Surfing the Riptide of Customer Service, part 4

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Creative Commons License photo credit: ckaroli

Finally, the last installment of my friend’s Apple customer service story (start at Part One here), the in-store experience that finally resolves everything.

Here we go…

Wednesday arrives, I walk in, and head to the back … what’s called the Genius Bar. The guy says, “I’m sorry. Can’t check you in, no more available appointments.” So I explained what the girl on the phone told me and I get the, “Corporate doesn’t have a clue. We’ll put you on the wait list. Might take a few hours. Might not get to you today.”

And so, it’s Christmas morning again, and there’s the present I didn’t want instead of the present I dreamed of and wrote the letter to Santa Claus in great detail about.

I explain that Corporate isn’t the failure. The failure was in the training of the very first young lady I spoke to Sunday. Her bad information put me on the wrong path.

I notice a young lady listening carefully with a different colored t-shirt from the fellow I was speaking with. When I finish making him feel all of my pain, he says, “I’ll let the manager know and you’ll be in the queue. It might be a little while but we’ll try.”

So I wait a while and notice the wait list popping up … without my name on it. I look over the shoulder of the guy checking appointments in and, sure enough, I’m like #4 on the list. So I must be in a different list.

After a few minutes, the lady in the different colored t-shirt comes by and says, “I’m going to speak to the manager as well. It won’t be long.”

And she returns and says, “You’re next”. I’ve been standing around for 30+ minutes but I’m cool with that.

All this pain and suffering, just to get in front of a service person at what is supposed to be a very customer-oriented company.

Is that how you view your company, as a customer-oriented company?

Is there a black hole that customers can fall into and swim around in for hours or days before they pop up in the right place? It’s better that you find it than your customers do.

So now, we’re finally in front of a service person. Let’s see if the expectation of Apple’s care for the customer holds…

A young man walks up and says, “Joe? Let’s see what you have.” I hand him the iPod and say, “I bought a pair of these for Christmas. One works with both sets of headphones. This one works with neither.” He nods.

We walk to his workstation. He turns the device over, types in the serial number, and says, “I’ll get you a brand new one. It won’t have any of your current data on it. You’ll have to resynch on iTunes on your home computer.”

I’m cool with that.

He doesn’t test the unit I handed him. He didn’t even look at it except to read the serial number off of it. I’m out of there in 3 or 4 minutes after he’s started. (Emphasis mine – Mark)

I get home late that night and plug the iPod into my wife’s laptop. It takes a little while but iTunes jumps up. It says it’s a new device and wants to verify what iTunes account this is associated with. I tell it and it immediately offers to download Joe Jr’s settings into it … that’s the one I swapped … and away it goes for 30 minutes if not more.

Finally, it’s finished. I update a few apps that had updates since the last sync. It doesn’t remember my wireless network’s password but it remembers the network name. I put in the password and away it goes.

Then, it doesn’t know the email account’s password though it knows the account name. I put that in.

Everything is as it was before except the headphone jack now works.

So, if you get entered into the queue correctly, they seem to have pretty darn good service.

One little snag caused all that happened over the last 3 parts of this story – and as you see, it could have been resolved in 3 or 4 minutes.

One snag that could lose an influential client for Apple. Fortunately for them, it didn’t.

Are your biggest or most influential clients this patient?

Study your customer service logs. Talk to your most angry customers. Find the cases that dragged on “forever”.

Figure out where your customer service blackhole is.

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