John Paczkowski

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Decent Nexus One Customer Support Apparently Not on List of Things Google Makes Universally Accessible and Useful

customer-service.jpgWith Android and Nexus One, Google claims to have “improved” the rate and pace of innovation in mobile phones and the manner in which they are distributed. Sadly, the search giant doesn’t seem to have done much for the way in which they are supported.

Not a week after the device’s debut, Google’s support forums are rife with complaints from Nexus One owners who are clearly not getting the level of customer support they expect.

Like most other Google (GOOG) offerings, Nexus One support is self-help driven–FAQs, troubleshooting guides and email forms offered with this earnest caveat: “in most cases you won’t receive a personal response.”

That might fly with folks availing themselves of free Google services like search and email, but it doesn’t with those who’ve just spent between $179 and $529 on a new superphone. Buyers expect their devices to work properly out of the box, and if they don’t, they expect their complaints to be approached with at least a modicum of urgency, preferably by a human.

But that’s not the experience Google is currently offering Nexus One users. As PC World pointed out earlier today:

If you buy a Nexus One manufactured by HTC, directly from Google’s Web site, and use it with T-Mobile’s wireless network–who do you call when you have a problem? Google is only accepting support requests via e-mail, and users are getting bounced between T-Mobile and HTC as neither seems equipped to answer complaints, or willing to accept responsibility for supporting the Nexus One.

So while Google’s new Nexus One distribution paradigm might excel in versatility and simplicity, it fails when it comes to support. Which isn’t all that surprising, I suppose. Google was never really set up to provide customer service. That said, you’d think that a company that takes great pride in improving things and making them accessible and useful, would have made more of an effort to do the same for Nexus One customer service.

Did Google launch the Nexus One with a half-assed customer-service solution? I put a variation of this question to the company and here’s what I was told:

What, exactly, was your customer support solution at launch? I’d assumed that you would initially pay the carriers to handle support, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
We developed a dedicated, comprehensive Google customer support team for the Nexus One. Our support site can be found at google.com/phone/support, which has pointers to our help center, where there is lots of troubleshooting information. HTC provides telephone support for device troubleshooting and warranty, repairs, and returns. Google also offers self-help through our help center, user-to-user help through forums, and email support to customers who are unable to find answers to their questions online. We promise to answer email inquiries within 48 hours. T-Mobile USA fields calls regarding their service (including service billing inquiries).

Why was this solution chosen?
Solving customer support issues is extremely important to us, because we want people to have a positive Nexus One experience. Therefore, we felt this was the best approach to quickly resolve any customer support inquiries.

We felt this was the best approach to quickly resolve any customer support inquiries.

Really? Hard to believe that “we promise to answer email inquiries within 48 hours” is “the best approach.” Clearly, it’s not.

Google VP of Engineering Andy Rubin conceded as much during an onstage interview with Walt Mossberg last Friday at the Consumer Electronics Show: “We have to get better at customer service,” Rubin said. “We have to close that three-day gap [in response time] to a couple of hours.”

Video clip: Andy Rubin on Nexus One customer service issues.

That’s great to hear, but it doesn’t really explain why the gap exists in the first place or why Google felt comfortable launching with it.

So what’s the plan going forward? Says a Google spokesperson: “We are working quickly to solve any customer support issues as they come up, and we are trying to be as open and transparent as possible through our online customer help forums. We’ll continue to address all issues in as timely of a manner as possible, and we’re flexible and prepared to make changes to our processes and tools, as necessary, for an optimal customer support experience.”

Doesn’t sound like much of a plan to me. You?


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