I’ve tracked www.Kobobooks.com for several weeks now, keeping my eye on the following things:
- recommended reading lists
- search and sort capabilities
- customer service
- the writing life platform
- the app, the eReader, etc.
My intent has been to deduce whether Kobo seems to understand what it will take to become a serious player in the eBook retail universe currently dominated almost exclusively by Amazon and their Kindle store. My perspective is unabashedly that of an indie author. Today’s post will discuss Kobo’s customer service. (Follow the linked bullet points for the other posts.)
Results: Customer Service
I’ve by no means tested every aspect of Kobo’s interaction with users of its new Writing Life platform, but I’ve published a handful of titles, changed prices, sent some inquiries, suggestions and complaints.
Here’s what I’ve learned. They are optimistic, slow and impersonal, but trying to figure it out. Initially publishing my books (via .epub file upload) was completely easy and certainly comparable to Amazon’s process. My books began appearing in the Kobo store in less than 8 hours.
Then I decided to run a special and lower the prices on some of my titles. This didn’t go as smoothly. A few of the titles updated the price within the promised 72 hours. Two of them updated the price but lost their covers. I tried uploading the covers again after sending an email to the staff. I got a response from my email three days later, a couple hours after the covers reappeared “on their own.” (Because I reuploaded them).
Out of the two titles that never updated their prices, one of them finally changed after saving the new price again (and three days of waiting). The other title never corrected the price. After the month long promotional ended, it didn’t matter. So I dropped it.
I also queried in regards to Kobo’s “short reads” list. After four days I heard back from someone via a semi-form letter ignoring the main gist of my question. Rather than answering my question about how material is selected for the list, and if there was a process I could engage, the response said something to the effect of, “thanks for using writing life, and yes we have a “short reads” list.
After a second attempt, I got a response stating that everything for sale on the Kobo store is considered and that someone curates the list. Later on I commented that the Writing Life platform dashboard would be greatly improved by the ability to track free sales. Five days later I got a response saying the current version was a beta and they planned on making improvements. Again, a very general sort of thing. Why did it take 5 days to send out a form letter?
Kobo does haver some automated emails that have been helpful. After making my first $10 worth of sales they sent me an encouraging email with some suggestions on how to improve my Kobo presence.
Royalties are sent out after reaching the $100 marker, which sadly I haven’t hit yet. And I live in the States where such services usually work a bit smoother even for a Canadian based company. So that is where my experience with Kobo comes to an end.
Kitten or Lion? Over-worked kitten
I really like the Writing Life platform. While setting up my titles I didn’t need any customer service (which is always the best kind!) But Kobo doesn’t appear to have the personnel in place to fulfill all of their promises just yet. I did just get a notice from one of my readers a few days ago that they got an email suggesting one of my other works (due to her buying of another one of my stories). This is another good sign that Kobo is trying to boost their recommendation abilities. But so far, Amazon has set the gold standard for customer service. Of all my interactions with Amazon I had only one negative one with CreateSpace which just forced me to come up with a work around. (Systems always have their silly rigid spots.)
Partly my response may be tainted by the fact that for some reason I expected a smaller company like Kobo to be able to put a little more personal touch on their interactions. That hasn’t been the case, and may be unfair of me to expect.