Apple Saved Customer Service

I began my career in the 90's, when computers and automation were taking hold of most consumer industries. This was a transition from speaking to customer service on the phone to automated telephone banking. We prized efficiency and companies who didn't think this way were un-competative. Lean and mean was what we aimed for. Effective gave way to efficient.

During this time, we also had the magic of Microsoft Windows. Over the past 20 years I became a sort of IT amateur since I had to maintain and trouble shoot my Windows computers at work and at home. I accepted this as the price to pay for "working with computers". Deep down inside, most of us knew Windows could be made better but why would a 'monopoly' behave any different? After all, if we wanted a computer that is easier to use and hardly needs maintenance, we could buy Apple. But that was a difficult option in a business. We were essentially stuck with Microsoft.Read More

I feel that my consumer experience during the 90's with the mediocrity of Windows, big banks, cable companies,... shaped the way I thought about customer service. All that really mattered seemed to be 'revenue' and that single minded focus was ok since everyone thought that way. Welcome to average, homogenization. You can give average (or even bad) service and still keep customers, even grow your business. Give me your money and don't ask too many questions.

So what's happened over the past 5 years? Business has evolved. The 80's-90's started a disruptive digital revolution toward more efficient business practices. But in the end, the customer needs to be served for a business to succeed. Fortunately, as soon as there is an improvement in customer experience, the wedge is in place and those who react slowly begin to take a hit. So it is no surprise Apple has dominated recently. The iPhone alone generates more revenue than all windows products. People line up for the most expensive phone on the market. Can you imagine? You offer the most expensive product and people line up for it, even get trampled trying to buy it? Why? Because Apple created something we want. It works, it's beautiful, it improves how we do things. I haven't bought Apple products because I have to (like I did with Microsoft), I buy them because they are awesome. It is the antidote to Microsoft's and the banking industry's 'average'.

This is also why RIM has failed. They assumed they had the business market locked up but forgot that businesses are made up of individual consumers. Command and control IT has given way to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). I guess RIM's leadership didn't see this coming. I don't blame them...they're too busy spending their bonuses and buying sports franchises. I'm sure they're nostalgic for the 90's.

Perhaps Apple isn' the first in recent years to affect the customer experience, but they are clearly exemplary. This, along with the transparency of business due to the internet and specifically social media is becoming the benchmark. Fading are the days of grandstanding and spinning the message to fool the public and consumer. It's getting harder to lie now. Consumers are king once again and I like that. It feels fair.

Anyway, that's how the world get's better. Companies like Apple want to make things better, more beautiful. If they get rich along the way, more power to them. Thank you to Apple for pushing others to do the same.


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