7 Customer Service Tactics to Copy From Apple
So I'm sitting on a hard wooden seat in my local Apple store waiting patiently. It had been a half-hour since I was politely shown to a waiting area while the large crowd buzzed around me. Twice an Apple rep came over to apologize for my wait. Her apology felt sincere, like she actually cared that I was waiting and inconvenienced. Another point scored for Apple — sincerity.
Which is when it hit me. In any other store, I'd be cursing under my breath, impatient as heck, demanding to be served.
So why was I being patient? What I came up with is this: I actually felt respected and cared for by this company. I had history with Apple (I got my first Mac in 1990). And across that history, and across all its touchpoints, I really couldn't remember having a negative experience. Now that's not to say that things didn't go wrong with their technology. I've had a laptop fail (replaced, no questions asked), got an iPhone replaced (it got wet, but again, no questions asked) and I won't even discuss my kids, who I think should work for Apple as product testers.
Over the years I've called Apple maybe 30 times. Never a bad experience there either. Just easygoing people happy to help me with my problems, who always took the time to get it right — even called me back if I got disconnected. A vastly different experience than I've had trying to call other tech companies. Some tech companies don't even publish their phone number at all (or they make you work to find it).
So what can marketers take away from Apple?
- Superior customer experiences make for superior customer advocates (or the opposite in this socially driven world).
- If you treat your customer with respect and care, they're more likely to accept that your products and services aren't always perfect.
- Even great customer service can't make up for a bad product. Make sure your products live up to your messaging and brand promise.
- Stand behind your products. Make sure your guarantee and warranties are clear and customer focused. Make it easy for customers to return, fix or exchange your products.
- Train all of your customer-facing employees to BE, not just ACT, caring. This is a challenge, but the rewards are enormous.
- Monitor and review all of your customer touchpoints frequently. If they're not up to the standard of superior customer experiences for all, then change them immediately. If you have a weak link, fix it.
- If an employee doesn't exemplify your "spirit," no matter how good they are technically, train them or replace them!
One of my favorite quotes comes from noted customer service expert Peter Drucker: "There is only one valid definition of business purpose — to create a customer. Companies are not in business to make things … but to make customers." To me, these are words to live by.
Jim Gilbert has had a storied career in direct and digital marketing resulting in a burning desire to tell stories that educate, inform, and inspire marketers to new heights of success.
After years of marketing consulting, Jim decided it was time to “put his money where his mouth was" and build his own e-commerce company, Premo Natural Products, with its flagship product, Premo Guard Bed Bug & Mite Sprays. Premo in its second year is poised to eclipse 100 percent growth.
Jim has been writing for Target Marketing Group since 2006, first on the pages of Catalog Success Magazine, then as the first blogger for its online division. Jim continues to write for Total Retail.
Along the way, Jim has led the Florida Direct Marketing Association as their Marketing Chair and then three-term President, been an Adjunct Professor of Direct and Digital marketing for Miami International University, and created a lecture series, “The 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing,” which he has presented across the country at conferences and universities.