One of the things that I think is really a great asset that Nokia has is it’s retail stores with technical support. I think that Nokia should start strengthening it’s store experience. If we look at Apple and we see that truely, one great reason for success, is that I can go into a store with my broken computer, and sign up for an appointment, and talk to an expert. Their strenght is in their employee’s ability to make exceptions to the rules. Many, many times I have had unusual circumstances such as that I was in China, and I had a foreign credit card that could not be accepted by their Chinese store to buy the upgrade I needed to make xcode work…blablabla…long story short, I told them my problem and they upgraded my computer for free, right there–on the spot, speaking with someone in English.
Now Nokia is the only other handset manufacturer that I know of that has a chain of retails stores across the world staffed with people who know how to make those phones work. Again, look at Apple: free in-store training. Demo’s. Nokia should be harnessing one of its greatest assets: it’s stores. Those stores must have a database of customers who at one time or another bought something, or had something fixed. Call them in, invite them for a free WP7 training. Make it useful, practical. Offer them a discount if they upgrade that day to a WP7 phone.
You want people to buy your new phones? You got to train them, show them, make them giddy with excitement–in the store environment to encourage them to buy. You want them to give up their old phones? Invite them for one day for the first 100 people to trade in their phone for half price–line them up at the door and then give them a free training. Make sure they walk out of there with their contacts installed, knowing how to upload photos, how to facebook, with great apps loaded on the phone, and pinned to their homescreens. Make sure they leave loving your service and talking about how great is this Lumia phone–and more importantly, ambassadors to show the phone and it’s functionalities to others. Word of mouth marketing.
Build a bar, not a teller experience–have a look again to Apple and their genius bar: long, open, and cool. When I go into my local Nokia store I see walled off cubicles and taking a number and waiting on hard metal chairs. It’s a banking type of experience when it could be a social situation. Those service zones should look like the booths you create at Nokia World, GSMA, MAE, or GMIC–long white counters, knowlegeable people around with personality, solving any problem I have when I walk up to their booth at a conference. I cant wait to get to MAE because I want to ask something about the Lumia phone I have and my N9. I want to go to the Nokia booth because there I will find people who know how to make it all work. Those booths are cool, now you need to bring that modern feeling into the store. When I’m there at the cubicle of the store, the staff are always very helpful, even if they cant speak English, they use the internet translation website to try to communicate with me..but the screen cant turn fully around because it’s blocked by the cubicle wall–and I feel like I’m at a teller.
Train, re-train, and sustain your staff. I can only speak for China, but in the Shwangjing store, they always solve my problem. There are knolegable people there but I dont feel they have the confidence to talk to me–where the staff at Apple are always there to help me but not crowd me out. Step up those managers to help their staff get excited in the face of adversary–go play frizbee together or football to build that excited team spirit. I have read the comments where it is said that the staff selling the WP7 are not excited–get them excited! Invite them to a training, get some Nokia Champions to demo their apps to them and customers. Show them what is so special, impress upon them that it is up to them to interface with the customer. If they are not excited, take note of their feedback and take it to Microsoft–get some Microsoft people in there to explain and answer their concerns.
Not many handset manufacturers have the luxury of stores and service zones in every country in the world. Now you need to modernize that experience and start welcoming in the customers you have to get them trained up and excited about your products: new or old. If your stores are empty, fill them up with events with Nokia Champions to invite their friends to demo their apps, to help drive downloads. Nock down those cubicles and create a more open experience!