Monday, January 9, 2017

The one Step you need to win a customer for life - and how Apple did it

"You have got to start with the customer experience and work back towards the technology - not the other way round." - Steve Jobs

"One customer well taken care of could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising." - Jim Rohn

Recently while I was working on my 4 year old Macbook, it suddenly got sick and would not boot up. [Okay, I was watching a movie, but still it was work for my computer, eyes and brain].
I tried a couple of times with no luck. Immediately I went to my phone and said: "OK Google, Macbook pro not starting with a folder and question mark".

The first result I got was the Apple support site with exactly what I was looking for: a solution to the problem I just told Google. I read through all the possible solutions and unfortunately none worked. The only solution that applied to my situation read something like this: "Your mac may need a repair. Please book an appointment at your nearest Genius Bar". I thought, great, its a nice excuse to hit a bar for a chilled pour. But to my disappointment, Apple calls its tech support station a Genius bar.

Me - "Looks like its time to buy a new laptop." My last laptop went on ventilator early in its 4th year and died soon after. This one was also in its 4th year, so that was a reasonable assumption. I also thought may be, I would not go for a mac again, after all its costly. Those were scary and sad moments. But before that, I had to give it a try for its repair.

As suggested by Google, I booked an appointment at the nearest Genius bar. The appointment was 4 days later. Without a laptop, days are slow :). During the days we were waiting for the appointment laptoplessly, I was suggested that I should go for a local repair store instead as they may charge less as compared to the coveted brand store. But I thought, lets give it a try at the store, ask them for a quotation and then decide what to do.

Finally the day of my appointment came. I had an appointment at 5, just after the end of my workday. Usually that's just fine, but Murphy's law kicked in. I had some urgent work to complete in the office at the same day and I missed my appointment by just 15 mins. When I reached the Genius Bar, it was crowded with a long queue full of people waiting for their turn. These were the people who get a chance when people like me screw up. I reached out to one of the associates at the Genius bar and asked if I can be squeezed in. As I had already guessed, he suggested otherwise, and the next available appointment was in the next week. I got disappointed by the thought of waiting for another week. But then he suggested that we could try another apple authorized store which is less crowded considering that it does not have the big logo on its front door.

Without wasting any time, I rushed to that store. When I reached the service desk, I was greeted with a welcome just like any other store. Then I told my problem quickly and handed over the laptop. The service desk associate ran some diagnostic tests and told me that it would be a couple of minutes before she can tell me whats wrong. Those 2 minutes were long. (In my head: oh man, whats f*#%ed?, how many dollars will I have to pay?, will all my data be lost?, will I have to buy a new laptop? I cannot afford a new Macbook again :() And then the service desk associate said, she believes she knows the problem. I said, oh, what is it? "The laptop is not booting because the cable connecting the motherboard with the hard drive is dysfunctional." I said okay, but is it repairable?
She said: "Of course, and you know what, you would not have to pay a penny as both the diagnosis and the repair for this particular problem are covered by Apple." She continued: "Apple recognizes that quite a few customers who bought laptops in mid 2012 faced this issue and hence, apple decided to bear the cost."

That was relaxing. More than that it was enriching.  Immediately, I felt pampered. All the thoughts that had crossed my mind a minute ago including the thought that I would not go for a mac again were gone and I was happy. Instantaneously I decided that eventually when I do have to buy a new computer, it would be nothing else but mac again.

It was a four years old mac, I personally don't think Apple had any obligation towards it. They could have easily charged me for the diagnosis as well as the new cable. I think most of the other companies would do the same and that would in no sense be unfair. After all the laptop had functioned optimally for last four years. But Apple decided to go the extra mile and honour the repairs even after the warranty period.

It's probably not a big deal for a giant like Apple to do such small services for free. But at the same time, being such a success could have possibly made them think that they don't need to care for such small details. I believe that it takes courage and dedication to do such small things and these simple and small things are the ones which give big rewards and make a difference between success and average, let alone failure.

All this is on top of the fact that the original product is the best. The mac as a product is surely unbeatable. Be it hardware, software, the presentation or the fine details, mac beats most others on each and every aspect.

So, probably the key to success is to build your craft, refine it day and night, pay attention to detail and most importantly, stay humble.

As usual, comments/appreciation/criticism (a constructive one of course) everything is most welcome and appreciated.

Until then,
Happy Learning!
Banyan Bat

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