First impressions

A friend bought an Apple PowerBook, largely on my recommendation. He opened the box and found beautiful packaging... and a dead computer. He spent four hours on the phone with technical support before they decided it was indeed broken. Four hours!

As one might expect, my friend is, shall we say, annoyed.

(In a similar story, I bought a Sony VAIO and had to wait 13 weeks for a repair. THIRTEEN WEEKS!! TEN WEEKS plus THREE MORE WEEKS. Will I ever buy another Sony VAIO. Never! Yet I have friends who are extremely pleased with their VAIOs. I'm guessing they never called for a repair.)

My friend's first Apple experience has been a disaster. He has made a huge decision to change from Windows to Mac, and this is the thanks he gets? How many people will he tell? How long will it be before he forgets? That first experience is so incredibly important! We should make sure that the first experience is WONDERFUL!

Well, here’s what should have happened. On calling the tech support line, he should have been asked his customer number. Because that number is less than 30 days old, he should go to a special line for first time customers. The tech support rep should have set a timer for 15 minutes. At the 15-minute mark, he should have said, “Mr Scott, I’m going to send you a replacement for arrival tomorrow. When you get the new machine, put this broken one in the shipping box and return it to me. Thanks for buying an Apple product and I apologize for this problem.”

Apple does so many things right but what David will remember is his first experience. He’s wondering if he’s made a mistake and should buy a Dell instead. His new machine better set up immediately; it better convert his Windows files without any major problems; it better be the “better” computer that he’s been promised.

Or he’ll tell. He'll tell everybody.

Have you been thinking about customer service as part of your product marketing?

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.


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