Customer Service is something to be cherished

Customer service is something to be cherished and used to be something that in the U.S. was far superior to anywhere else I had been, apart from Asia. However, things are slipping…at least in the U.S.

I have had problems with a major company this week. It is a company that markets wonderful products such as tablets, phones and mp3 players, all bearing an Apple logo.

I have been having problems with Traveler Lotus Notes recently which I had installed in my iPad2.  The replication has been slow and in the calendar, it had taken anywhere from 2 to 10 hours for an entry to be replicated between the iPad and my Blackberry. When I first got my iPad I used to be in awe as I made an entry in the Lotus Notes calendar on my pc, and then tuned to my iPad and watched the entry suddenly, like a Harry Potter spell, magically appear.

A few weeks ago. I downloaded the new operating system, iOS 5. This was quite an epic and involved going into iTunes to link and download the new system. From what I can understand, it allowed the user a few more features, such as 4 finger navigation that made some of the previous features of the iPad obsolete. But what It really did was allow users to have access to the iCloud. A new secret weapon that will change the way we save, store and retrieve things.

A few days later I noticed the problem with the replication. I spoke with our IT staff and this was outside their mandate and so decided I needed help form Apple. Then started the saga. I looked up the store on the web, which I had been to before, both to purchase several products, as well as buy accessories and attend training classes. I called the number shown on the web site. Guess what? A recorded voice told me it was no longer in service. What? An Apple store with a telephone number no longer in service? Shock! Horror! Really? I called again and again just to make sure it was not me being digitally inept. No, it was out of service.

So how do I get help now? I asked around and discovered that help was not 911 but really 411 and so called it….and yes, they did have a different number. Now, we are talking about an extremely popular product in an area of affluence at a time when the iPhone 4 had just been launched. Really?

photo_oakbrook1-300x233So, I decided, as the store is only 15 minutes away from where I work, to go there and seek technical assistance. On arriving at the store, there was a line out of the door! Sales? Jobs? No! A blue polo shirted amiable man approached the front of the line, which I joined and asked people for their reservation number for the new iPhone 4. Oh My God! 2 weeks after the launch, people were still getting in line to get it!

When the young man got to me I told him I was there for a technical issue and I got waived through into a the store where loads of blue shirted, Apple logo’s evangelists swarmed around the latest tombs from Moses.

I asked the nearest evangelist who was sporting an iPad like a gunslinger, how I obtained technical support. I was told that I had to book a time. I did; in about 2 hours time. I returned in 2 hours time…exactly! On entering the store, the same melee was going on and I checked in with one of the evangelists. She was looking me up and down and I asked why. “Oh, I’m entering your description so that when you decide where to wait, the technician can locate you.” So off I went to my chosen location and waited, and waited and waited….

After 25 minutes, I left. I did not have the time to go through all the details by then, so I decided just to leave and re-arrange!

I left disenchanted. Apple had given me so many good things and then…let me down! So what’s the lesson from this? Apple is revered, and rightly so, but must deliver on the promise that they continually stress is unique.

So, what’s the lesson?

  • Make sure your contact numbers on web sites are up to date.
  • Make it clear what services are available and when.
  • Deliver on the promise…if you are positioned as the elite, then BE the elite!

There is a happy ending. I did book another appointment and the advice I was given was sound and worked. Thank goodness…my belief and hope were restored in a brand that most of us revere!

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