Monday, July 30, 2012

Apple Should Run the World


After the last two frustrating weeks dealing with everybody from Rogers to Shaw, I have come to the conclusion that Apple should run the world. I know that they did not make as much money as everyone expected last quarter, but that's not what I am talking about, I am referring to their well-oiled customer service machine.

In the spirit of full disclosure, my wife has often said I was born in the wrong time period; I should have been born into the feudal system with plenty of serfs to handle all of life's inconveniences. Unfortunately, I am a mere mortal of non-royal lineage and I am stuck dealing with all of life's aggravations. In reality, things do not always work as advertised or – I know this is hard to believe - I do not know how to do everything; it is under these circumstances that I need to contact a Customer Service Department. These dealings – with people that are well paid to provide me with customer service – make my blood boil and me ache for the guillotine of centuries past.

Has customer service become an oxymoron?

The run of the mill service providers do horrendous jobs of making us feel good about paying and using their products. In fact, most of them send us off the deep end regularly. Switching products/providers doesn't seem to make a difference either; there just aren't enough companies who make customer service a priority. A friend of mine, who was a senior person at one of the Telcos, once told me that his particular company could care less about their customers, it was all about the cash, the monster needed to be fed, new business ruled.

In my short life, I have seen a few great examples of customer service companies, but none of them have shown the staying power or global reach of Apple. My Customer Service Hall of Fame includes Virgin, Body Shop, Disney, McDonalds and Ward Air. I would add, West Jet, but all that goofiness when you fly is just too much hokey pokey for me. I am sure you have your own list, but, is there any one of your service providers that you actually feel as good about as Apple?

Apple is in a class all by itself, not only from a product perspective but also from an overall experience - from purchase, to use, to upgrade! It begins with a wonderfully efficient on-line purchase (would you like that engraved for free?) or in one of those stores filled with hundreds of overly eager polite sales people (easy to identify in their matching shirts). What is better than the after market support when you have an issue with any of their products? How about all of those software updates to help make everything work better? Not to mention, Apple is constantly coming up with ways to make our lives more pleasurable and increase our ability to work more efficiently. I cannot wait for the iPhone 5!

I recently had a “One to One” tutorial with a “Genius” in an Apple store for Final Cut X - I'd like to be better at making home movies of my kids. It was one of the most enjoyable hours I have spent learning  - my speed, no attitude and teaching me what I needed to now. None of that "Oh, I am way too cool to be doing this attitude" that you usually get from some technophile or sports dude. It was just a great guy who totally understood what I was trying to accomplish. He was just like every other person I have met through my relationship with Apple - truly outstanding.

As if all of that great service is not enough, whenever you call in to Apple for help, they send you a survey asking for your opinion on how they did. It helps them track the good service and plan on how to exceed my expectations next time. That's a real acid test - to have the nerve to send out questionnaires on customer service and then publish the results. It really separates the men from the boys!

I was recently in China; they had a survey machine right in front of the Customs agent. It required your opinion after you passed through an agent – wow – Can you imagine how our Customs agents would score?? I related that story to a Customs agent back at home and he suggested that on a scale of one to ten, Canadian Customs would average a two. How long do you think a Chinese Customs agent with a score of two would be around??

Since, I should have been a lord of my own manor in another time, I have been on a personal campaign to improve the plight of others, if not by riches than at least by improved customer service. However, I am tired of writing letters to nowhere... It is not uncommon these days to be unable to reach a person within these large companies, for example neither Air Canada nor Rogers have a person you can complain to, it's an email address to nowhere. Reminds me of a bridge! And you can forget about receiving a response to your customer service complaint and there is definitely no survey to register your opinion!

So let's get back to Apple, how can we get them to take over every aspect of my life? Imagine just for a brief beautiful moment that Apple ran all government services and the entire education system. And, that each and every service provider that we pay our hard earned money had to follow the Apple customer service model. We might actually live longer, stress levels globally would drop dramatically, a population explosion might occur because people would have less headaches and more time for the pursuit of life's pleasures. The world would be free of stress and functioning efficiently at every step.

You see there is absolutely nothing that stops companies from adopting Apple’s service model except us. Here comes the rant, yes, us!! As long as we continue to support poor customer service organizations there is no need for them to change. In fact they are probably laughing, it's like sporting teams, unless fans stop showing up to the ballparks or arenas, the team owners let the teams languish in the standings. So why do we keep showing up to be treated poorly and with disrespect? Do we feel we are not worthy of great customer service? Have we thrown in the towel and said "Oh, what's the use, there’s nothing little old me can do"? In the end, maybe we just don't care about being treated well for our hard earned dollars.

Well I do and I challenge you too, like the guy said in the movie Network "I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore". Let's stop letting these companies treat us poorly, let's demand better service or switch providers, let's reward those that really do a great job with our loyalty. Even if we have to pay a little more, let’s stop sending our hard earned cash to those that continually abuse and take us for granted.

The world has evolved from fiefdoms to democracies, maybe there is hope for customer service. Long live Apple and may one day all companies and governments follow its model!!!!


  1. Jim
    Sorry i never made you rich.. could have would have.. here's my rant yes totally agree with you but Apple Stk will trade 400 while the SP goes to 15k.. here I just gave you the blueprint to some semblance of richness,, hah.. hope you are JA

  2. Totally agree - I want some Apple pants, Apple car, Apple everything!
    I love that they work at one product at a time to make it the best! Here's a look a the new iphone 5

  3. I could not agree more and I have to say Bell seems to be listening because the last few times I have called to rant they have actually calmed me enough to give me what I wanted and then send a survey to ask how my service was that day. Not to mention that when my service was not working in the US a few weeks again a tech sat on the phone with me for over an hour until they solved the problem. I am becoming a big fan of Bell. I never travel Air Canada if I can help it. British Airways always to Europe. They are a pleasure every time I fly. Apple is a joy to work with and I agree going into the apple store is always fun no matter how frustrated I am feeling about my computer.
    These days if I feel abused by any company I vote with my feet. I want excellence and I will pay for excellence. HP couriered a printer because mine stopped working out of the blue and the tech could not fix it over the phone. I had a new printer the next day. vacuum broke 5 years later. When I called customer service again they could not help me fix it over the phone but had a courier pick it up the next day and it was returned to me 4 days later. NO CHARGE. In the long run that is the cheapest vacuum I have ever bought.

    So I agree with you Jim. Vote with your feet and support those companies that are there when you need them. It is surprisingly easy. Roz