Samsung’s Broken Customer Service, and why Omnichannel is so Damn Hard to get Right

24/03/2015

Chad said I should share this one.

The Background Story

It started some time last year. I was about to travel and the US. My sister had her birthday coming and she asked my mother for a Galaxy Tab.

In Israel, these gadgets tend to cost 30-60% more for no good reason. So I offer myself as someone who’d bring her the Galaxy Tab at the right price from the US.

I fly. Enter a store. Buy a Galaxy Tab. Come back home. Give the tablet to the sis. Life is good.

She comes back the next day, saying the device doesn’t really work. The screen is flickering. A hardware problem by the looks of it. What the hell do I do now?

I took the device to a tablet support shop in Israel. They told me to take it to Suny Comm, the official Samsung importer in Israel. Idea being I tell them my sad story, I pay the difference between the cost of the Galaxy Tab in the US and in Israel, and they fix/replace it.

Off I go to the Suny Comm website (also known as samsungmobile.co.il). Find their support number (NOT an easy task). Dial. The support works 09:00-16:00. That’s at a time when Samsung sold the most smartphones in Israel. I call. Line is busy. I call again. Busy.

I decide to try calling at 09:00. I dial at 08:58. Get a recorded message telling me the opening hours.

Dial at 09:00. Busy.

I call every 5 minutes until it isn’t busy and someone actually answers (takes her sweet time doing so). Start telling my story. But then she explains she isn’t Suny Comm, but just a contact center that captures the name and number. Someone will be calling me back.

No one did.

I call again tomorrow. Busy. Try multiple times. Someone answers. She’s of course just captures phone numbers. I tell her they never get back. She doesn’t oblige. And no. No one calls back.

Frustrated, I decide to head to the Samsung US website. Try to file a support through their website. Fail miserably – they just don’t get back to me.

I put it aside. Luckily, I have this flight to the US. Going to Enterprise Connect in Orlando. I take the tablet with me. Once here, I search for a Samsung store – one I can go to with the tablet and complain. Unfortunately, there’s nothing of the sorts here.

So I head again to the Samsung website for support. Maybe coming from a US IP will make it better.

Turned out it is even worse.

If you do get to Samsung’s support site, this is what you’ll see (below the fold, at the end of the page):

Samsung support options

Great. Got Live Chat, Live Video Chat (!), Email, Remote Support AND a phone call. The Omnichannel experience!

not.

Off I go to try the Live Video Chat, me focusing on WebRTC has its obligations.

Turns out Live Video Chat is powered by Google Helpouts. With a month to go, Samsung is still using it. Turns out no one was available. That was at 14:00 or so.

Off I go for the Live Chat option. It gets me to a page showing me JavaScript errors and tells me cheerfully that the chat session ended.

Time to choose the Email us option. This opens up yet another window.

After filling in the personal information part, you need to start filling in the product information. Not an easy task:

Samsung support email

Notice how almost everything is mandatory?

So the Product group is of course “Wireless-Phone” and not “Computer & Related Products”.

The Product type is a “Galaxy Tab” (not always an available option on the Samsung website).

The Product subtype is “Galaxy Tab” (other options are the cellular carrier’s Galaxy Tabs).

The Model number? How should I know? They don’t have the option “4” in that list.

There’s a model number on a sticker on the back of my sister’s Galaxy Tab, but nothing on the website that fits. Closest one has 6 more characters to it, so I pick SM-T530NZWSXAR.

While I am at it, looking at the back of my tablet, I put the serial number – something that is hard to read off the sticker.

Filling out the form was tedious, so I give as much information as possible in the message itself and press the “Send” button.

In return, a stupid browser popup message (the one you expect to receive when you land on a spam website that tries to keep you there). The message indicates that my message was received. That’s it. No other feedback. Not on the page itself. Not in my inbox.

A day later, I get a long email. The email looks like the default response.

