Mystery Caller: Samsung Galaxy S8

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It’s here, it’s finally here, the Samsung Galaxy S8 has landed and Mystery Shopper is excited. The S8 could be make or break for Samsung, the manufacture has been having a rocky time due to the Note 7 controversy. With a 5.8-inch ‘infinity display’ housed in a small body, Mystery Shopper wants to get his hands on it. Will he find a good deal?

5: EE

My mystery man from EE did tell me his name but unfortunately I didn’t catch it as he spoke too fast for my human ears. What I can tell you from the things I did pick up was that he sounded professional. Fast, but professional.
We kicked things off with a few pleasantries and a little chat about the weather. It got a bit awkward because I couldn’t really hear what he was saying. Assuming it was a fault on my end I cranked up the volume, to the annoyance of my colleague next to me. I had to ask my man from EE to repeat himself a lot which was getting on both our nerves, but to the salesperson’s credit, he remained patient throughout.
He offered the S8 for £59.99 per month, £9.99 upfront with 5GB of data, unlimited calls and text. A free wireless charger accompanied the EE package and a guarantee that I’d get the S8 on April 20, before other networks.
Things got pretty bad when I asked about specs and features. He took this as a rap battle challenge and proceeded to open the specs list, did some breathing exercises, composed himself and let loose with the list.
It was far from engaging and I found myself getting bored quite quickly and I didn’t even ask him to repeat himself each time I didn’t catch something.
Overall, it was a poor performance from the EE representative, which places the operator in the extremely unfamiliar place of last in this issue of Mystery Caller. My salesperson should have been more engaging by asking me more questions. What I took away from the conversation was some information on prices and what the weather might be like at the weekend.

Manner: 3/5

Understanding: 3/5

Knowledge: 2/5

Helpfulness: 3/5

Clarity: 1/5

Overall: 2/5

 

Joint 4: O2

I couldn’t really pick out anything special about O2’s Gavin – he definitely did not encourage a purchase. What had me tempted was the free gift O2 was offering and personally it was the best free
gift from all offerings this time round.
I expressed a desire for Samsung’s latest offering but this was not followed by a series of questions from Gavin. He spoke in a monotone voice – one that reminded me of church services in school – and I struggled to keep my attention at times but he did get better when we moved onto specs and features. Gavin obviously followed the S8 launch quite closely and was definitely a phone fan. He led with features that were more enticing, such as artificial intelligence, infinity display and iris scanner.
However, Gavin got carried away when talking about the camera stating it was a dual-camera system making it two times better than the S7’s camera. He must have got confused as that is entirely false. If we were talking about the Huawei P10 or LG G6 he would have been right.
So that free gift mentioned earlier, O2 were offering the S8 coupled with a JBL Flip 4 portable speaker worth £119.99 according to the salesperson. It is the best free add-on by any of the networks, if you don’t like it, simply sell it off for a tidy price.
The S8 was offered for £55 per month with 5GB of data, unlimited calls and text. Benefits of an O2 contract includes Wi-Fi and 4G calling which was launched in late March.
Gavin was a fine – if uninspiring – salesperson. Unfortunately he spoke monotonously which resulted in waning interest from my side. He was saved, however, by the decent offering with the free Bluetooth speaker.

Manner: 2/5

Understanding: 3/5

Knowledge: 3/5

Helpfulness: 3/5

Clarity: 3/5

Overall: 3/5

 

Joint 4: Three

Mystery Caller had a good chat with Kimberly who did her upmost despite being new to the role. She was chatty and was completely honest with what she did and didn’t know. However, her inexperience did limit her helpfulness. Still, an above average showing from Three, by newbie Kimberly.
The Three salesperson showed her inexperience by telling me about Three’s basic services. It was in a way cute, like a child showing you the ‘A’ they got for her homework. She was speaking at length about Three’s easy-to-manage app that I could download on my S8, where I can regulate my minutes, data, roaming etc.
Roaming came up she mentioned ‘Feel at Home’, Three’s roaming scheme that allows users to use their tariff abroad for up to two months. She sold it well, Three has obviously drilled its roaming scheme into its sales people.
I needed at least 5GB of data to last the month, but Kimberly offered me better. Three had a data boosting promotion going on, its 4GB deal was the same price as the 12GB bundle. So for £45 per month with a £99 up front charge, I would get 12GB of data, unlimited calls and texts.
For comparison she offered the S8 for £50 per month with a £99 up front charge, for the same tariff. Things started going downhill when specs and features were mentioned as she didn’t have great product knowledge, which she admitted.
Unfortunately, this meant she didn’t really sell me the device, she sold Three quite well, but didn’t have that much to say about the S8, apart from the basics such as the massive screen, camera and water-resistance.
A novice in her role, Kimberly clearly needs time to settle in and improve her product knowledge. But she did
well to keep the conversation going and not make things awkward. Kimberly has the makings of a good salesperson in future.

