A lesson in customer service from Apple


I still have an iPhone 3GS, or an “iPhone Classic” as I like to call it. Last Saturday evening the screen, which has had been cracked for so long that I can’t remember when it happened, smashed into hundreds of pieces.

The pieces remained together and amazingly the touchscreen still worked, but pieces were soon falling out and it was less than ideal. Usually I’d have called IT (it’s a work phone) and they’d have sorted out a replacement, but I had a work trip planned that week and was concerned that I might not have a phone whilst away.

So for the first time, I walked into an Apple store. I’m not a big Apple fan – the only Apple product I have is the work phone, and the kids each have an iPod Touch. No iPads, iMacs or Apple TV (why isn’t it called iTV?) So I’ve never needed to visit an Apple store before – except for the time we were in Paris, extremely cold and raining and took the kids into one just for some shelter.

Back to the story – I went to the Apple store in Brent Cross and it was busy. That’s an understatement – it was packed. I was directed to the “Genius Bar” and a friendly man said that he would need to book an appointment with someone who could fix the screen. I explained that I was going away, and he said he’d help me there and then.

During the next twenty minutes, he backed up my phone, replaced the device, upgraded the software and restored my phone. Through the entire process he apologised for delays, kept smiling, and chatted about why he worked for Apple, asked why I liked my phone, and was just generally helpful. A true ambassador for the company.

I mentioned a while ago that I’ve had a Dell laptop on order since early January. The current shipping date has moved further out, to mid-March.

To make matters worse, the specific laptop that I am waiting for is being advertised on the London Underground, websites, and newspapers. Yet you can’t have one for another six weeks.

I get the feeling that Apple would be embarrassed if a product took eight weeks to arrive. It would be unacceptable. When I have contacted Dell, there’s no sympathy or explanation for the delays (except ‘some parts are on order’) – it’s the opposite experience of Apple.

Photo courtesy of Jag on Flickr

6 thoughts on “A lesson in customer service from Apple

  1. WOW! That’s almost the exact opposite of my experience last spring. Arrived in the US for the first time on a work trip. Work iphone 3GS mysteriously dead. Personal phone deciding not to like US networks after all. Schedule, maps, meeting contact numbers all on work phone.Nearest apple shop, luckily a short walk from the hotel. Line out the door, entry refused(!) Security (yup) allow me to book a time slot for the genius bar later that morning. Upon return, helpful young lady tries a number of things to get phone to work, all unsuccessful and told the only option is to buy a ‘new’ 3GS, ($80) back it up to the server, and anything done in the meantime simply lost. In the UK I’d have handled this differently, but in the US, I needed that phone to be working that day.Needless to say, with service like that, when the time comes to replace my ‘personal’ phone, it won’t be the apple store I’m heading to.

  2. Hi Michael, I guess there is something to be said for the fact that you can walk into a shop abroad and have it fixed/ replaced there and then. I don’t think you’d have had the same opportunity from the other phone manufacturers.

  3. There is that, I suppose. Certainly it was a relief to have a working phone again..

  4. I’ve never had a bad experience in an Apple store which is amazing as they are always busy. I’ve had an iPhone and iPad replaced with no hassle and my MacBook fixed in a short time. They are a shining example of customer service. On a different matter I didn’t know Dell were still in business.

  5. Max: I am not particularly loyal to many electronics brands except for Panasonic – superb quality and price point, and I’m happy to buy from John Lewis. They provide great advice and the longest warranty (which translates to longest customer service). It demonstrates how the two of us are willing to spend some extra money on better customer service – but only when it’s done well.

  6. Hi there,
    I have to agree with your comment and experience. I went to Apple store just before opening and spent over 6 hours queueing after queueing. In the end the product I was after had some fault so I was sent away to wait. Their queuing system is very chaotic and not working. I found the same experience at Milton Keynes Apple Store. As for the people who think you should be greatful to have a working phone or able to get to an Apple store, they must have no knowledge of customer service. Just because we like Apple products we should not be put through such ordeals and should be given a better customer service after all that was initially a big factor in buying apple products at least in my case. I also like to add that I have had the same bad waiting experience at Milton Keynes Apple store. As a result to continue with my purchase I would be using another supplier. I confess I found some of the staff very nice – not that it would have made the problem to go away. So, Bradley Howard I totally agree with your comments.

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