June 25th 2014
By Mike Flaminio
John Moltz for Macworld
To hear Tim Cook talk about it, Apple takes customer satisfaction very seriously, far more seriously than its competitors. But that may not quite be it: The difference between Apple and its competitors is that Apple's customers and end-users are one and the same.
By now you've heard the adage that if you're not paying for a product then you are the product; hence, Google's true customers are advertisers. Microsoft's situation is more muddled: Many of Microsoft's customers are corporations that care more about cheap licensing and centralized management than user experience. When Microsoft sells a license to an OEM, the OEM is kind of a customer, as is the end user. I doubt OEMs would give Microsoft high customer satisfaction ratings, but maybe advertisers would give Google high marks.
There are some good thoughts here, but Moltz is just touching the surface. I think you can't argue Microsoft, Google, and HP aren't customer-driven. They are, but as Moltz points out Apple is in a unique position to better deliver for the consumer. That's one advantage, but when thinking of Apple and its focus on customers it's probably minor. The biggest advantage I think is Tim Cook.
While Apple may struggle to push innovation through the product line as well as it did with Steve Jobs, I think Apple is going to be more customer driven under Cook. I wouldn't be surprised if this proves to boost Apple further than the latest new gadget or feature.
I called AppleCare for the first time in a while. I'm just the type of person who will bang my head against the wall trying to figure out a problem rather than ask for help. Same with driving and direction. I had an issue though where iOS 8 beta wiped out my audio books. PSA: You can't re-download audio books like the rest of iTunes purchases. You need to actually sync those purchased to a computer -- something I haven't done since iTunes Match launched.
I did some research and figured out I was stuck and needed to call for help. I've had good experiences with AppleCare in the past and I fully expected they would fix my issue. In fact, I had to do something like this once a long time again after a data loss. I had asked if there was a way I could restore my some lost purchases. When I called I got a lecture on backing up my purchases and how this was a one time deal to help me out. I was grateful for gods of Cupertino to show me mercy. In retrospect, that was pretty bad customer service, even though they helped me. It really wasn't my fault Apple's system wouldn't let me re-download purchases nor that Apple didn't provide a backup solution that worked for customers, like we have now. I assume, like now, the issue with re-downloads is licensing mumbo jumbo. That's not a customer problem. When I called this time, the CSR apologized profusely and fixed my problem enthusiastically. The experience to the similar problem from a years back night and day different. Beyond that, overall the rep was better than what I considered already great service.
Remember "you're holding it wrong" and the iPhone 4 antenna defect? That was all Steve Jobs and the opposite of customer focused. That's no longer Apple under Tim Cook and that has nothing to do with building the whole widget. That's fundamental shift that's great for Apple and its customers.