It’s been a fortnight of gadget acquisitions at the Sukumar household.
First, the son, just back from visiting cousins in Bangalore wanted a Wii (he had seen one at his cousins’ house). So, one was acquired for him, with an extra remote and nunchuk for the child in his father.
Then this writer’s BlackBerry collapsed after three years of yeoman service. The breakdown happened during a visit to the Kumaon hills so your favourite columnist (I’m not? Then why are you reading this?) was left literally high and dry.
So, soon after returning to Delhi, I acquired a BlackBerry Bold 2 (very nice, thank you).
The wife wanted a new phone too and since she has always been a Nokia person, she bought a Nokia E71.
Then there is the Kindle (alas, bought before the prices were dropped) which is in transit, and yes, an iPad is definitely on the horizon.
But this column is actually about the Wii and the Nokia.
You see, the wife, fairly tech literate and all that was unable to configure her mail on the Nokia. And after a particularly energetic game of tennis featuring father and son, one of the Wii remotes collapsed. It refused to sync with the mother unit. So the manual was read, the trouble-shooting tips sought, and when that didn’t work, local customer service turned to. It emerged that the local customer service centre was in Ajmer, which is where the company that imports Wiis is based. The wife and I were convinced we would have to write off the remote and buy a new one but we still made that call to Ajmer. Or actually, she did. A customer service person at the other end asked her to courier the remote to him (in Ajmer) and said that a repaired remote would be returned within a week.
On Day 3, the remote was back, and working. That same evening the customer service rep called to inform the wife that the remote we sent was unrepairable and that since we were “still within warranty period”, they had sent a new remote.
Now, juxtapose that experience with what the wife has been going through with her phone. Customer service didn’t respond for well nigh 10 days, then called to say they had found a way around the problem, and have, since then, missed two scheduled calls to explain the solution.
Events earlier this week almost prevented me from writing this column. On Wednesday, we reported that Nokia had lost around 11 percentage points in market share in the past year. And on Thursday, in an editorial, we commented on why we thought the company was not doing as well as it once had in India (although we did concede that the company was doing well—a 52% market share isn’t insignificant).
Given that background, this column may seem a bit like kicking someone who is already down (or, actually, repeatedly kicking someone who is already down), but is, to my mind, another point of data that possibly explains what is happening at Nokia.
Admittedly, Nokia sells several million phones as compared to the few thousand units that Nintendo does, but surely, customer service cannot be inversely proportional to volume of sales?
Or can it?
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