Why Nokia may fail in North America

Fancy high-end phones will not hide the reality that Nokia’s customer service is substandard

Nokia Lumia 928 set to launch on May 16th will be dead in the water unless Nokia can fix service issues

Nokia is set to launch the Lumia 928 on May 16th with a lighter phone and better camera than the Lumia 920 but it’s a futile effort when the existing Lumia phones are trouble prone and service from Nokia slow to non-existent.

If Nokia had no competition, one could understand arrogance and bad service. Up against Apple and Android, it looks like Nokia has a death wish, or at least watched “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight” once too often.

When your business-use phone is dead and gone back to Nokia for service, its hard to remember the screen is cool and it takes good pictures.

Nokia leads the Windows Phone 8 market with 80% of the handsets sold. However, that only means they dominate  5% of the US smartphone market.

Unfortunately for Nokia and their shareholders, the company has not matched their phone service with customer expectations.  There is no buzz about the Lumia.

Despite having one of the hottest feature phones and a virtual home-run tie-in with Microsoft Office 365, Nokia is stuck at 5% market share compared with 39% for Apple and 52% for Android.

Enthusiasts gush over the Lumia but the real hope for success is the business market where customers want Office Outlook sync’d from their computers to their phones. This is the #1 reason businesses lapped up Blackberries in the past – email all the time, everywhere and anywhere.

Neither Apple or Android phones support Microsoft Office which dominates the business market with the Outlook email client. The success of the Lumia / Windows brand and the top-end 920 model should be a slam dunk. But it isn’t.

Nokia Lumia 920 bricked – locked with no where to go (dailymobile.net photo)

Nokia cannot get any positive buzz going with the Lumia brand when the phones fail customers regularly with reset problems, bricked phones, spontaneous shut down and many other problems.

With any given issue, there are dozens of other users who have posted the problem in Google as Lumia users search for solutions.

Resets can take as long as 1-2 days. Is the phone dying or dead? Who knows because you can’t get through to Nokia and the support site is not helpful. Tip: don’t use the software reset since it is likely to brick the phone. A two button or three button reset works the best.

When business users try to get Lumia phones back in service, the customer support level is abysmal for a business device.

ATT&T and Rogers retail support is limited to sending the non-functional phone back to Nokia, a 2-3 week wait. The replacement phones under warranty and extended service plans are usually Android devices which cannot replicate the Outlook email service. A business user is left without Outlook for that time. Gone are your email, contacts, calendar and tasks list. Obviously the dealer service is not matched to the business need.

I have spoken to Rogers about this and they are looking into Windows replacement phones. Apparently no one in marketing or the product team sees the Nokia Lumia as part of the business eco-system. They launched a business product with consumer level support infrastructure.

Searching for Nokia help takes the IMEI number

Forced to call Nokia when the dealer is stumped with a problem, the Nokia phone menu for customer service does not begin to help until you successfully enter the 15 numeric IMEI serial number. I don’t know how many customers keep that number in their wallets but they should since a malfunctioning phone is unlikely to give up the number.

I have entered the same IMEI number to have it work sometimes and other times it fails. Failure sends you back to the support web site and no telephone support.

Success entering the IMEI number gets you to a menu that suggests calling back during limited business hours from 10 AM EST to 5 PM EST.

This level of service is obstructionist. I don’t know about you, but I need the phone to work 24/7 and don’t have the time to pussy foot with a help desk on limited shifts.

Picture yourself in Chicago and the phone fails at 8PM. You call Nokia and get a message saying call back tomorrow between 10 am and 5 pm. What are the chances you are in a meeting, on a flight, or travelling in a taxi without a land line? You will need a land line to spend 30 minutes to 4 hours on the phone with Nokia support during those limited hours.

Buggy bios – reset reset reset

Frankly, I think the Nokia bios, operating system or whatever they call the hardware layer below Windows Phone 8 is buggy – three phones – three crashes. It’s a general FAIL in any product launch to get your customers to finish the product engineering in the field.

The joke about Windows used to be: got a problem, reboot. With Nokia it’s no joke that the standard solution is a hardware reset.

Since December 2012, my phone has failed 3 times and Nokia’s only solution is a 1-3 week replacement. I found similar stories on the internet here and here. That’s a FAIL.

If this was happening to Apple, the press would be all over it. Since Nokia is below the radar screen, they are getting away with service horror stories. The big problem is that they cannot advertise their way out of a service hole.

Today I re-start my Apple iPhone 4. The Lumia 920 as an expensive research project.

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