What is the customer experience all about? That’s where Apple focuses more attention than any tech gadget competitor, but there’s more to that experience than meets the eye. A customer experience has many facets and Apple pays attention at levels competitors do not.
Face, Meet Fingers
A customer can be engaged by a product in many ways, but compare the basic customer experience of buying an Apple product at an Apple Store vs. buying any other product anywhere else, and then compare the customer experience when using the product.
Have you ever talked to a Google employee? Walk into an Apple Store and you’re likely to be greeted by an Apple associate multiple times before you leave. If not always technically proficient, they are friendly, courteous, and helpful. Google does not have an experience to match.
For the most part, you won’t have that face-to-face customer experience with Samsung, Google, HTC, Motorola, Dell, Lenovo, or any other tech gadget maker. Microsoft has their own stores, but they’re few and far between, and usually more populated by sales associates than customers.
Apple is not afraid to help customers face-to-face, whether through the initial purchase, personal setup, personal training on new products, or the Genius Bar for technical support. The experience is open and transparent.
Fingers, Meet Face
The other side of the customer experience has to do with using the product, and, again, in this area, Apple excels by providing customers with a uniform experience that includes easy integration between devices by using iCloud and wireless connections. The Handoff feature, for example, lets you begin a document on one device, and pick up where you left off on another. Ditto for email and web browsing and many other applications.
The user interface is similar across devices, so once you know how to use an iPhone, you already know how to use an iPad, and thanks to LaunchPad and point and click, Windows PC users who have already used an iPhone or iPad can easily navigate a Mac and OS X, yet feel safer thanks to the dearth of malware. Historically, Apple does not throw every possible feature or function into a device; Mac, iPhone, or iPad. Instead, company constantly explores what users actually need and use instead of providing a catalog of potential that is seldom discovered by the customer.
Just as notable is Apple’s new found love of operating system penetration. That means Apple wants as many Mac, iPhone, and iPad users to upgrade to the latest version of OS X or iOS as possible each year. That unified approach makes for a more resilient and predictable ecosystem populated by customers using the same basic OS features. By the time iOS 10 arrives in the fall or late summer of 2016, it’s likely that nearly 90-percent of all customers will be using the latest version, iOS 9. That uniformity creates a better customer experience and makes support– apps and OS– substantially simpler.
Through the years Apple’s customers have been called zealots, fanatics, and cult members; starting first with the Mac, but these days it’s hard to call an iPhone or iPad owner a cult member. Not many cults have half a billion members.
What sets Apple apart is the ability to create a customer experience that is both broad and deep. The purchase process is simple and straightforward, not harsh, cold, and threatening. Even customer support is a face-to-face opportunity, and an experience you’re not likely to find with anything made by Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Dell, Lenovo, or other device makers.
All those elements combine to form a customer experience which endears both the company and the products to customers.