What do you do when you unveil a new smartphone or app that’s not quite ready to be released, even though you had a firm release date that 100% must meet? This challenging business situation is one Samsung recently found itself in when it botched the launch of its shiny new Samsung Galaxy Fold.
The company designed the Galaxy Fold (a smartphone that uses multiple new technologies and materials to create a display that is flexible enough to fold) and was excitement around it was building up prior to its release. The announcement of its release drew praise from Samsung users and lovers of technologies alike. Due to launch in April 2019, the device was viewed to be one of its potentially greatest products yet.
But a harsh reality set in, and early: Customer feedback delayed the launch and people begun to doubt the product.
Samsung heard the feedback early on, and made some tough decisions. “While many reviewers shared with us the vast potential they see, some also showed us how the device needs further improvements that could ensure the best possible user experience,” the company said in a release. “To fully evaluate this feedback and run further internal tests, we have decided to delay the release of the Galaxy Fold. We plan to announce the release date in the coming weeks.”
Samsung heard customers and turned the magnifying glass on the product. Upon further review, it found that the display showed that substances in the display inside the device affected its performance. The brand promised to take measures to strengthen the display protection and enhance their customer service platform to inform users how to care for and use the display so that their loyal customers could get the most of out of the device.
“We value the trust our customers place in us and they are always our top priority. Samsung is committed to working closely with customers and partners to move the industry forward. We want to thank them for their patience and understanding,” they said.
It’s a very good thing that the Fold stayed in the fold: If Samsung hadn’t heard the early feedback, just imagine the customer service nightmare it would have faced post-launch. This is the potential danger that comes with releasing a product too early. It’s also a part of the danger that comes with allowing for customer input on a device that is incomplete.
So: How do companies come back from such a thing and maintain a consumer’s confidence in the product?
- According to Techcrunch, Samsung has brought out all the customer service tricks in their arsenal in order to keep interest in their products high. In the beginning of September, Samsung says they addressed the issues with their screen and announced a new release date for the Fold. Although they cancelled the first-round of pre-orders in the U.S., the company announced a $250 in-house credit to keep customers satisfied and in their good graces. (The phone itself costs $2,000.)
- They’ve announced the launch of the product in the U.S on September 27 and have also pledged to send a customer service agent right to customers in order to explain how to use the device. The company is contributing millions of dollars to make the release go smoothly.
- They’ve launched what is known as the Galaxy Fold Premier Service — a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week customer support service for Galaxy Fold owners in the U.S. Acknowledging that customers will need additional support to work the device, Samsung has created a personal and virtual service to navigate customers through complex features such as multitasking using three on-screen windows and help troubleshoot other issues that may arise. While the service is mostly available in the U.S., Samsung is working to expand the service to the U.K.
You can use either a dedicated number, the Samsung Member App and call the company to schedule and in-person meeting where Samsung sends someone directly to you. But: The caveat is how it affects other telecommunications companies that sell it. Best Buy and AT&T, for instance, will undoubtedly have to deal with customer service calls about the product, especially if customers have a hard time using it after purchasing it directly from those stores. Customers expect company representatives to be experts; that’s part of the customer service experience. Now, other companies will have to familiar themselves as much as customers to be able to coach customers on the use of the device.
After launching in South Korea during the first week of September and in Europe on September 18th, the U.S launch is next. They also plan to launch in India on October 1st. Ultimately, there will be glitches. There will be delays. And there will be flat out confusion. Hopefully this time, though, Samsung’s customer service strategy leads it to achieve brand success. But if not, the impact to the company’s reputation could be significant.
Hopefully they’ve truly fixed all the errors and the customer service platform is sufficient enough to handle customer complaints and concerns. Their reputation could truly suffer if their customers’ needs and expecatations aren’t met, for the second time in a row.
Time will tell.