Customer service is referred to as the overall activity in identifying customer needs and satisfying customers in terms of such needs (“Operations Theory” par. 1). It plays an important role in the profitability of a business. The quality of products and services is directly related to the satisfaction level of customers.
When customers are satisfied with the products and services offered by a firm, customer loyalty is born. Profitability comes from such because customers are willing to pay for good quality products and services. This paper aims to better understand the relationship between customer service and customer satisfaction. I have chosen Apple Inc. to be the subject of evaluation in this paper.
In the highly competitive and innovative world of the IT industry, the value of customer service can be seen in the after sales support companies provide their clients.
Among its competitors, the products of Apple Inc. have been the most expensive with the resistance of the company to release low-end product lines. Satisfied customer and blogger Jon Buys defended Apple’s positioning of expensive product lines by pointing out the quality customers enjoy when buying Apple products.
“It’s not that Apple doesn’t have an interest in the low-budget market, it’s that Apple refuses to create a product that doesn’t live up to their expectations of what a Mac should be” (Buys).
Unlike its competitors that market products’ functionality and specifications, Apple’s marketing strategies involve promoting their computers and gadgets in terms of the Apple experience customers will receive when choosing the company’s products. This experience is “something that encompasses every part of owning an Apple product” (Buys).
The company ensures customers that by owning their products; customers havethe best products in the market with top of the line quality and superior customer service and support. The Mac experience is known to be something different and is more than just owning a PC. Apple’s commitment to quality is evident with its latest gadgets namely the iPad and iPhone.
The iPhone for example was praised by John Gruber despite it being more expensive compared to its competitors from brands such as Nokia, Samsung, HTC, and Black Berry.
“There is no better phone, at any price” (Gruber). Apple is different from its competitors namely Lenovo, Dell, HP, Acer and/ or Asus because most of the said brands have the same basic components, run on the same software, and are powered by only one company, Microsoft. Apple products on the other hand have precision engineered products and run on Mac OS which was developed by the company themselves.
Throughout the years, Apple has developed a legion of loyal customers with its somewhat radical innovations and campaigns. Most believe that the company provides a breath of fresh air from the typical PC most brands in the market provide. The continuous innovation of the company has led to its capture of the music industry with the creation of iTunes and the Apple Store.
The birth of gadgets such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad has revolutionized the electronics and communications industry where everything is now functioning on wireless internet. The proliferation of touch screen technologies was due to Apple’s revolutionary innovation of creating products without the use of traditional keyboards and keypads. Apple’s technical support department, Apple Care, provides excellent support.
The customer service attendants and engineers are willing to repair customers’ Mac computers, provide sufficient answers to customers’ inquiries regarding hardware and software problems and immediately change defective parts.
Apple Care is also easily reachable via phone or the internet around the world. The customer service attendants of the company can easily walk customers through from setting up their Macs to troubleshooting at the comforts of their home.
“Apple’s stigma cannot be explained by generous return policies or coverage. Both Dell andHP offer more lenient return policies, each allowing 21 days to return the product compared with Apple’s 14 days. HP and Dell also offer accidental damage protection, something lacking from the otherwise excellent AppleCare“(Buys)
Buying a Mac or any product from Apple is more expensive than getting a regular PC by Dell, an MP3 player from Sony or a phone from Nokia but the company was able to pull through because of the superior quality of the products they provide and the top of the line after sales support customers receive. Once an individual purchases a certain product of the company, they are welcomed into a club of exclusivity.
For a high price in availing products of Apple Inc. customers can upgrade their entire experience rather than just upgrading their computers and gadgets. In terms of buying a computer, Apple has cited several reasons why it is beneficial to get a Mac over a regular PC (“Why you’ll love a Mac”). Below are the reasons cited by the company:
- It’s designed to be a better computer.
- It goes with software you’ll definitely enjoy using.
- It comes with the OS which is considered to be the most advanced one.
- It comes with “award-winning support”.
- It runs Office as well as works with PC files.
- It’s “compatible with your stuff”.
- It doesn’t get PC viruses.
- It has the latest technology incorporated.
- It runs Windows and Windows applications.
Customers expect to receive all the following advantages and benefits Apple declares in promoting their products. The most crucial claim in the following privileges stated in the company’s official website is their award-winning support system.
Every claim stated in their website is considered tangible except for the quality of their after sales services. Apple’s award-winning support includes the moving of files from the customers’ old PC to their new Mac computers by specialists.
By purchasing a One to One membership, customers can avail a year’s worth of one-on-one training sessions with a specialist to help them get a head start with his computer (“Why you’ll love a Mac”). Contacting Apple’s technical support team has been made convenient for customers because an Apple specialist can be reached via phone, live chat or in person at an authorized Apple retail store.
In any Apple retail store, a Genius Bar is present to accommodate customers on their technical questions about their Mac. The place gives out free advice and insights to customers who wish to troubleshoot their Macs and improve their computers’ performances. Appointments at the Genius Bar can be scheduled online at the convenience of the customers’ homes.
Apple’s technical support team also conducts complementary workshops where first time Mac users are taught by experts. Beginners learn the basics of operating Mac computers at the same time discover how applications work. Experts also provide tips and tricks to workshop attendees who make their Mac experiences enjoyable and worthwhile. Customers can also learn about operating their Mac computers online by watching video tutorials via iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, Mac OS X and/ or via the internet(“Why you’ll love a Mac”).
Apple Inc. is one of the leading technological American multinational companies founded by three college drop outs in the summer of 1976. The company was formerly known as Apple Computer Inc.
