Is Apple’s customer service record in decline?

1st Sep 2015

Given its position as one of the world’s biggest companies, it’s unsurprising that Apple is constantly under scrutiny for its service delivery.

However, the current quarter has seen the technology giant take a tumble in one of the US’s top benchmarks for customer service, begging the question – is Apple’s service finally on the slide?

In the Q2 StellaService report, Apple was criticised for its approach to phone, email and live chat problem resolution.

While Apple typically ranks highly in this category, between April and July of this year, the amount of time customers had to wait to chat to an Apple rep increased from 34 seconds to 63 seconds - 20 seconds slower than the sector average.

Even when people do get to chat to someone, the successful chat resolution rate — referring to the questions answered satisfactorily — fell from 97% to 94%.

Wait times increased to 121 seconds, although the resolution rate was much better, at 99% success.

According to Cult of Mac, part of the nosedive can be attributed to changes in the way StellaService ranks companies, while “the arrival of the Apple Watch has additionally put strains on Apple resources”.

The result is Apple has fallen from 3rd to 25th place in the rankings between Q4 last year and now.

This follows on from a Forrester survey last year that said Apple had fallen 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.

And Nick Parker, strategy partner at language consultancy, The Writer, recently told that Apple’s overwhelming approach to its products and services’ terms and conditions was having a negative effect on the company’s customer experience, too.

While it may not be a Julius Caesar moment for the company that posted the biggest quarterly profit ever made by a public company back in January, the slip may be an alarming one, and proof that other companies are upping their game.

Burberry and Zappos were among the 24 companies ranked higher than Apple in StellaService’s report, which ranks L.L. Bean as the customer service leader.         

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