This week I spent a lot of time in my contact centre and shops listening to customers to understand their needs and desires and whether we are delivering on their expectations.
While I was visiting my city location I walked past the Nokia Customer Care centre and saw this sign:
“Dear Customer, the Nokia Customer Care Centre has Closed”.
This got me thinking, does Nokia actually care about their customers and if so, why did they close their Customer Care Centre?
What is the Strategy?
Back in 2008 Nokia decided to compete direct with Apple who had started to drop in big box style shops across the globe. This strategy enabled Nokia to have some protection against this new style of phone retailing as well as enabling the brand to have technical experts available to assist customers similar to the Apple Genius Bar concept.
According to the then Head of Customer Service for Nokia, Peter Thomas the concept was:
“My role is Head of Customer Care for Nokia Australia. Primary responsibility is the provision of post sales service and support for Nokia customers in Australia. This includes assisting consumers to get the most out of their Nokia device and also to provide accessible and hassle free repair services should a Nokia device encounter any problems. It is vitally important that I ensure the money invested by Nokia in Customer Care service delivery is well directed and provides maximum value in terms of the customer experience. Nokia recognises that happy customers are by and large loyal customers – a well directed Customer Care investment can be a very profitable investment medium to long term.”
Clearly as Nokia sales continue to decline this competitive strategy approach to fighting off the iPhone craze has failed and Nokia has started to close their Customer Care shops across the globe.
This is an interesting strategic change for a brand that won the National Customer Service award in 2008.
What can we learn?
Clearly Nokia has been dealt a couple of blows in recent years:
1. Their product has gone from #1 in the world to a has been as smart phones have taken over the world. This has lead their share price to reduce from $40 in 2007 to $3 in 2012.
2. The lack of R&D in new technology demonstrates that Nokia were not talking to their customers, finding out their needs and supply a product that they wanted and needed
3. The blue ocean that the smart phone companies have found (Apple, HTC, Samsung etc) has moved the competitive advantage from Nokia
4. Lack of focus on the customer and servant leadership has lead to this decline
Nokia are learning from their mistakes and in 2011 completed a joint venture with Microsoft to have their software on the new range of phones. The new Lumia 710 & 800 were launch in October 2011 and have been selling well. In fact just 7 hours ago WMPoweruser listed the Nokia Lumia 800 as the biggest selling smartphone in the UK top 10 as the iPhone 4S sales begin to fade.
So there is light at the end of the tunnel for Nokia and their shareholders, but what can we learn?
- Senior Managers need to be in touch with the customer base, listening to customer needs whether this is just walking the shops to see what people are buying, listening to conversations via the contact centre, web site or in store or conducting market research to understand the mood of the consumer
- Invest in R&D to build technology that people don’t even know that they want today. Try to find that blue ocean activity that gives your brand sustainable competitive advantage
- Empower your people to serve their customers and...never shut your Customer Care locations!
Michael Kromwyk (author) from Adelaide, South Australia on July 11, 2012:
Thanks Matt. A few years ago all I would have is a Nokia, but once I could access emails from a phone it was iPhone all the way for me as well. Cheers Michael
mattdigiulio from Los Angeles on July 01, 2012:
Hi charmike4 - I remember loving my old Nokia phones. They were reliable, held their battery charge, and were virtually indestructible. no, they were not as technologically advanced as the phones of today, but their quality was in a league of its own. I don't know what happened to them. They used to be the innovators in the phone world. Now Apple just dominates this market in many ways. I'm a big iPhone fan, and have no complaints about Apple's service.
Voting up. Matt
Michael Kromwyk (author) from Adelaide, South Australia on June 15, 2012:
Thanks beingwell. Likewise - when I just had a 'phone' it was a Nokia, now I hardly use the phone to call, but it is a very useful email tool! Nokia just can't compete today and as such are starting to reduce their customer service levels as they can't afford it. Seems like a downward spiral to me!
beingwell from Bangkok on June 15, 2012:
I used to love Nokia. They're units are affordable and very user-friendly. With the rise of smartphones though, Nokia seems to be lagging off.
I'm with Apple now. And I love their support.
Voted up and useful article.