The irrepressible Spinvox blogger, James Whatley’s (that’s Whatleydude, to the universe) didn’t have a great Friday.
His, erm, 'robustly-used' phone stopped working and naturally, as a “Vodafone’s ‘best care’ program” member, he expected it to be replaced quickly and without any hassle.
Of course, if everything had been straightforward, it wouldn’t warrant some comment from me.  So, as you'll have guessed, it all went pear-shaped.

You can read James' entertaining tearjerker over on SMS Text News (probably the mobile world’s most widely-read, and massively influential blog…) but, for continuity's sake, here's the final gasp:

If I don’t have a new N95 by the end of the weekend, or at least, on its way to me by the end of the weekend – as I said at the beginning of this post – I’m going to 3.

And I’ll tell every soul that I ever sold onto Vodafone that they made a mistake and that Vodafone don’t care about their customers, nor do they care for their (outsourced) insurance – that’s not worth the paper it is written on.

Fantastic stuff! 

So, to cut a long story short, everthing worked out very well in the end, with James getting a brand-spanking new, 8GB N95 in his hand, as he put it:
"Just shy of 12hrs since the original article went live."

The ‘oil on the cogs’ was Vodafone's Amy Rose, who added this comment to the post:

Good afternoon.

Thought I’d drop a quick note in response to some of the comments on the blog, mainly to give a good representative of what I do.

I work for Vodafone and run an online team who are centred around forums, blogs and social media. As well as supporting our own customer forum - we also trawl the internet looking for Vodafone customers that have posted on an external sites looking for help.

I have a mixed team of people working for me all from Customer Management background.

I’d like to think that my team and I provide the same level of service for all customers we find, and that James’ experience is not a unique one. It’s a shame that people do have to revert to forums and blogs looking for help, and in the ideal world all queries would be resolved on 1st contact. In reality, we know that doesn’t always happen so my team has a 2nd chance of delivering a great experience and restoring some faith.

With blogs, we do rely of Google content searches picking up on the key word ‘Vodafone’ so that we’re alerted of the new blog that has been written. This is how we came across James’ blog so promptly.

I was pleased to be able to help James, and I’m hoping to see that my team continue with the same approach moving forward.

All the best

Posted by Amy Rose on March 17th, 2008 at 4:05 pm.

(From SMS Text News)

Now it's great that James got his well-used, Mk1 phone replaced with one of the newer versions. (It’s funny how losing access to our gizmos makes us addicts geeks so crabby?)
And the delivery was probably about as quick as it's gets, without booking it in first. (I guess no insurance would pay out on a claim that could be forecast and avoided!)
And it's true that nothing exceptional was done except speed up the process. 

But that’s the big news and the reason I’m tapping away:
Amy’s team actually want to sort out customers’ problems.

And that’s an open offer of assistance, y’know like real customer service?
Which is fucking brilliant! 
If it work’s, it'll be a great move by Vodafone.

I’d hazard a guess that dealing with the FIT team is a whole lot less stressful than the usual call centres, and probably a lot more efficient for VF too.  And the boost in customer morale will prove invaluable. 
If it works…

I’ll put aside my scepticism for now and give full credit to VF for opening this up — damn, that’s the second time I’ve praised VF this week!
An extended outreach for the net?  I hope it takes off!

Next time I meet up with a (justifiably) pissed-off VF customer, I'll see if I can put the two of them together. And report back on the experience.

Apple, RM Battle Shapes Up

Apple took 28 percent share of the fast growing U.S. converged device (smart phone) market in the fourth quarter of 2007, behind Research in Motion’s 41percent, but a long way ahead of third placed Palm at nine percent, say Canalys researchers.

Apple also finished ahead of all Windows Mobile device vendors combined, whose share was 21 percent in the quarter.

Globally, converged device shipments rose 60 percent to hit 115 million in 2007. U.S. sales doubled.

Nokia remained the global market leader, shipping 60.5 million smart phones, while RIM shipments grew 112 percent to 12.2 million.
Globally, Symbian operating system devices had 67 percent share, followed by Microsoft on 13 percent and RIM with 10 percent.

Apple claims that nearly 70 percent of all mobile Internet traffic is generated by iPhone users. Executives at Google, meanwhile, have confirmed the basis thesis: iPhone users surf the Web way beyond anything seen up to this point.

On the other hand, RIM points out that nearly two thirds of its 12 million BlackBerry subscribers in December 2007 were government or corporate customers.

The observation is that as the smart phone market continues to grow rapidly, the dynamics of the U.S. market--as distinct from the global markets--are shaping up, in part, as Apple going "up market" to enterprises and RIM going "down market" to consumers. That's not to dismiss Microsoft-powered or Nokia devices, but simply to illustrate a dynamic.

We have a market likely to take new shape as devices and users expand beyond the original base of "mobile email" addicts. The iPhone has shown there is a new class of user who uses mobile email but also surfs the Web and uses the mobile Internet in ways we haven't seen before. That's going to get designers moving in different directions as the various segments start to emerge. For some users the current iPhone or BlackBerry interfaces still will work. For others, something else might emerge.

Personally, I like the ability to swap SIMs between devices, which iPhone doesn't want me to do. I like to be able to change my own batteries, which iPhone doesn't want me to do. Small things, of course, but real barriers to me getting rid of my BlackBerry. Other choices will have to be made by music or video afficianados.

Source: Gary Kim, Editor in Chief of IP Business magazine

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