Yes, all three companies have customer support. All three companies have retail channels. All three sell gadgets, but only one sells their own gadgets by the hundreds of millions each year. What Apple has that Amazon and Google do not is the advantage of a real store with face-to-face customer support. That means Apple has expenses that Amazon and Google do not.
Amazon Addict Complaint
Based upon the number of retail stores throughout America and the rest of the world, there’s a good chance you’ve seen an actual Apple employee; live, in the flesh, smiling face and colorful t-shirt. This advantage and expense should not be overlooked. It has value.
Similarly, can you say the average smartphone, tablet, or personal computer owner has seen a support person from the same company, face to face? No. Microsoft has but a few dozen retail stores. Most traditional PCs are sold from websites or 800-numbers. Most smartphones are sold at cell phone carrier stores.
Apple is the anomaly. Apple has an advantage and an expense that most competitors cannot match. Yes, Google also develops and publishes Android OS to compete with iPhone and iOS, but Google’s own smartphone sales are anemic to iPhone by comparison. Android smartphone makers do not have the same expense as Google and certainly not the same expense as Apple’s retail stores.
Have you ever talked to a Google employee face to face? Or, an Amazon employee? Or, anyone from Samsung?
Jason Perlow is an admitted Amazon addict and isn’t ashamed of it.
My wife and I spend a lot of money with Amazon. We have their credit card, we are Prime members, and we do our online shopping with Amazon almost exclusively. Our garage has so many empty Amazon shipping boxes in it that we have to purge our supply every few weeks or find novel uses for them.
Apparently, writing for well-known technology rags pays well. Apple knows about every single device I’ve purchased from them, so treatment at the Genius Bar seems to match. Apple breeds loyalty and trust and a reputation for treating a billion customers beyond expectations.
However, when you are an (sic) Amazon — and you are leveraging a huge reputation for customer loyalty and service, and you’re trying to be the leader in IoT and consumer cloud — that support experience must be pristine. It must be exemplary.
I’m not sure over-the-phone qualifies as exemplary, but let’s roll with that for now.
How’s that new Amazon Echo device working out, Jason?
I did not get an exemplary support experience from Amazon’s after hours Echo support line last night. Instead, I received some of the worst support I have ever experienced, from a technology company, ever.
It’s hard to believe that no support whatsoever could be worse, but that happens, too.
Over the last few weeks, my Echo Dot has been acting strangely. It frequently loses connection to the internet, and I’ve had to reboot it a few times a day.
It is electronic. Things happen.
Yesterday evening, after rebooting it, it went crazy. It started saying it lost its internet connection, nonstop, for about five minutes.
Easy fix. Take it to the nearest Amazon Store for replacement. Oh, wait.
I figured the device malfunctioned and needed replacement, because my other Echo, the original one, has been working flawlessly.
That’s a fair assessment. I’ve had a few Apple products get all fritzy in my face and the company’s replacement and repair has been stellar.
Uh oh. You can see this one coming from a mile away. Or, a few dozen feet.
I explained that the Echo Dot was in the same room as an access point, my living room, and that it was about 10 or 12 feet away from it. She then proceeded to tell me that it was too far away to make a wireless connection and that my access point must have a bad signal. That I should place it directly next to the access point or router for best experience.
I told you so.
From there is all goes downhill and Perlow devoted his phone time to arguing with technical support personnel who didn’t know what they were talking about, escalated the problem to another with a slightly better command of English, but a representative who wouldn’t authorize a replacement, reconditioned, new, or not.
This is disappointing, stupid and short-sighted on Amazon’s part, considering I’d be using store credit and a little good will goes a long way with the sheer volume of purchases I make with them on a monthly let alone yearly basis.
Damn, I love shopping in an Apple Store and visiting with folks at the Genius Bar when a problem crops up.
All this from avowed Amazon Addict Jason Perlow who topped off the experience this way:
- I’d first recommend that if you are considering an Alexa device, that you don’t get a Dot, especially if Amazon’s recommendation on wireless proximity for that device is true.
- I would also question any further Echo purchases and look at competing products. I’m now looking at Google Home and Apple HomePod. That can’t be Amazon’s desired outcome.
- And to Amazon? All I can say is that you are in huge danger of sabotaging your relationship with loyal customers if you cannot provide exemplary service and you fail to provide the leadership that is required of a company presuming to be entirely customer-focused.
To be honest, every company that makes and sells products has their share of horror stories like that given to Jason Perlow. Apple is not exempt. Perlow’s experience could be the anomaly. But Apple also knows the value of a satisfied customer, and goes the few extra steps to keep that satisfaction– it’s built into the price tag, just as the expense of building hundreds of stores, managing and maintaining support staff, and even publishing a proprietary operating system for each device is more than worth the effort and the expense because there are customers who are willing to pay for that kind of treatment.
Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.
I’m sure someone at Amazon regrets Perlow’s experience as much as public relations personnel at United Airlines regret certain recent events which became viral videos. Regret and humility often form the basis of improvement.