Apple Customer Service

Scott Francis
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While Apple’s customer service could use a minor overhaul, the process ninja points out that it is still worlds better than the telcos customer service: A Tale of Two Processes – Apple vs. Optus:
So I have the choice – dig through 2 years of paperwork and slog back to Optus to deal with the surly girl at the phone shop with no usable iPhones, or I can go to the apple store and they will simply replace it. I choose Apple, and whilst I’m there I may play with all their working products, maybe buy some accessories; using up all that time I would have wasted digging through paperwork…
But wait, isn’t Apple’s customer service top notch?  It is pretty good, especially when compared with other choices in the computer ecosystem.  Surprisingly, however, it doesn’t live up to the customer service I get from luxury car dealers.  When you take Apple out of the context of the computer business and compare to other high-end brands, there are some obvious improvements they could make.  What would I do to improve Apple’s customer service (rather than just complain about it)?
  1. Loaner machines for people who have to ship their laptop for repair.  Car dealers do this “gratis” if you buy a luxury car.  Of course, the price of the loaner is baked into your $50 oil change.  Apple could do the same – or they could charge a flat rate ($100?) for a loaner.  $100 for 11 days of up-time isn’t too bad, considering the local Apple authorized repair shop charges $300+ for the same time-frame.  Alternately, offer it for free to people with Apple Care plans, and raise the average price of those plans a small amount to cover the difference.
  2. Consider separating education sessions and wait-times from repair/replace wait-times.
  3. Surprise and delight. Take a page from Zappos’ book – sometimes when someone comes into the Apple store out of warranty or without an Apple Care policy, go ahead and take care of them without charging, and tell them that that kind of service would be covered with the warranty if they want to have future repairs covered.  It is a great way to build brand loyalty.
  4. On-site service.  Take a look at Dell’s servicing model – they’ll come to your office to fix your laptop if you buy the premium service plan.  Apple should consider adding this option to their service offering.
I’m sure other people have ideas about how Apple could improve their customer service – let’s hear ’em.