Kobo has never had a stellar customer service record when it comes to support for their digital bookstore or their line of tablets and e-readers. This is starting to change as the Canadian based company is putting a heavy priority on developing new technologies and changing the way they go about solving customer issues.
International expansion has been the primary focus at Kobo for the last few years. Their template is making agreements with the largest bookstores in the country to get the hardware in the hands of serious readers and strike publishing deals. Kobo customers statistically buy four books a month from the online bookstore.
The Kobo expansion into international markets has subsided and they have recognized that customer service often played second fiddle. Marc Hollenberg is the current VP of Customer Care at Kobo and has been on the job for six months. His focus is aligning the various hardware, software and book departments into a unified customer service department. “It’s much more cost effective to keep customers than it is to acquire new ones.”
One of the new initiatives Kobo has developed is a platform called Virtual Que. This allows people to fill out an online form, such as what device they have, where they purchased it from, nature of the problem and their Kobo account. They can talk to a live agent or instead of waiting on hold, get a call back. This saves time, because the agents have all of the customer data and don’t have to spend the first few minutes of the call confirming a million details.
Technical problems with tablets or e-readers used to raise customers dander. Often, the first point of contact was the Tier 1 representative, who was able to solve most common problems. If the situation was not something that could be fixed, Tier 2 agents would call the customer back. We have heard many stories about calls never coming or customers being given the runaround, when it came to returns or warranties. Marc is trying to change this by “eliminating the tier agent system; all agents are now equipped with the same tools, which has significantly reduced the need for another agent to intervene.”
Marc mentioned that “Kobo has included customer experience as a key strategic pillar, and all departments are aligned with this priority.”
I think Kobo is in the position where they have expanded into almost every major market with a localized bookstore and the ones they haven’t can still easily buy books. With more than four million titles in their library and millions of users all over the world, retaining those customers is a huge priority. This has been challenging for the Customer Care department because they have to deal with a myriad of new and existing languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, German, Japanese and a ton of others.
During the year you can expect the customer service program to get more refined. If you have had an issue in the last year, drop a comment below! Kobo will be dropping by to address specific customer issues and listen to feature requests.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.