UPDATE 2-9-10: Google has officially launched phone support for the Nexus One at 888-48-NEXUS (63987).
As the beginning of 2010 brought the revolutionary Nexus One, the barrage of reviews of the shiny new tech gadget dubbed the "superphone" has been substantial, to say the least. Question is, is it really revolutionary, or is Google's Nexus One just a new way of selling the same thing? And more importantly, is there the customer service infrastructure in place to support users of this nifty new tool?
The announcement that Google would be selling its new Nexus One phone based on the Android 2.1 operating system came out a few days ago, and the internet hummed with speculation. The list of features for the mobile device (dare we still call them "phones"?) is impressive, including the Android 2.1 operating system, Bluetooth, Google Voice built in.
In the midst of the barrage of pro and con lists, the "this is cool"'s and the "why didn't they"'s, a few have expressed doubts about the long-term user experience with the device. We all know that even the coolest gadgets break--they have bugs, the service goes out, or something in the account billings goes wonky. In general, Americans have come to expect poor customer service from their wireless carriers.
But this is different. Google is doing something revolutionary by selling the phone directly, online, at a price tag of $530. Question is: does cutting out the middle man make for a better customer experience?
I just received the Nexus One and am very excited about it. However, I will make mention that the online only process of buying this phone was the worst purchase experience of my life. ... Once again, the worst purchase experience of my life.
Google Inc has made it’s [sic] money through automation, not through providing hands-on customer service.
Dan Frommer notes in the Silicon Alley Insider that customer service will be an issue with the Nexus One. It'll be there... sort of. Just not what you've come to expect. Google has a customer support site, but no way to contact them directly, he points out. Users will have the option of calling HTC support for hardware and software support, but if it's a billing or coverage issue, they'll need to call T-Mobile support instead.
For users accustomed to a one-hit support line, having to try three contacts to resolve an issue may prove frustrating or unwieldy. On the other hand, even centralized contact centers will transfer a user to one department for a hardware issue, another for a software issue and another for billing questions, so perhaps a savvy user could save a few transfers by calling the right contact center off the bat.
Still, the above customer's words ring true: Google is a fabulous technology company, but it's not really known for its hands-on customer service. And with so many possibilities for glitches and bugs in cell phones and smart phones, even "superphones" like the Nexus One will most likely garner a host of user calls for support. Question is, will they come up dry?
[Cross-posted from Spoken Communications blog]