Defining the Line between the Carrier and the Mobile Device Vendor

One of the toughest challenges I encountered in managing the Canadian operations of a PC hardware and, later, PC software vendor was to ensure that customer support flows seamlessly between the resellers and the vendor. It is the responsibility of the vendor to set up training and support programs that provide appropriate tools for the reseller but it is also the responsibility of the reseller to ensure that all its support employees get the proper training and support policies in place such that problems can be either resolved or elevated appropriately in a timely manner. Now I know the reseller support people take pride in their ability to solve a problem; however, when the going gets tough they need to understand when to elevate a problem beyond their experience and resources. And to a large degree it is the responsibility of the reseller’s management to define that line within their support policies and then to communicate it effectively to their support reps.

The same applies when it comes to mobile devices sold through the wireless carriers. Andy Abramson (VoIP Watch) seems to have encountered a situation where a T-Mobile carrier rep just did not know when to escalate and persisted in tying up Andy’s time when in fact the problem was beyond her/his skills and resources. So he spends almost three hours on a Saturday morning talking with a T-Mobile support rep trying to restore his Blackberry into service when after fifteen to twenty minutes it would have been obvious, in this case, to escalate the problem back to a RIM support person.

The smart person at RIM, Glenda on the Handheld Team, within 45 seconds diagnosed the problem. The RIM has run out of memory. That was one of the comments/questions I first made to one of the T-Mobile people with whom I spoke with over two hours ago. Of course, they didn’t know where to have me look. Time of call almost three hours. Time to cure problem, under a minute.

Seems like T-Mobile needs to review their support policies to address the customer issue rather than internal logistics. With over 200 carrier partners, we know RIM has the support programs in place; I can personally vouch for both Rogers and Bell Canada’s ability to provide Blackberry support. And this situation serves notice to Skype and its channel partners as they enter the hardware space this fall with all the new Skype-based devices coming out this fall. Om and Alec comment.

Oh, and it seems Andy was drinking Om’s kool-aid in deciding to get back onto his Blackberry.

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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