Apple’s customer journey in need of a re-route?

29th Jan 2014

Under the stewardship of the late Steve Jobs, Apple’s customer service was seen as avant-garde; a beacon by which supposedly faceless technology companies should follow, and a pioneer in understanding the importance of the customer journey. Jobs’ meticulous nature in this particular arena paid off – Apple spent most of the 2000s blowing all other technology providers out of the water.   

So, have the other tech giants now caught up, or is Apple’s grip on the ‘Ultimate Legend of Customer Service’ award slipping? A bit of both, if Forrester’s latest report on Customer Experience in the US is anything to go by.

Based on a survey to 7,500 US-based consumers, in which they were asked questions including how enjoyable companies were to do business with and how effective companies were at meeting their needs, Apple fell behind fellow consumer electronics manufacturers Amazon, Sony, Microsoft and Samsung in delivering customer experience; the first time they’d ever featured lower than first place in the industry-specific poll.

Overall, the consumer electronics industry was rated only behind retail, hotels and shipping/delivery for quality of experience, and while Apple’s rating was higher than that of many other sector leaders, the fact that their score falls behind many of their direct industry competitors will worry the technology giants.      

The survey divided company ratings into different categories depending on how they interact with the customer, breaking companies like Amazon down into key variables such as the experience of purchasing products like the Kindle and for the retail experience of buying things like books from

Amazon scored highest among the 17 consumer-electronics manufacturers operating in North America. It was the only manufacturer to get an ‘excellent’ rating for the customer experience it delivers to Kindle buyers, with those surveyed giving it an overall score of 91 out of 100.  

Sony came in second with a rating of 83, while Microsoft and Samsung followed one point behind at 82, while Apple scored 81, in joint fifth place alongside HP.  

Many stories exist about the degree of detail Apple has taken its customer service strategy in the past, with every aspect scrupulously designed by  Steve Jobs and co to help build a strong sense of loyalty in customers. The company is said to only employee people it judges to have “a magnetic personality”, while Jobs himself was known for calling customers up personally, if a complaint they’d made about a product warranted a discussion into how to make things better.        

But the company has experienced a dip in fortunes since Jobs passed away in 2011. Stock price is said to have shed almost a quarter in price, while the company’s flagship mobile devices, the iPad and iPhone, have come under attack from companies such as Samsung and Microsoft, losing share in both markets as a result.  

And with customers seemingly starting to turn their backs on the Apple experience, current CEO, Tim Cook may need to put in some meticulous planning of his own, to return the company to the place where it used to claim rights to – top of the technology customer experience tree. 

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