Either Nokiaâ€™s training is working, having an actual Nokia Lumia 900 in their hands has helped, or some stern emails have been sent out, but it seems AT&Tâ€™s sale staff are now quite happy to stand behind the Nokia Lumia 900 and to recommend it to walk-in customers.
Ars Technica did a small secret shopper survey of 3 stores in Albany, New York, and found results pretty encouraging in all cases.
In their first encounter they pretended to be buying an Android phone for their mother, and the rep responded:
"We have a wide variety of Androids to choose from if she wants to stick with that operating system," the rep said. "But we have a wide variety of other devices. We have some brand new Windows Phones that just came out."
He went on to explain "I went from an iPhone to using this, and I’m not really having any issues," and said all of the employees in the store now use Lumia 900s as their business phones provided by the company. He concluded his sales pitch by saying "but the best part about the Windows Phone is that it tries to give you less steps to do what you want to do." He pointed out the social network integration and the 4G LTE connectivity, and said the phone had a "really good camera."
In the next encounter the secret shopper pretended to be owning an iPhone 4 and looking to expand his search for his next handset.
In this case the rep explained "I have a few other devices right now. One of our big pushes is the Windows devices, a Windows platform that is similar to the iPhone’s ease of use. It’s a pretty powerful phone, 4G LTE phone, so it’s fast. Very popular device," and again described the people tile and its messaging capabilities, and again claimed that all of the store’s employees were now carrying the Lumia 900 as their business phone.
The rep also described Android’s "open-source app world" that allows anyone to upload an application. "Very powerful, sometimes complicated, and sometimes the apps aren’t the highest-quality, since everyone can make one." Of Windows Phone’s apps, he said "most of the big ones are available."
In the last store he pretended to be interested in the Lumia 900 from the start, and was told "Between this and the iPhone 4, the Lumia would be a better choice," with the rep pointing out the Lumia 900′s 8-megapixel camera compared to the iPhone 4′s 5-megapixel, though he said that "colors are truer" on the iPhone 4 while the Lumia 900 is more saturated.
Of note in one store the manager noted that he’d sold two to three Galaxy S II Skyrockets in the last week, two to three Nokia Lumia 900 handsets and 8-10 iPhones. So sales are not up to iPhone level (that would be pretty unexpected) but right up there with Samsungâ€™s LTE Galaxy S II handset on AT&T, which is far from a bad start.
We have certainly made our fair share of complains about AT&T retail staff. Now that things are turning around they may in fact become our best friends.
Read the much fuller transcript at Ars Technica here.