It designs and markets personal computers, consumer electronics and software with its popular product lines include the Macintosh personal computers, MP3 players called the iPod, iPhone mobile phone device and its recently launched tablet line, iPad. Apple Inc. software line include the Mac OS X for personal computers’ operating systems, iTunes which is a media browser that enables users to download, listen and transfer music files, iLife suite for multimedia and creative works, iWork suite for office work functions, Aperture for professional photographers who wish to edit and manipulate their photos, Final Cut Studio suite for people who are involved in the professional audio and film industry, Logic Studio suite for music production enthusiasts, the Safari web browser for surfing experience and iOS as the iPhone’s operating system.
Apple Inc. operates over 357 retail stores worldwide as of October 2011 in 10 countries (“Apple Store”). The company has also developed an online store where products and services can be bought at the convenience of the customers (“Apple Store”).
In September 2011, Poornima Gupta and Rodrigo Campos cited that Apple Inc. has become the largest publicly traded company in the world by market capitalization (Poornima and Campos). Its market value as of August 9, 2011 is $341.5 billion (Poornima and Campos).
Apple Inc. was founded on April 1, 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve, Wozniak and Ronald Wayne. The company’s headquarters is based on Cupertino, California.
It was incorporated on January 3, 1977. On January 9, 2007 (US SEC) after 30 years of being known as Apple Computer Inc. the company decided to remove “Computer” to be in line with the company’s expansion strategy in the electronics market in addition to its primary focus on the personal computers industry (Markoff).
According to the United States Security and Exchange commission “As of September 25, 2010, the Company had approximately 46,600 full-time equivalent employees and an additional 2,800 full-time equivalent temporary employees and contractors and annual sales worldwide is $65.23 billion” (US SEC).
Over the years Apple has developed an exceptional reputation in the consumer electronics and mobile technology industry due to its broad artistic design philosophy and unique advertising campaigns.
The company has established a devoted and loyal customer based especially in the United States which patronizes the company and its brand (macnn.com). Among the numerous achievements of Apple Inc. is being named the most admired company from years 2008 – 2011 and was branded as the most valuable public limited company by Fortune magazine (Fisher 65-67).
Apple Inc.’s product strategy for the past years has always involved the creation of innovative products and services which complement its digital hub strategy.
In the said method, Apple’s Macintosh products serve as digital hubs for other electronic devices such as the iPod, iPad, personal digital assistants, mobile devices, digital cameras, and video cameras to name a few. The main focus of Apple Inc.’s product strategy is the customers’ experiences with Apple products.
The company’s main competency and advantage among other companies in the industry is its ability to deliver outstanding experience to its customers through excellent user interfaces. Apple based its product strategy with the said competence they possess through its products such as iTunes, iPhone, and the Apple Apps store.
Apple focuses on the emotions and feelings of its past, present and future customers in marketing the brand. Its brand personality is all about the lifestyle it may provide to its prospects. Apple’s brand personality revolves around the notion of being imaginative, free, innovative, passionate, as well as the one having hope, dreams, passion and aspirations. The brand’s general theme is about people attaining power through technology.
“The Apple brand personality is also about simplicity and the removal of complexity from people’s lives; people-driven product design; and about being a really humanistic company with a heartfelt connection with its customers” (“Apple’s Brand Strategy”).
Apple’s primary marketing strategy is not about selling products but the provision of exclusivity among its customers. There is a sense of community among Apple users who remain loyal to the brand. The brand equity and customer franchise exemplified by the company is very strong.
Its strong customer based has been essential to the company’s success over the past decades especially during the economic crisis of the 90s and it has also helped the company maintain its premium pricing compared to its competitors. Apple’s pricing strategy on its products has enabled it to survive against the low prices brought about by other IT competitors.
The Apple brand is centralized on its promise of providing the best customer experience and satisfaction through its products and technology. In order to have more control of the brand’s image together with its product distribution and services, Apple has opened its own Apple Stores in strategic locations such as in high end malls and quality shopping venues to cater to the needs of its customers.
“Apple provides Apple Mac-expert retail floor staff to selected resellers’ stores (such as Australian department store David Jones); it has entered into strategic alliances with other companies to co-brand or distribute Apple’s products and services (for example, HP who was selling a co-branded form of iPod and pre-loading iTunes onto consumer PCs and laptops though in retrospect this may now just have been a stepping-stone).
Apple has also increased the accessibility of iPods through various resellers that do not currently carry Apple Macintosh systems (such as Harvey Norman), and has increased the reach of its online stores” (“Apple’s Brand Strategy”).
Apple Inc. has built a powerful brand with a cult of loyal followers admiring products produced by the company. The company has thrived and managed its way in becoming one of the top companies today. The company’s success lies in its powerful technical service support which was able to win customers’ loyalty. Apple promotes its company through creative branding and backs it up with a powerful support for customers.
This support can be seen through their experience walking through retail shops where customers are greeted enthusiastically with respect, prompt and accessible answers are given to their inquiries and programs are also offered to customers where they can further maximize their Mac computing experiences.
Apple should continuously provide advanced product lines and should further improve their customer service supports by providing prompt responses to customer inquiries and problems. Customers are always willing to pay for value. The company’s job is to make sure that customers feel their moneys’ worth when purchasing Apple products in order for the company to grow the number of their loyal customers.
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Markoff, John. New Mobile Phone Signals Apple’s Ambition. 2007. Web.
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Poornima, Gupta and Campos, Rodrigo. Apple Inc. briefly edged past Exxon Mobil Corp to become the most valuable U.S company on Tuesday, displacing an old economy stalwart and heralding an era where technology holds sway. 2011. Web.
US SEC. Form 8-K SEC Filing.United States Security and Exchange Commission. 10 January 2007. Print.
Why You’ll Love a Mac 2012. Web.