Here’s a fact that many don’t know: the secret to Apple’s success and the reason why it is a leading tech brand is because of their exceptional customer service levels
Apple’s humble beginning happened on 19th May 2001 when the mega-brand opened its first store in Tysons, Virginia. Back then, the price of an Apple share was a mere $1.68.
Today, Steve Job’s vision coupled with the undying devotion of Apple’s employees towards the brand has made it one of the most valuable companies in the world.
Apple’s share is worth nearly $200 in today’s time. And the brand boasts around 506 stores across 24 countries brining it nearly 500 million visitors a year.
Apple’s magnanimous success is an ode to its innovative product development. Thering avant-garde product names such as the iPod, iPhone, and iPad created whole new markets that attracted millions of loyal customers.
Apple nurtured these customers by turning one-time buyers into loyal customer advocates.
This article highlights some of the ways Apple retains its users and the important customer service lessons you can apply to your tech business.
5 Key Lessons You Can Take From Apple’s Customer Service
1. Don’t Outsource Customer Service
Until 1997, Apple computers were sold through retail chains and other authorized outlets.
Steve Jobs broke this pattern, severing Apple’s ties with over 10,000 third-party sellers and introduced Apple stores–the central part of its customer experience.
The company then inaugurated its first-ever Apple Store and modernized its website.
Apple recognized that service provided by third-party sellers can have a significant impact on the company’s reputation. Not being comfortable with this trade-off, the company transferred the entire customer service in-house.
This move gave Apple absolute control over the entire customer experience.
While this might not be an economically feasible option at the moment, you can still support your customers after they purchase your product.
The best way to do this is to communicate the various channels your customers can use to contact your support team.
This could be a live chat on your website, an email address, or social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook that allow immediate response.
2. Optimize Your Customers’ Buying Journey
Having its own stores allowed Apple to control all aspects of customer experience from the layout of the store to how the employees engaged with the customers.
In fact, to gauge the amount of thought that went into Apple’s first store, consider these three distinct sections:
- The entrance of the store was laden with Apple’s product line broken down by its target demographic.
- The center of the store was dedicated to examples of how an individual might use the products. This section of the store was divided thematically with sections of kids, movies, music, photo, and more.
- The back of the store was called the “Genius Bar” where customers could get their queries answered and products repaired.
These three distinct parts of the store were aligned with the final stages of the customer journey.
The setup ensured that not only do customers learn about Apple’s various products but also experience them first-hand and get their queries answered and problems resolved–all within the four walls of the store.
Controlling customer experience from the beginning until the end played a crucial role in creating Apple’s legions of fans. Many predicted the idea of having a separate store a complete failure.
However, Jobs surprised them by leaps and bounds. At $5,546, Apple stores possess the leading sales per square foot in the US retail market.
3. Thoroughly Train Your Employees
The Genius Training Student Workbook highlights the level of effort Apple put into developing a system that catered to customer interactions.
The company strived to have a strong positive impact on every customer and they did this by training their staff to meet customer expectations–all of them.
If you wish to be the best at customer service, you must invest your resources in training your staff on how to serve the customer the right way. Good people skills need to be at the core of your support team’s hiring model.
Having the right framework and process in place is pivotal to companies that aim to provide superior customer experience.
4. Get Comfortable With Changes
Getting used to change can be challenging. Don’t be afraid to change the process completely if you believe that it will benefit your company in the long run–but do so cautiously.
Apple made these transitions too, however, the company did it in these three stages:
- One – It severed ties with over 10,000 retailers
- Two – It enforced a store within a store approach with Best Buy and CompUSA
- Three – When it saw a hike in the sales of computers, the company opened its own store
Each part of this process was a high-risk decision. However, the company minimized these risks by actualizing a powerful marketing plan in each stage.
5. Espouse A Customer-First Philosophy
If you carefully study Apple, you’ll realize the company believes in playing the long game.
Instead of putting ad dollars on every platform, they invested in building and nurturing a customer-first strategy.
The objective was to build a strong relationship with each and every customer and reduce customer churn.
For instance, employees at Apple do not have a sales target. Rather they are trained to engage visitors by selling the A-P-P-L-E way.
A – Approach the individual in the store with a personalized welcome.
P – Probe to understand what the individual is after.
P – Present a solution for them to take home.
L – Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns of the individual.
E – End the conversation with a fond farewell.
The company also has a proactive service that initiates a more friendly connection with the customer when they walk into the store.
For instance, if you book an appointment for product repair, the person at the front desk will take your information which will then be passed to the ‘Apple Geniuses’ who will use your name when introducing themselves.
When you study Apple, you learn how deeply the brand cares about its customer service standards.
Whether you’re a tech startup looking for ways to expand your business or a multinational enterprise looking to build a loyal fan following, there’s a lot you can learn from Apple’s customer service model.