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This isn’t another Steve Jobs tribute post. The man was great, and the world is showing that. This is, rather, a reflection on why, in my opinion, Mac people are so rabid about their products. It’s a reason Steve Jobs knew all so well, and worked to achieve every day. It’s also a spectacular lesson for small and mld-size businesses out there, something we can all strive to achieve.
Simply put, if you look at Macintosh users as customers, (which they are) then the product Apple creates is the customer service within the equation. Yes, there’s customer service at the Apple stores, or online at apple.com, but that’s (usually) a one-time thing. For the majority of us, customer service truly begins the first time we press that button and hear the beautiful C Major chord. It simply works. (And I’m not going to get into a semantics argument that it’s user interface or similar. Fact is, the product works to serve the customer the way they want it, thus, the customer service of Apple becomes the machine itself, whether it be an iPhone or a Macbook Air or an iPad.)
When my MacBook Air turns on, it becomes an extension of myself. It does so not in an overbearing or annoying way, but in such a way that I hardly know it’s there. It does what I tell it, when I tell it, and how I tell it. And on the rare occasions where it doesn’t, it usually takes just a reboot to make everything all right again.
This defies what we as customers expect (or usually receive) on a daily basis. Example:
This morning, I had to make a 6am Amtrak train from Penn Station to DC. I arrived at Penn Station at 5:40am, knowing that I had 20 minutes to print out my ticket from a kiosk and leisurely board the train.
But naturally, every single kiosk was down. (They all ran Windows, by the way, but that’s not the point.)
There was a 25-person line at the counter, and two people working it. 6:45, 6:50, 6:55… At 6:58, I get called up, and show my license. The man prints out my ticket, (with no great urgency) and I sprint to the other side of Penn Station to make my train. I make it with ten seconds to spare, and flop down into my seat, sweaty, out of breath, and pissed off.
Sadly, that’s the kind of experience we come to expect as customers, whether it be with the transportation we take, or the machines on which we compute. That’s why my Macintosh is so refreshing. When I open the lid, I simply KNOW it will work.
Can you imagine ever having that kind of trust in an airline? Or Amtrak? Or a fast food restaurant, or a car dealership?It’s beyond rare, to say the least. If you follow me on Twitter, you know the issues I’ve been having with my Verizon Wireless MiFi card for over a month now.
Some say the faith that Apple users put into the products they use defies all known types of customer experience known to man. I say it’s simply customers reacting to amazing customer service, and showing their passion and gratitude for it. Passionate customer service will always generate passionate response. Do you have the same level of passion for your customers that Apple does in theirs? Do you have fans? Or simply customers?
Create such amazing products and services within your company that your customers become fans, and offer their trust and faith in you.
Because once you have a customer’s trust and faith, the rest becomes easy.
Rest in Peace, Steve. Thank you for understanding that.