Is your company making the same huge mistake as Apple?

 

I am an unabashed fan of Apple’s tech support. In my experience, theirs is the finest in all the land by a wide margin. 

When I submit a request, they call me within two or three minutes.

It’s nice that their tech reps are invariably pleasant and courteous. What’s even nicer is that they are technically skilled people and not low-level clerks reading from the manual, like the ones over at my cable and wireless company.

Tech helpers initiate screenshare sessions and walk me through solutions in real time. If they are unable to solve my problem, they connect me with a supervisor who has even more experience and knowledge. And the supervisor stays with it until my problem is solved.

For unlimited help like this on my Mac, I pay $99 for 3 years of no waiting express lane service on my hardware, software, and operating system. I buy similar plans for my iPads and iPhones and have learned this is money well-spent.

So what’s the problem?

I have two, actually. During my most recent session, the rep put me on hold while he located a supervisor who specialized in the issue I was having. Immediately I was blasted by some really awful music. If I muted it, I wouldn’t be able to hear when he came back on the line, so I lowered the volume as much as I could while retaining enough to listen for him.

When the rep came back I asked what my placed-on-hold music options were and was stunned when he said “none.” Good grief, I said. Apple has iTunes and Apple Music. Why don’t you give us a choice of genres and artists? It would keep us happy and occupied and may even sell some music. 

That’s a good point, he said, giving me a web address and suggesting I go there to make my recommendation. 

This was my second problem. Why would I want to go somewhere else and fill out a long form, I asked, when I have already told you about it? Why should I have to do it all over again? Every company records their phone sessions, just like you are doing now. Wouldn’t this be a great place to use some very simple and already-existing software to capture, sort, and catalog comments from your customers in real time while they’re talking to your reps? A well-designed system would have your reps actively soliciting comments and suggestions at the end of the session.

Those who have been around know we cannot depend on customers to formally voice their concerns because most won’t bother.

Is it possible that Apple doesn’t know what the rest of us do – that nine out of ten people don’t bother to make suggestions or register complaints because: 

  • It’s too much trouble.
  • The company won’t do anything about it.
  • No one cares anyway.

A customer satisfaction business model that has data in the palm of its hand but throws it away it is a bad one. 

How about your company? Can you afford to ignore live comments and suggestions from your customers? A very clever organization would build a system that captures real-time comments and suggestions made by customers during tech support calls. And while they’re at it, they could do the same with customer service calls, too. 

It strikes me as wrongheaded for a company to expect they can really understand what’s going on with their customers when their feedback model ignores ninety percent of them. 

How much money and goodwill is your phone-in customer service and support system leaving on the table? 

Outbound research into customer experiences costs a lot. Don’t waste the valuable information that arises in rich one-on-one customer interactions like this. 

Maybe with $245 billion in cash reserves Apple has enough to walk away from this kind of opportunity, but how about your company? What sort of system does your company have in place to capture recorded comments in real time instead of squandering this nearly-free resource? Even more basic, what kind of hold music do you use? Does it enrage your customers when it should be engaging them?

These and other opportunities are lying around unobserved in every business – even Apple – until someone who specializes in things like this comes in, looks around, and finds them. Someone like davidallanvan.com.