Apple, the best customer experience?

Written by Luis Hergueta for Buljan & Partners Consulting

In my opinion, it is difficult to find a remarkable customer experience in product centric sectors. There are some automotive companies with a genuine interest in customers’ concerns, which want to take the basic standards and processes to the next level, and which really care about customers’ needs and concerns.

Is Apple the benchmark for all companies concerning Customer Experience or has it lost importance? Is it still the company conceived by Steve Jobs or has it become a company controlled by marketing?

There is no such thing as the perfect company

As I usually explain in my talks, I believe that the perfect company doesn’t exist. However, there are companies with a nearly perfect customer experience, or that rise again, as great champions (such as Rafa Nadal) do, if their customer experience leaves room for improvement. They overcome their issues to achieve a very high level, that is, they know how to face adversities.

My last experience with Apple was everything but coordinated among departments or omnichannel. They didn’t go the extra mile to surprise the customer.

  1. A poorly trained employee who didn’t know that you can issue invoices to individuals.
  2. The flagship store in Sol didn’t answer the phone nor multiple emails. I received their 1st answer after one week. After 7 emails, they didn’t give me a document indicating “invoice”. They insisted on giving me a ticket, which wasn’t what I was asking for.
  3. Departments that weren’t able to coordinate by phone with the store to issue my invoice correctly. “We are bound hand and foot”, they even told me via email. “The store is the store and the technical support service is the technical support service”, they said. What a great omnichannel coordination!
  4. Overcrowded stores with enormous queues, where they were unable to send a digital invoice by email. “I can’t. Do you want me to scan it with my personal phone?” they replied. “We comply with the law, which requires us to give you a paper invoice”, they added. That’s right, but that isn’t going the extra mile.
  5. When I wanted to file a claim, I was only given one legal form (there are usually 3 carbonless forms) without a self-learning internal format. “We learn from the official one”, they explained. “What if I want to send a claim to Apple?” I asked. They indicated me a post office box address in Cork, Ireland. Shocking.

Their products are exceptional, with a high-quality design, and an excellent hardware and software. Their Apple Care service is also undeniable (in Spain we don’t have their Plus product, which is the one that really pays off), as well as their technical department, which always tries to make sure that your product is in good condition, but is that enough?

It may have been an isolated experience. Unfortunately, it was shocking. From my point of view, not only were they mistaken, but they didn’t know how to react. The points were they failed were:

  • Omnichannel management.
  • Dealing with reasonable customer requests, they should avoid using the “one size fits all” approach.
  • Lack of training.
  • Insufficient resources (overcrowded store).

Is it enough to have one of the best products/technologies? Is it enough to have a spectacular store? Frankly, I don’t think so. People, processes, customer experience, attitude and leadership can change everything.

Luis Hergueta is consultant at Buljan & Partners Consulting and specialist in customer centric marketing. Luis is consultant for customer centric and customer experience projects accross several industries at Buljan since 2011.

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