related: Google's Nexus One: Is it super? And is there a market for a superphone?

Topics: Enterprise Software, Google, Hardware, Mobility, Software

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  • When you buy an unlocked Nokia...

    ...what do you do about problems? I think its kinda interesting that the blog world claims Google is doing nothing new here but then raise service issue questions as if this is a new business model.
  • Google doesn't care...

    They are still tunnel visioned with their Adwords, Adsense, Cloud stuff. They could really care less about building a customer service experience like AppleCare. Google is not built for humans, but for computers.
  • RE: Google, Nexus One and the customer service risk

    Agreed. I wrote about this on Technorati. Google wants markets that function without call centers, a la Amazon. That's a risky assumption in a phone business. (That's why they call it a CALL center, silly). They want to forward all the calls to HTC, T-Mobile or Verizon CSRs.
  • one throat to choke would be good.. but most of your issues.. are questions

    The 3g is big.. everything else is basic. Generally, you buy a phone from a phone company and they answer the questions. Its not rocket science.

    HTC should answer the directly marketted ones, even if they are posing as google.
    • All depends on the profit splits.

      Typically, the supplier of re-branded hardware is responsible for service
      since they get a huge discount on the hardware.

      Who know how this is set up? Not many outside Google/HTC.

      It is in-excusable for Google to provide no production docs to T-Mobile
      for launch, not have any clue who is responsible for service and have no
      service available.

      Getting "Did you try to reboot" (a friend with 3G issues) on an email after
      three days of issues is really sad.
  • Geeks don't need customer service.

    They're the only ones who are buying the NO, aren't they?
    • ?? This isn't "wheel of fortune." nt

  • RE: Google, Nexus One and the customer service risk

    Very astute observation. If a cell phone isn't mission
    critical, then I don't know what is. I wonder how well
    Google and T-Mobile will be able to coordinate and
    handle the flood of issues that come their way. I
    guess we'll see but I would not be too optimistic
    because there is no single throat to choke and the
    tendency to pass the buck is too much of a risk, at
    least for this consumer. That's why I went for the
    Droid this weekend -- me and tens of others who were
    buying it at the Cambridgeside Galleria's VW store on
    Saturday. Verizon Wireless has excellent customer
    service and a wide coverage net than most. The lack of
    PC tethering on the Droid is a bit of a concern (I was
    a Blackberry users until Saturday) but that will be
    available in no time. I think Google and TMobile
    ought to set up a genius bar like Apple in order to
    provide proper customer service. If support for the
    NexusOne is bad out of the gate, the device will fail.
    The public has a long memory when it comes to bad
    customer service.
  • Google's Long Run Doom

    This isn't the best idea for Google but it is the beginning of it's evolution. Eventually we will see the search engine marketing giant grow into an expansive & successive failure. This is the unfortunate future, but it is a long way off.
  • RE: Google, Nexus One and the customer service risk

    check out this
  • Google, HTC support...what a joke!!

    It's been 5 business days since they said I should receive my prepaid Fedex Return Lable in 24-36 hours. When I call, they escalate the ticket and ultimately blame Fedex. When I tell them I am talking to HTC and not Fedex, they say all they can do is to escalate the ticket..well, that hasn't produce anything so far either...Google and HTC screw both of you.