Apple: Bad at Customer Service, Great AT Customer Service

The Apple Store, Fifth Avenue, New York City

You might think that after the issues I’ve had with Gizmodo I’d have stopped reading them. Not so; keeping up with the glut of media/blogging outlets has made me realize that Gizmodo does great work.

I point this out in a piece about Apple and Customer Service because it was Gizmodo that put this story on the way customer service gets done at The Apple Store in front of me.

Hot on the heels of news that the guy at Apple who created the Apple Store concept is leaving to become CEO of JC Penney, a story in The Wall Street Journal detailed the way that Apple does things at The Apple Store (Gizmodo pointed me there). And the story is simple:

Customer Service Matters

That mantra dictates the way we do business at Answer Guy Central, and customer service is one of the things we consult on here. We maintain The Answer Guy’s Customer Service Wall of Shame to keep the issue in play. As you know, I write about customer service pretty often.

Customer Service is the single best tool you have to retain clients. Truthfully, it might be the only one of any real consequence. And if you’re an Apple customer or know any, you know how loyal Apple’s customers are. Can you think of any other companies that make commodity products people will line up for?

Apple’s customers are loyal to them because of Apple’s unfailing emphasis on customer service. Even when Apple refused to help their customers with the Mac Defender malware outbreak, they did it in a way that somehow enraged only their non-customers. Apple customers went right on loving Apple.

Discount that incident, and no matter how much I dislike the way Apple does business, and it’s easy to see why Apple’s customers love them. At every step of every customer’s interaction with them, Apple makes their customers feel like they matter. And that’s the very definition of customer service.

And although Apple seems to be singularly focused on Customer Service, they never forget that they’re selling products and services. They’re just really good at making you feel as though they’re there to help.

Do sales really follow great customer service, naturally? Yes, they do. And if you set your customers’ expectations properly, those sales will repeat, and repeat, and repeat. Because in the end, just doing what you promise is what customer service is all about.

I still think Apple is Evil. And the iPad is Evil, in spades. But man, does Apple ever understand customer service. I think I’m gonna go hang out at The Apple Store.

Oh by the way: Gizmodo Cousin/Parent Gawker published this charming little piece later on the day we write this story. All I can say is … Wow!