Bringing Back the Faithful

 

This week started on a bad note. My iMac went down on Monday and left me stranded. My first response was to call my local Apple store, but they don’t answer the phone. They book Genius Bar reservations via the Internet, they send you to "800" support, but they don’t talk to customers directly via phone — at least that I could find — and I just needed to ask some simple questions.

So, undaunted Apple evangelist that I am, I tried the Apple Care Line and not only was the wait longer than usual, they had no information to help me. In fact, they didn’t even have record of my local Apple Store.

Perplexed, and stunned I thought, "my gosh, I’m a raving fan of Apple and I’ve sold friends on this product. What is going on?"

In almost desperation (probably too strong a word, but you understand) I went to a third party Apple dealer in town. After explaining the computer’s problem the service person said eight magic words, "Well sir, we want you to be happy." She then said it would be 3 to 5 business days to repair, and much to my surprise, it took them 1 day. Needless to say, I’m out evangelizing Apple once again.

Outside this story of my personal experience there are some valuable lessons to learn:

1. Make sure your employees share your vision and passion. Too often companies have lofty tag lines or warm-fuzzy mission statements that don’t get translated to the sales floor. Obviously this service tech knew the mission and how to respond to a customer. She was well taught and the training was reinforced. I was able to watch her work with other customers and she treated them all with the same focus and desire to help "and make them happy".

2. Under promise and over deliver. I know it’s trite, but it works. They did the unexpected for me by delivering the repaired unit in one day instead of 3 or 5. This makes a huge difference in my opinion of their company. Raving fans need to see miracles and their unexpressed need to see the light of day. Every company that wants to be customer-centric needs to offer the unexpected.

3. Hire great people. It starts with your hiring decisions. Take the time to make the best-informed decisions you can make. Hire people who will love your customers and who have a desire to understand their heart.

4. Empower your people. Again, we all know this, but we need to do it. Give your people boundaries in which to work, then turn them loose to serve and satisfy your customers. If they know your vision, understand your passion and truly grasp knowing their customers, they will act out of their desire to serve and you will have delighted customers as a result.

Apple, I’m back as a raving fan because a local, third-party store understood the heart of the customer.

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Trust is the winsome wedding of faith and hope.

Brennan Manning

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