18 September 2005

Great Customer Service Supporting a Great Product

Posted by Jameson Penn
Working in the consulting field of Customer Relationship Management, I can't help but notice when a company does something better than I expect, and applaude their service. Recently, my beloved iPod mini has been acting up and three days ago, the screen just stopped working. I was very concerned having had plenty of fancy electronic toys crap out on me in the past. In fact, my past experiences braced me for the worst. To Apple's credit, the worst as I expected never happened.

This morning I logged onto the website for my local apple store at Tysons Corner and placed myself in their intuitive queue for support from their supposed genius bar. It just seemed to easy. My appointment would be for 3:05. I drove over to the store, and walked in the store right at 2:45. This gave me enough time to wander the aisles of their foreign hardware and fiddle with the new iPod Nano.

Nice design, and I love the flash memory, but I wouldn't be able to justify the extra expense for a 2 gig mp3 player. When it's time to upgrade Christina's lifestyle, I am still leaning towards a twin iPod mini for her, however I hope for the new flash drive, which will go for the same price as the Nano.

Just as I was fiddling with the JBL subwoofer and tweeters that resemble a school of jellyfish, I heard a genius call my name: Jameson? Jameson Penn? I checked the clock to my left: 2:55 -- 10 minutes before my assigned appointment time. I was quite impressed with their ability to get ahead of schedule. Well done.

I sidle up to the Genius Bar and take out my injured iPod mini. My personal genius looks too hip for his own good, with his mod-style hair, black pants and black shirt, and wide-ruled rhinestone belt. How very Apple. He reads off my summary I entered on the website and I explain I have tried the soft and hard resets, full battery charge, and still no luck. He asks if my iPod software has been updated. I say the most recent version I had was from February of this year, which leads him to grin as though he has quickly solved my problem. His optimism leads to my smile, as I say, that easy?

He plugs in my iPod, updates the software and... nothing. He sighs. Never good when the genius sighs. He quickly punches the keys on his keyboard, turns to me and says: "I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that your iPod is faulty. I see no reason for the failure. I mean, it doesn't look as though it has been dropped (it hadn't). That leads me to the good news. You'll be getting a new iPod. Let me go check our stock."

He jets off, leaving me stunned. In a matter of five minutes, they have admitted that the product may be faulty, resolved the issue, and are about to set me off on my way. At this point, the only thing for me to do is sign a form acknowledging the faulty product, and head on home. Not bad.

Don't get me wrong: I will never be one of the switch stories. But as an avid free marketeer and active consumer, I look to highlight great experiences I have with businesses. There's no way that I will ever join the odd cult of Apple but I will certainly take advantage of their innovatively intuitive products and, now, their seamless customer service. Well done, Apple. Well done.


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