A mix of things: interviews, customer experience, and more.

First, I’d like to talk a little bit about a fellow customer service blogger, Tom Vander Well. Besides his very good post about whether it is better to be a generalist or specialist (Monday’s topic), Tom was featured in a local newspaper.

The article (which is quote good and informative) talks about Tom’s Geek Squad experience and how important it is for companies to monitor what people are saying about them on the Internet (I have talked about the subject a few times before).

Congratulations to Tom as well as the Geek Squad for handling the situation so well.

Tom’s story also serves as a good introduction for a Service Untitled related announcement. I interviewed Robert Stephens (the founder of the Geek Squad that the article talks about) a few weeks ago and will be publishing my interview with him over the next week or two. It is a fairly long interview, but is extremely interesting. Listening to Robert talk about how Best Buy’s problems are dealt with and what they are doing to improve is quite interesting and the interview has a lot of interesting facts and comments in it.

The second part of my post is about my experience so far with Verizon. I got my new phone (the Samsung i730) and like it a lot. However, if you are going to get a smartphone, I suggest allotting quite a bit of time to trying to get it setup and figuring it all out.

Verizon did an okay job. However, they did mess up. I took my phone out of the box and there was a little sticky note that said “You can upgrade your phone to Windows Mobile 5 by visiting url.com/whatever.” I tried to convince myself that it would be easy, but I seriously doubted that upgrading the operating system on a phone was any easier than upgrading it on a computer. I went to the web site, downloaded the application (and the manuals – plural), and started the upgrade. It took a good two hours from start to finish and I had some initial problems with the software. Definitely an annoying way to start my experience.

I have no idea about the logistics involved with running a cellphone company or distributing the phones, but I don’t think it is too hard to Verizon to pre-install Windows Mobile 5 on the phone instead of Windows Mobile 2003 SE. They already have the software, the rights to it, etc. They have to install an operating system on the phone anyways. How hard is it to install WM5 instead of WM2003? The brochure that came with the box advertised it as a device running WM5. I don’t think it is that hard, but I don’t know everything that is involved with it.

Regardless, if you have a product, it is stupid to ask the customer to make a major change (i. e. upgrading the operating system) right away, especially when it is all already available. I can understand Dell and HP giving customers who buy a computer now the option to upgrade to Vista later – Vista is not available to home consumers yet (as far as I know) and they can’t offer it. However, as soon as it will become available to consumers, the companies will start pre-installing it. This is a much better way to start off the customer experience.

Major upgrades, configurations, etc. to products right out of the box frustrate customers. It is really a negative way to start the customer service experience and does not leave a good first impression.

Does your company do it the right way or do you make people make major changes to their products right after they get them? I hope it is the former.

Have a great weekend!