Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Apple on the defense

After their iPhone discount PR meltdown, increasing virus problems and more and more users calling their Mac a lemon, here comes the tragic customer experience from an Apple Store:

"He (Ed.: the sales clerk) said he was working at the store while going to grad school. And, yes, he hated the job, it was a bore -- he hated the attitude, like selling Apple stuff was an honor; but really it was no different than selling shoes, except selling shoes paid more. He knew he was taking out his frustration on customers; he felt bad about it, but he assumed he would be fired weeks ago and that would be it. What does it take to be fired, he asked. Apple's supposed to be about customer service, yet they seemed to like he was acting like an a-hole, he said. That pissed him off even more. The hypocrisy. They wanted him to act cool, kind of above it all, it was part of the image. But not crossing the line (wherever it was that week), to the point of terrorizing the customers."

If you have a moment, read the whole story, it's pretty hilarious. And sad at the same time.

I don't frequent Apples Stores very often but there's a flair of arrogance and "We're better than the rest of you" in the air. This attitude was apparent during the iPhone discount meltdown, basically telling early adopters (Yes, me!) that they are suckers.

Apple used to be the underdog, fighting the good fight. Now, they're the big dog again since nobody regards Microsoft as an evil force anymore (Google is slowly getting comfortable in that role.). Customer service has always been Apple's weakest link (Don't remind me of all the blown iPod batteries and annoying calls to Customer Service). Not a big deal when your competitors are messing up but fatal when competitors are waking up. (Even though they still don't get it completely.)
Hopefully, Apple doesn't have to learn the hard way that a strong brand and exceptional advertising are just a small part of the equation.
Products and customer service are more important.

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