Apple Have The Best Customer Service

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase

At the risk of sounding like a fully paid up Apple mouthpiece you should know that this is being typed on a PC. The same PC is running iTunes as I write.

Nonetheless, it is Mrs S’s birthday later this week. I decided to bite the bullet and buy her an iMac. This is for her, really. Well, maybe a bit for Mini S and me.

Why bother to share? Because buying from Apple is such a great experience. They have really nailed it with the blend of human/computer interaction that I decided on. It was all at my pace, easy, unhurried, the salespeople used their names, answered emails, had an 0800 number to chat on personally, returned calls as promised etc etc. It was just such a pleasure.

There has obviously been a massive amount of thought put into the customer experience and it shows. Well done Apple. I am sure your creations are better in many ways. It is just enhanced immeasurably by the customer service.

Ahhh, That’s Why

I have just had to fire our estate agent of 5 months. The really sad thing is that they just don’t get it…at all. The 90’s are gone.

There was a time when an agent – didn’t matter who – was instructed. Shortly thereafter a buyer that was able to proceed walked in and would offer the asking price. They would then be followed by another offering yet more money etc etc. To be an estate agent was fairly easy money for relatively little work.

Estate Agents

For Sale

Those days have gone. The UK housing  market is at best uncertain. For any kind of salesperson that means they actually have to work at it. It transpires agent(s) we instructed  are still of the housing boom mindset. Wrong.

The feedback from viewings needed to be chased down every time, my name was constantly spelt incorrectly and then I was called Daniel during the ill-fated, late & bleating “why me” phone call after the firing had happened. Newsflash – we are paying for your services. You aren’t doing me a huge favour by allowing me to have my house on with you. Get over yourselves.

The attitude is so typical of old style British “customer service” it makes my blood boil. I’ll put away my soapbox now.

Estate Agents always look a bit puzzled when they are grouped with crawling things that live in the damp and dark spaces under rocks.

On a positive note have rec’d a recommendation from a friend of an estate agent that actually appreciates the concept of working for their client. Watch this space.

Both Sides Are The Customer

English: Scarecrow No.5, Bill and Ben the Flow...

Bill & Ben

Most interactions can be boiled down to what is happening between the two people involved. We’ll call the Bill & Ben for the purposes of this example.

Ben sold a faulty Thing to Bill. Bill is unhappy and calls Ben in the hope that Ben will fix the problem. So what’s going on at the basic level?

I’m no psychologist but I’ll bet that both Bill and Ben each have some sort of general aspiration to go to bed content every night. After all, no one likes tossing and turning whilst they replay the days events in their head. Do they?

So, whilst Bill rightly expects Ben to “do something” as Bill has handed over his hard earned for a faulty Thing, I think that Ben doesn’t want to be the cause of Bill’s upset. Ben also doesn’t want the chat with Bill to leave him (Ben – keep up!) feeling bad. So I believe that Bill will get more than the legal minimum out of Ben if he recognises this and tries not to leave Ben feeling bruised and battered. Ben has obligations under consumer law but any additional recompense is down to him. Bill enjoys legally mandated consumer rights thanks to the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (a). Great; we have the legal stuff taken care of.

What about the soft and fuzzy emotional stuff? Why doesn’t Bill just invoke the law, maybe even go in all lawyered up, and just stick it to Ben? I mean, Ben (probably knowingly as these filthy cheating capitalist  so and so’s are all the same don’tchyaknow?) is trying to give the minimum for the maximum, right?

Maybe Bill realises that he stands to gain more from Ben if he leaves Ben feeling ok from the chat? Maybe Ben is inclined to do more for Bill if Bill treats him decently?

So next time you need to complain remember, they are also a customer of yours.

Regards; The Sales Department…

A customer engages with you via email. You reply. The email obviously has an automatic signature. So what? For pity’s sake use a real name. Hank, Bill, Zachary, Claire, Emma, whatever. A pseudonym will do as I have no idea.

I just received an email signed “Regards, Sales Dept”. I wrote back – politely – suggesting that they use a name and the person at the other end, with no irony whatsoever , offered a reply to my original query and signed off “Regards, Sales Dept”. It’s enough to make you start looking for the hidden cameras. Or weep with despair.

The learning?

Email is accepted as a person to person medium so whatever the size of your business make your customer feel like they are dealing with a person. It shows a good deal of contempt for the customer not to bother to engage them on a personal level. What’s more, this is a no cost way of making your service personal. Who’d miss that one?

Messing About In Golfs

I dropped in to see Simon Ashley of Fatdaddy fame from side-a today as he is my old smoking buddy, before I quit. Still a good friend though – in case he reads this!

Simon was very diplomatic in telling me that the current theme was rubbish and then immediately set about educating me in taste – a thankless and unrewarding task for him. Given that I am not keen to chuck money at this enterprise quite yet I left agreeing to change the free theme on WordPress. Voila, I hope you like it Simon because I don’t intend changing it every few days.

As this is a blog about the many facets of the customer I felt I ought to pay an homage to Apple with the previous theme as they have excellent customer service. This is obviously the result of a customer focus ethos that goes to the heart of their business. I think they are just as obsessed with the end-user as Johnny Ives is with product design. Although I am an Android user with an iClone I appreciate the aesthetic beauty and simplicity of the Apple designs. They seem to set the way and everyone else is falling over themselves to be “like Apple”. Reminds me of the great VW Golf ad we have in the UK. It ends with of car salesman demonstrating his wares and ending by assuring the prospect that, “it’s just like a Golf“.

What About The Customer?

Unfortunately an all too common sentiment in the UK. Sure, companies all say the right thing but many still don’t do “proper” customer service.

To break this down into its constituent parts I think that some proper definitions need to be made about what constitutes “proper”, “customer” and “service”. That’s for just for starters.

The dog woke me at 0500 and it’s late now so I will pick up on these. In the meantime I’m going to be v. showbiz and leave you wanting more.