Manner: 3/5

Understanding: 3/5

Knowledge: 2/5

Helpfulness: 2/5

Clarity: 4/5

Overall: 3/5
2: Virgin

Nicky was extremely pleasant to speak to due to her sprightly tone of voice. She offered a decent deal with the S8 and explained product and network details quite well. The only thing I could fault her on was calling her habit of putting ‘Mr’ before my first name, and the late delivery date of April 22.
However, that’s nitpicking and English was obviously not her first language, which adds to how well she did in this issue of Mystery Caller. We started off with some pleasantries. Nicky was warm and wanted to start things off with some questions. I know this is Virgin protocol but it is the best practice to truly understand a customer’s needs. We had a good chat about phones in general and how she really wanted an S8 herself but was unfortunately tied to her Xperia X for a while.
I could feel her enthusiasm down the phone and she seemed genuinely passionate about the S8. It made me really want the S8 – she was really selling it to me. She was one of two sales people to mention the iris scanner, an incredibly unique feature copied from the ‘in flames’ Note7. Another feature that most failed to mention was Bixby, Samsung’s artificial intelligence equivalent and rival to Apple’s Siri.
Well, Nicky kind of mentioned it but she failed to remember Bixby’s name. After a little encouragement and feigned ignorance from yours truly, Nicky got there in the end and we had a nice laugh about her momentary lapse in brain function.
Virgin were offering the S8 for £48 per month with 5GB of data, 5,000 minutes and unlimited texts. A free 64GB microSD card is included but she couldn’t tell me the write speed of the card, which affects the copying of data onto the card.
Nicky had great knowledge when it came to Virgin’s network. She informed on how WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger will not contribute to my monthly data allowance. So I can send pictures and videos through other app with no fear. Another benefit of Virgin’s network is data rolling, where unused data is carried over to the next month. Virgin runs on EE’s network, and Nicky reassured me I’d get excellent signal in London, exactly what I’m used to with my current contract with EE.
Virgin has broken into the top two for the first time in a long while and it was well deserved. Nicky was professional, chirpy and overall a good salesperson. More like her please.

Manner: 4/5

Understanding: 3/5

Knowledge: 3/5

Helpfulness: 4/5

Clarity: 3/5

Overall: 3/5

 

1: Vodafone

Our overall winner was Paul and it was deserved. He showed a desire to help me out as best he could while showing his personality down the line. Paul was patient with me and my annoying basic questions about the S8, price and network value.
Paul kicked things off with pleasantries but it seemed he genuinely wanted to know me and so we got some personal talk going about (plans for the bank holiday weekend and somehow football). After a few anecdotes we got to business when I stated a desire to feel that dazzling infinity display under my greasy palms. Paul showed enthusiasm straight away, hard not to when discussing one of the year’s biggest phones.
He showed good knowledge with the S8, highlighting its best features like Nicky from Virgin. He mentioned the infinity display measuring at 5.8-inches for the standard version. He reassured it was fine for one handed use provided the user has large hands, and that Samsung made their flagship range taller, not wider. What Paul told me, that no one else did, was the ability to use the S8 like a computer, using Samsung DeX.
He sold the software feature well by referring to how I spend a lot of time on my phone watching films, socialising and reading. I’d have an easier time doing all this on the neglected TV in the sitting room according to the Vodafone representative.
Getting to the financials Paul seemed to go off topic by asking what I did for a living. The reason he asked was that Vodafone offer discounts for those working in partnering companies. Examples include the NHS and Goldman Sachs. Friends or family employed by eligible firms can also bag you this 15 per cent discount.
We worked out the discount wasn’t the best deal in the end. For 12GB a month, unlimited calls and text, the damage was £44.20 per month with discount.
Alternatively, Vodafone were offering 24GB a month, unlimited calls and texts for £47 per month with a £30 upfront cost. For a mere £2.80 extra I’d get 12GB more per month on my tariff. With the contract I’d also get Spotify or Sky Sports Mobile TV.
Paul won the day due to his personality and easy nature. He knew his product well and not once did I feel uncomfortable in the call. It was like talking to an old friend. Top Marks for Paul.

Manner: 4/5

Understanding: 3/5

Knowledge: 4/5

Helpfulness: 4/5

Clarity: 3/5

Overall: 4/5

 

Summary

The S8 is arguably the biggest smartphone launch of the year so surely it was an easy sell for our unknowing participants?

My mystery man from EE was incoherent due to the blistering pace he spoke at. He also bored me by reading out a specs list, not ideal at all.

O2 and Three are on equal footing this issue for different reasons. Gavin of O2 was simply decent, he didn’t really do anything that made me want the S8 which is a bit poor considering the S8 is such a big deal. O2 had the best free gift, offering a portable bluetooth speaker worth £119.99.

Kimberley from Three was inexperienced and didn’t know her product knowledge well. She had decent knowledge on network perks and admitted she still learning.

Nicky was enthusiastic and had good knowledge on the S8, I really enjoyed speaking to her and wouldn’t mind speaking to her again.

Vodafone at the familiar place of first due to the performance of Paul. He showed the most enthusiasm when speaking about the Galaxy S8 and went through pricing in detail to ensure I got a good deal out of it. A deserved win for Vodafone.

 

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