What should I be doing? Here are the suggestions:

  1. Charge the battery to check it isn’t that
  2. Uninstall recently installed apps (I kid you not)
  3. Hard reset the device to get it to factory settings

If nothing works – go for an RMA procedure to return the device…

I guess I’ll return it two months from now in my next flight – one I’ll be taking to San Francisco for Twilio’s Signal event.

In the meantime, I’d be refraining from buying Samsung gadgets. It just isn’t worth the trouble.

Why is this important?

  • Reflecting back on it, besides the stupid predicament of Samsung’s lacking support here in Israel, Samsung did nothing seriously wrong here
  • They supported a variant of what you may call Omnichannel, or trying to offer me a customer journey that would fit my need
  • The problem was that it was fragmented and split between different services that weren’t integrated at all
    • Text chat from one vendor
    • Live video chat from another vendor
    • Email through a complex website form
    • Access to training videos and knowledge base
  • They could have done a better job of integrating it into an experience that made sense for me as a customer
  • But they ended up with me not wanting to ever return
  • Omnichannel, customer journeys, context – they are hard to implement properly

Responses

Sam says:
January 14, 2017

My experience with Samsung.com:
My letter to Samsung:
I have two issues with this order:
1. I order the TV at 11/20/2016 with Carrier Name: AGS, Estimated Delivery: 2 – 3 business days, but did not received my TV yet. On 11/27/2016 I call to customer service and Samsung representative informed me that it my responsibility to contact AGS and schedule delivery (I do not understand why it my responsibility). I did call to provided telephone number and waiting 45 minutes before my call was answered. AGS representative informed me that my order in Toledo, OH, somebody will call for schedule and hand up telephone. I never see so pure customer service and anticipate explanation from Samsung, place where I purchased my TV.
I received my TV on 12/10/2016 after spending 3, 5 hours arguing with Samsung and AGS representatives.
Please explain to me this services and who is responsible for this.
2. Before I purchased my TV, I call to Samsung and ask if Samsung match competitor price, answer was yes. After I find better deal in Target I call twice and both time representative tell me that Samsung match competitor price. Second time, I specifically pointed, that lower price have been found at “Target” website and representative instruct me haw to submit papers.
3.
After I submitted all required documents I received e-mail:
“Hello,
We apologize for the misunderstanding, however in order to process your price match, the price to be honored needs to be from the Samsung website. If you have any further questions or concerns please feel to contact 1-800-SAMSUNG or visit our site http://www.samsung.com/us
Regards,
Samsung Team”

I respond to this e-mail, but never have answer.
I call to customer service and request explanation. Representative promised, but I never received.

Please respond to me with explanation why Samsung official representative miss-leaded a customer?

From Samsung:
Hello,

I understand you are shocked by the type of customer service you have received. I would like to apologize for the type of treatment you have received. We strive for excellent customer service and we treat our customers with respect. Concerning the price match, promotions and selections may differ from those at our authorized retailers. Prices and promotions (e.g., promotion codes or free shipping) offered online may not be used in stores, and store prices and promotions (e.g., coupons or additional discounts) may not be used online, unless otherwise stated. We do offer free shipping on our products. We do apologize for any inconveniences that may have impacted your experience with Samsung. We at Samsung appreciate your business, and we sincerely hope that this situation doesn’t deter you from continuing to purchase products of the Samsung brand. If you have any other questions or concerns, please email me back. Have a great day.

From Sam to Samsung:

Kerri,
I am sorry, but you did not answer my questions:
1. Haw Samsung will compensate my 3.5 hours which I spent arguing with Samsung and AGS representatives to find my TV? Why I waiting my TV more than 2 weeks after promised 3-4 days?
2. Why Samsung official representative miss-leaded a customer?

Reason for me to purchased TV prior black Friday, was information from Samsung representative.

From Samsung:
Hello,
We apologize for any inconveniences that may have impacted your experience with Samsung. Unfortunately, we cannot provide compensation for this matter. We at Samsung appreciate your business, and we sincerely hope that this situation doesn’t deter you from continuing to purchase products of the Samsung brand. If you have any other questions or concerns please email me back.
Have a great day!

Melissa|Samsung Ecommerce|855.726.8721|

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