Apple’s Customers Just Won’t Kick The Habit


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In full disclosure, I am a big fan of Apple. I have an iPad, a MacBook Pro, several iPods of various sized, and (most recently acquired) an iPhone. I have all of these Apple products for two reasons: first, because they are cool gadgets that make my life easier. And second, because every experience I have with Apple is a positive experience. Which is why I was surprised when I read a recent Customer Management IQ article comparing Apple to a cable company.

Apple’s Customers Just Won’t Kick The Habit” posits that customer loyalty to Apple produces a purchasing desire so consistent that the brand’s revenue model can be likened to that of a subscription cable or utilities provider. This article quotes Toni Sacconaghi, the researcher who developed the Apple-as-utility provider hypothesis, as stating “We believe that rather than being a transactional company with volatile revenues, Apple is a platform company with stable, almost annuity-like revenue streams, driven by strong user lock-in.” Article author Brian Cantor explains that Apple’s customers are so loyal that they will undoubtedly continue to buy Apple products: An iPhone will be replaced by another iPhone, a MacBook with another MacBook, and so on, such that “Apple has a built-in audience that presumes it will buy the next version, the same way a cable company’s audience anticipates it will pay its monthly bill.”

I wholeheartedly agree with Cantor’s proven premise that Apple customers are extremely loyal to products that, in many categories are more expensive than that of their competitor. However, based on my own personal experience, the reason for this is the company’s mastery of the user experience—both the experience I have using Apple products, and the experience I have with the brand and every touch-point. I am not the only one who has experienced the same pleasure at the customer experience provided by Apple—the company is a proven customer service leader. Among many accolades, Apple has taken the #1 spot on the American Customer Satisfaction Index for 8 years running and was ranked highest in customer satisfaction among smartphone manufacturers by J.D. Power and Associates. Conversely, I pay my cable company every month simply because I am too lazy to switch providers, and because the service hasn’t recently been bad enough for me to look into other options in my service area.

Last week when I purchased my new iPhone, I even discovered that the company has accomplished something that I thought was impossible: making self-service enjoyable. Even though I purchased my iPhone at the AT&T store, I went to the Apple Store to buy a new case for it. While in the Apple Store, I was assisted by a very helpful sales associate who not only walked me through the process of buying an iPhone case as if it were the most important sale of the day, but even went so far as to tell me about and help me with the process of downloading and using the “Apple Store” app, which allowed me to purchase said iPhone case using a QR code reader within the app, which then charged the purchase to my iTunes account.

The sales associate likely spent more time assisting me through the process of first downloading the app, then attempting to make the purchase and subsequently failing at that, updating the credit card info in my iTunes account and finally completing the purchase than he would have had he just walked me to the cash register and rung me up right then and there. This was the first time that I had an interaction with a self-service tool where I actually had someone show me how to use it, and walk me through any problems I might encounter. I left the Apple Store feeling very in-the-know in regards to the new app (versus the frustration I feel when I use the self-service checkout at the grocery store and I am hard-pressed to find assistance when the interface freezes up, or won’t recognize certain pieces of produce). I wholeheartedly believe that this stellar experience is proof positive that customer service is the reason Apple’s customers just won’t kick the habit.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Linda Dickerhoof
I am very happy to be working for VIPdesk as the company's Director of Marketing and Public Relations. I live in Arlington, VA and am one of a small few who can claim to be an almost-native of the Washington D.C. metro area–my family moved to the area when I was 5 years old, and I never left. I love living in the Nation's Capital and taking advantage of everything that the city has to offer.


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