Bad Apple: You have let me down

I dread to think how much money I have spent with you over the last few years.

A couple of IPad’s (one of which my three year old daughter now demands exclusive access to).  An IPod for each of my two boys. IPhones for myself and the wife. A laptop, a computer and an Apple TV. That’s before I even think about the music, movies and apps that you make it so easy for me to spend my money on.

Up until now the service I have received from you has always been superb. Whenever people ask me for examples of great customer experiences, I would always recount my interactions with Apple. So what went wrong?

Apple Genius Bar

The famous Apple Genius Bar


Last week my wife booked an appointment to see one of your Geniuses at our local Apple Store. Her brand new laptop had developed a fault, it wouldn’t wake up from sleep mode. Having previously experienced your after sales care when my iPhone developed a problem, I felt confident that she would be blown away with the ‘Apple’ in store experience. Unfortunately I was wrong!

If you focus purely on the outcome, then she walked away with a new working laptop. Success?

Unfortunately customer experience is rarely that straightforward. We hear time and time again how emotional factors play in important part in brand experience and perception. A customer can be taken down many different routes to reach the same outcome. Some will delight, giving a warm glowing feeling. Others can frustrate with unnecessary effort and obstacles or simply an encounter with an employee who fails to listen to, understand and respond to the customers emotional needs.

I’ve been to many Apple stores in the past and experienced frictionless service. Your highly refined processes and technology make it so easy it to browse, buy and access service if needed. I’ve experienced several encounters with your employees who are friendly, passionate and accommodating.  So what happened this time?

Made to feel ‘stupid’

To cut a long story short, my wife walked out of your store feeling upset and concerned. Upset at the way she had been treated – in her words you made her feel ‘stupid’. Concerned that she had lost valuable photographs and documents.

It just goes to show that it doesn’t matter how slick your process and technology are, ultimately a great customer experience can be made (or broken) by people. It is so important that employees are focussed not just on the successful conclusion of a customer’s problem but on the emotional journey they are taken on to get there.

I am sure that on this occasion my wife simply had an encounter with a bad apple. Unfortunately it has left a sour taste!

Stuart Dorman

Stuart Dorman


Stuart has over thirteen years’ experience as a call centre consultant and is currently responsible for leading the consultancy practice at Sabio, which is focussed on helping contact centres to improve through better use of technology, process optimisation and a focus on people. Stuart is a recognised thought leader in the contact centre industry, regularly producing thought-provoking white papers, speaking at industry events and judging top industry awards in Europe.

December 11, 2013


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