Apple creates for my taste, beautifully designed products (well except for the magic mouse), their products generally provide to the customer a great user experience. The company brags about their high level of customer satisfaction in every event. As As a passionate for tech, I am looking froward for these events, were I generally open a bottle of wine and enjoy the show.
But when you have to reach to Apple support because their products are not working as expected, and they need to exchange them to provide a definitive solution, things get quite messy. My thinking is; when you want to sell top of the line products, and you are charging a premium price for them, if a customer has an issue with one of your products, please change it immediately or expedite the support process.
On this post I want to share some personal experiences with the Apple Support services. While maybe the results end up being good because I end up receiving a replacement unit, they mostly take a lot of time and as I customer I also end up spending a lot of time in the process. This is where I strongly believe the experience can be greatly improved.
I always argue with a friend about he having several Apple products and not ever having issues with them, thats why this post is about my and only my personal experience with Apple products.
The MacBook Pro 15″ experience
I purchased a beautiful MacBook Pro 15″ 2017. It was a great machine, and very powerful. But when I started using it closed and on a vertical stand as a desktop computer (with an external screen, keyboard and mouse) a horrible noise was coming out from the laptop. I had to go multiple times to the Apple Store in Zurich, which is around 40 minutes away from the town I live in Switzerland. I had to spend multiple hours at their branch, waiting for them to check it. At some point the manager of the store told me they have to receive and check-in the computer at least 4 times to be able to consider an exchange (according to their internal processes). This is when things do not make any sense. One of my jobs at the time was being in charge of the Global Service Desk of a global company. I knew that the Apple internal ITSM process which was telling the manager he could not change a laptop that was failing, was simply wrong. At some point he even told me “the laptop has not been designed to work vertically“, I honestly couldn’t believe the BS I was receiving. I paid USD 3000 for this laptop, as a customer, I shouldn’t be bothered this way, my time should be respected and the idea of receiving this level of support was frustrating me.
I heard some stories of people writing an email to Tim Cook, so as a last resort I tried this, explaining the situation. A week later I received a call from the manager of the store telling me I can go and pick up a replacement unit. It worked! Yeah, great anecdote to tell my friends, but honestly I shouldn’t have had to gone through all this after the premium price I paid.
Then all the issues with the keyboards on this generation of laptops started to popup, so I decided to sell the unit and prevent more future headaches.
Also it was very annoying the way Finder worked with my Synology NAS, hyper slow compared to a virtual Windows 10 machine running from within the same MacBook Pro.
The Apple Watch 3 experience
I went to the Apple Store in Zurich after registering for an appointment on their website. I showed the problem to the support representative, the battery of my watch was a bit swollen, and this made the front glass to pop-out of the watch case.
I was talking with the representative and I had to carefully check what he was writing as an internal report, because he didn’t want to say the battery was swollen. I knew that if he wouldn’t have written that the battery actually was swollen, then I would probably would get an email from Apple saying the reparation of the watch would have a cost and wouldn’t be covered by their warranty. This wouldn’t have been fair, fortunately all went smooth, and I received the replacement unit by mail.
The AirPods 2 experience
This was the last and more recent time I contacted Apple Support, the Airpods 2 where constantly failing, they were not pairing with my iPhone, nor with my iPad. After chatting and providing multiple evidences of the actions I took with Twitter Apple Support, they organized a call back appointment. On the scheduled day, I received the call from Apple Support (automated system), and I was on hold for more than 30 minutes, nobody ever picked up the phone on their side. One hour later, I received another call from them, this time finally talking with a representative. Going again through all the same troubleshooting, 45 minutes on the phone. Finally the agent decided to exchange my Airpods, he told me he was going to send a new unit, but I needed to send the old failing ones back. I accepted of course, and they pre-charged my credit card until I returned the failing Airpods to them, I would have to do this only when I received the replacement unit.
To my surprise, what I received was individual Airpods, (left and right) and not a whole new set of Airpods 2.
I place them on the old case and they worked for a while, but now they stopped working and I get a green blinking light. I think that if they would have sent a full new set (with the charging case) this issues that I am having again probably wouldn’t have occurred. So I find myself again, feeling frustrated, that my wife cannot use her Airpods 2 because something is going on with them and they dont work anymore. What was Apple trying to do here? Save the cost of a charging case? Really? They probably spent more money on the UPS shipping bags and recollection service than what the case would have costed. And now I need to contact them again.
The AirPods Pro experience
I bought the Airpods Pro and left the above Airpods 2 to my wife, overall they are OK, they hurt a bit compared to the Airpods 1 or 2 to be honest, but they need to create the sealing effect for the noise cancellation so its understandable that the fitting is different. I did started to notice that sometimes I hear a crackling or popping noise when playing any source of audio. For example a YouTube video or a Spotify song. I am checking how often this issue occurs and if it constantly repeats I will contact Apple support, again. On the meantime I hope they get it right with a software update or something.
Iphones and iPads
I did have some issues with some iPhones, but the support process was a bit more straight forward. With all the iPads I had till now, I never had an issue. So in general, I am quite happy with the iPhone and iPad support experience. To the time writing this post I am using an iPhone 11 Pro and an iPad Pro 11″ as my daily drivers and without issues.
Place for improvement
I believe Apple designs beautiful products, and in a lot of aspects they sometimes seem to be a bit delayed on functionalities for example on iPhones. I think this happens because they want to ensure the specs that are adding to the latest products, are properly tested and are not going to backfire. I like this, because this focuses on preventing issues to their customers.
As every big company, some parts of the organization probably wont work the same way. For instance, why did they allowed 3 generations of MacBook Pro laptops with the same type of issues on their keyboards. And why didn’t they fix them before? Who knows, probably related to costs? From one of the most resourceful companies in the world, I would expect better to be honest.
Maybe more focus on quality checks, and listening more to what the customers are saying in the sense of feedback would be the solution. I think they realized that sharing units with YouTubers for honest reviews is helpful and doing so can prevent them from more headaches in the future, so a change seems to be slowly going on.
I do recognize that their Twitter Support account @AppleSupport offers very good consistent feedback if you have issues, so if you haven’t tried this channel, give it a try.
If you have people who have been purchasing your products since many years, offer them a good level of response. Just change the product and let them have a great support experience and the feeling that their time and customer loyalty is being appreciated. Then internally you can trigger whatever process you think you need to do to review the returned units, re purpose materials, etc.
The customer experience
I am a fierce believer experience is everything. From online services, to going to shops, some customers (like me) become brand and product evangelists, and this translates into more sales and more experiences being delivered.
Some companies really dont understand this, and they even think its OK not to provide an easy way for their customers to contact them for help, they are wrong.
Experiences start from the moment your potential customer is looking at your products, on a shop or on a website and goes through out the purchasing & delivery of those products or services, but it doesn’t end there. The way you enable your customers to reach out to you after you sold them something, is as important as your selling experience.
I would say sales & purchasing is around 15% of the experience, the product or service usability is 70% and the other 15% is what you do or how you treat your customers after you sold them something, so basically, how do you support your customers and your products. But these percentages may vary, and a bad experience may override a big part of the great experiences your product may have delivered. The same would happen if you deliver great customer support, but your product or service experience its not strong enough.
Do you think experiences are important? Feel free to share your thoughts below.