Over the past few days both my wife and I managed to drop our iPhones and shatter the screens. I headed to Apple's website and clicked through the "Support" pages and easily found a price list for iPhone screen replacement showing that fixing our phones would cost only $109 for each phone.
Relieved that the price wasn't going to be $200 or $300 each, I clicked the "Start a Service Request" button. Apple's website stepped me through a series of easy-to-understand and beautifully-designed web pages asking for more information about my phone. Then came the page with the Repair Estimate: over $300 including tax and shipping to fix each phone.
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I went back to the beginning to make sure I didn't miss any fine-print. No fine print visible, and the page still said $109 to fix a screen. It also clearly stated that broken screens are not covered by warranty, so that's not the issue. So I tried again, started a new service request, put in my info again...over $300 again.
Back to the beginning but this time I clicked the "text chat" button. It popped a new browser window which gave a mysterious error. Tried a couple more times with that, and got the same result each time.
Finally I clicked the "Have someone call me" button. My phone rang immediately and within a minute I was talking to a technician. I explained that I had to replace the shattered screen on my iPhone and asked how much it would cost.
"Let me look that up," he said. "One hundred nine dollars plus tax."
"That's what the website says, but every time I try to start a service request it says the price will be three hundred bucks."
"Yes, that's confusing and I get a lot of questions about that," the technician explained. "The way it works is that if your phone is repairable we will fix any problem for no more than $299 plus tax and shipping. If it costs less to repair we refund the difference. So if the only thing wrong with your phone is the screen is broken it will be $109 and you would get a refund of a little under $200. But if something else needs to be fixed the technician will repair that too and it will be more expensive."
This process was explained nowhere (that I could find) on Apple's website or as part of the service request, and from what the support technician said I was far from the only confused customer. But because of my confusion I spent far more time on this than I had to, and Apple paid for a support call that should have been avoided. I also came away feeling that this experience, while maybe not awful, wasn't as smooth as it should have been.
998 Things Right, Two Things Wrong
Apple, of course, is famous for its outstanding customer experience. But as I'm fond of saying, good customer experience is about doing a thousand little things right.
Here are some of the many things Apple did right in my support experience:
- It was easy to find the price for replacing an iPhone screen.
- The price was very reasonable and less than I expected.
- It was simple to start the repair process from the website.
- Apple collected my phone information easily with minimal effort on my part.
- I was given multiple support options, and Apple didn't try to bury the option for phone support.
- I was able to talk to a technician within a minute or two.
- The technician was personable, had good phone skills, was patient, and was knowledgeable.
- The technician was able to give me different support options and solve my problem quickly.
- I am confident my phone will be fixed promptly at the price I was quoted.
Here's what went wrong:
- The price prominently displayed on the website did not match what I was asked to pay and no explanation was offered.
- Text chat wasn't working.
But even though almost everything about this support experience went right, those couple of support misfires wound up costing me time, costing Apple money, and added up to a meaningful amount of un-Apple-like frustration.
What's more, it was clear from the technician's comments that at least some people inside Apple know that this is a problem. So it's a little mysterious to me why Apple, again famous for its customer experience and attention to detail, hasn't noticed that the support center is fielding calls from customers confused about the cost to fix an iPhone screen and done something to relieve the confusion.
Given my general satisfaction with Apple, as a customer I'm not going to hold this against them for long (unless similar things keep happening in the future).
But even a company like Apple sometimes doesn't always get all the details right. And as my experience shows, getting even a couple details wrong can be costly in time, money, and customer frustration.