Apple’s rotten core?
My definition of a large company is not numerical, it is “one where the customer can’t speak to the boss and leaves that to a department called customer services”. I understand that large companies, like SMEs, have only one boss and it is unreasonable to expect them to deal personally with all their customers. Nor do I. But what I find equally unreasonable are the obstacles put in your way to prevent you from speaking to someone in authority when the system set up by those self-same people doesn’t work.
Here’s my latest instance of this – Apple (you’ve been waiting for the A word haven’t you?). I have bought several products from them over the years, since I believed them to be good, easy to use and with high levels of customer care. But in January I was irritated by the poor compatibility with MS Office and then deeply upset with the failure of my Apple TV which had to be returned. When the second Apple TV stopped working you can understand that I was VERY DISAPPOINTED – to the level achieved by Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda.
My resolution to curb my psychopathic tendencies (think crushed dogs and John Cleese being held out of a window upside down) was hindered by the system put in place to allow me to resolve the issue
- The only place I can get telephone support, in English, is the USA.
- When I put my phone number into their dialog box with a leading zero they emailed me to say they couldn’t contact me.
- When I put it in with +44 they said it was invalid.
- When I rang their toll-free number I was told it was not toll-free outside USA.
Having resolved the issue I asked for £50 to recompense me for the phone calls and two hours spent in this way and was transferred from one to another and then another person with whom to discuss the matter. Discussion seems to be corporate speak for no. And compensation of £50 to a loyal customer seems to be more expensive than acquiring another customer.
So I’m not happy with Apple and have this opportunity to tell you so.
But maybe Apple doesn’t want me as a customer? An erudite friend told me that Apple is removing Skeuomorphs from their User Interfaces. In plain English this means that whereas, so far, they would use a picture of a calendar on the phone to indicate, er, a calendar, in future the calendar will be represented by something else, not a calendar. The thinking, so I’m told, is to make Apple special, different to everyone else, and desirable amongst those who appreciate leading edge designs. This, I suggest, does not include middle-aged entrepreneurs.
So maybe I am experiencing a double pronged strategy to remove me from Apple’s fan base? If so I must say it’s very effective. Just one question occurs to me: how will Apple maintain its revenues in this dramatic shift from friendly intuitive products bought by those with high spending power, to leading edge products enjoyed by the clique of design aficionados?
To grow a big company requires big decisions but it also, as with all business, requires them to be thoroughly researched and carefully carried out. We too have re-worked our strategy over the past 12 months, to become fully focussed on improving cashflow for SMEs and the Index which I shared with you is the public face of that. Its representation will remain resolutely skeuomorphic (and destined NOT to win any design awards).
Apple’s rotten core?