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Apple Store Employees Create a Raving Fan

Posted on : 28-05-2010 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Customer Service

Tags: , , , ,

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It is not about being a Mac person or a Windows person. I know there are many personal preferences to that debate, but our decisions are based a lot on our history. This post is not about swaying you toward Apple or any other product. It is about services and what that does to long term value that it creates. My first Apple experience was with the Apple shore within the Comp USA store in 2002. I purchased my first iMac. This was not for regular use, but really a means to test websites using it. I did not start using it on a regular basis for a number of years after. After going through a number of Windows based machines, I did not want to purchase another computer, so I brought the Mac to the main place in our house where I use the computer. With this I began to get used to the Mac. The one thing I realized was it was still in perfect condition even as the years went on. Eventually I purchased a newer iMac and upgraded to a new one this year. Besides the iMacs (which are all still around, and working well), I purchased a Macbook for for when I am not at home. At work I also have an iMac and my work phone is an iPhone. All this is well and good, but it is not the software or hardware that develops a raving fan such as myself.

I have had a few incidents where I visited the Apple store. Each time I have found myself having a wow moment. This is the type of service most companies want to have, but very few are able to achieve it. Well Apple Store has in multiple locations (King of Prussia and Ardmore, PA). My first time was about a 1 1/2 years ago. My work iPhone was broken since the day it was delivered to me. The power button on the top of it did not work. The phone was not registered in my name, but the name of the company I worked for. They did not care about that at all. I showed no documentation. I told them what the problem was, he looked at it and immediately gave me a new phone and told me how to restore it. It was that easy. My next wow moment was when I decided to upgrade my iMac earlier this year. I went to the Apple store, not due to prior service, but I knew they would have the model in stock. It was a busy Saturday at the Apple store in King of Prussia. I loved the way they handled these sales, although at the time I was frustrated by the wait, since I knew what I wanted and just wanted to pick it up. When the sales person came over, he turned my frustration completely around, and he did not even know I was frustrated. He did it in a simplistic manner. He was having small talk as we were doing the order. This lead to me telling him how I preferred the larger keyboard. His reaction was to throw it in. I did not expect it, but I was very appreciative. He also included some other items, and even talked me out of a more expensive accessory I was thinking about. To top it all off he even realized I worked for Comcast and proactively added a discount available to our employees (I did not even know about that). All this was done in minutes. I did also find it cool that he did the entire transaction on his iPhone or iPod Touch. He even emailed the receipt instead of printing and I was ready to go.

Since that time I had a few more visits to the Apple store. The first was to check out the iPad when it was released (I already had the 3G version on order but that would not be in for a number of weeks. After checking it out, I could see the value it offered and could foresee fights in the house without multiple iPads. So about a week later I went to the Ardmore store to pick one up. While I was there had a great conversation with their business service coordinator. It was a personal connection that she was able to build as we discussed Apple in a work environment. She followed up with emails checking on the purchase and an invitation to a few events to learn more. After I received my 3G iPad I had a problem while I was flying to San Francisco. This made the iPad frozen on the boot up screen. When I arrived in San Fran, I tried to restore the device but I had no luck. I went to the Apple store. Unfortunately they did not have appointments, but I was able to wait for a Genius Bar member to have free time. It was a long wait, but much better than waiting 4 hours for the next available appointment. The technician tried some things, showed empathy and eventually restored the device. The wow moment was not at that time, but instead later on. While I was waiting I shopped for a few accessories since I switched bags prior to the flight and left a few things home. I went up to pay and the cashier was very pleasant. As he finished the payment and I was pulling out my credit card, he noticed my Comcast business card. He immediately stopped and said we can save you money, you get a discount. A fact I learned when I bought my iMac, but in my rush failed to mention. His proactive offering was very much appreciated it.

This brings me to what happened today. Earlier this week I was traveling and at one point I looked at my iPad and it was dented in near the power button (even though it was in a Sena iPad Folio). I was not even sure how it happened, but it obviously bumped into something, and my guess is, that it did so fairly hard. It was very odd looking, with 2 small indentations that went further in. I was upset, but what caused a problem was the power button did not work (not a big deal since it was on at the time). So I set up an appointment at the Apple Genius Bar to find out what the cost of fixing it would be. I showed the gentleman the damage. He took it into the back to see what he could do. He came back and told me the cost would normally be about $400, but since I have been a valued Customer (he tied in prior purchases), and said he would give me a new one for free. I was completely wow’ed by this offer. I did not expect and I knew it was not covered under warranty. I expected to have to pay for cosmetic damage. Instead I paid for a protective edge that I placed on the iPad and squeezed back in the folio (I am not sure I will get it back out, so if there are any designers out there, I love the Sena case, but would recommend making it a little bigger and include a protective piece for the edge).

Anyway, the moral to all of this is great products are just part of the picture. What really drives dedication is the employees within your company. Empowering them in ways like this will really lead to dedicated Customers. I know I will be an Apple Customer for a long time because these employees turned me into a raving fan.

Comments (8)

That is that a real store question (twitter’d) is answered by the alt text. The apple store near me is a small beach house when compared to above photo. The one thing in common is how the store employee interact with customers.

Back when iBook G4 was the new guy there was a display problem, white line across the screen. The rep on the phone said it may be a warranty issue. That worried me because it was obviously a covered defect. The rep said I could take the machine to the nearest store.

When I got to store it was busy, my ‘hurry up and wait’ flag went crazy. The actual time I don’t recall but it was not that bad. The reason I do not recall the time may be due to the staff. Now that I think about it they didn’t wait for me to think too much about my problem while waiting. The cash register was rotated so there was always someone I could ask a question, gossip to or get help comparing software for best deal. I managed to ring up a fair sized software bill, tinker with other models and chillout.

The tech spent seconds with the iBook. Told me it was going back and he was sorry they are out of that model. ( bummer) If there was stock I would have left with a new one. The trip home was ok too. Wife was surprised that I was not spewing four letter words around, she even asked what was wrong – I said, “Nothing. In manufacturing things happen and the machine will be back in a few days. FedEx delivery.

It is all about defusing the bomb before it explodes not afterwards. Have not thought about that Apple Store much since that night. Maybe there is no negative reenforcement to turn on the rant machine. I thought hard for a negative experience and failed; cannot find something that does not exist.

I’ve had similar experiences with Apple’s phone support customer service. We recently misplaced the OS discs for an old iMac. Since I’m a valued customer they Fed-Exed the discs to us at no charge. When the discs did not arrive in a timely fashion, they sent a second set–overnight again–and asked only that any duplicates be returned. When the duplicate set arrived a few weeks later I was happy to return them to Apple.
Over the years I’ve had similar, no-charge experiences with Apple customer service. You’re right: defuse the bomb. The value added by shipping me older OSX discs far outweighs the cost to Apple.

That picture looks suspiciously like the Apple Store in Ardmore. :-)

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