Thursday, May 29, 2008

the big apple

I've used my share of "customer care" services from various industries. And I've had my share of run-ins with service staff who believe that pushing their own agenda is more important that listening to the customer. And I've written my fair share of "I will never buy another product from you again" letters. Needless to say, I'm a little weary anytime I have to deal with customer service.

A few weeks ago, my iPod Classic started to make squeaking noise. It was that "hard drive squeak is never a good sign" noise. Ugh. I could already feel my blood pressure rise at the thought of dealing with customer service. So, I asked some of my Apple-savvy co-workers what I should do. It turned out, coincidentally, that Apple had just opened it's only store in Vancouver. My co-workers suggested I go there to see if they could help.

I decided to make the trip one day after work. My iPod in hand, I was worried that I would be denied service because I didn't have the original receipt. Even though I had already been online and the Apple Web-site confirmed that I was still within the 1-year limited warranty, I was skeptical.

I walked into the new Apple store in the Pacific Centre and I was immediately greeted by 2 people - one wearing an orange shirt and another wearing a blue shirt. My first thought was "sales vultures". But it wasn't like that at all. The guy in the blue shirt explained the "shirt" system, different shirts for different service needs, and it made sense.

He went on, very congenially, to talk to me about my iPod troubles and quickly diagnosed that I needed help at the Genius Bar. I know, it's corny, but catchy (in a marketing way) at the same time. It turned out that I needed an appointment to get to the Genius Bar, but they were all booked for the rest of that evening. They suggested that I could wait for a bit and see if there were any short appointments or no shows. I figured that I wouldn't make it back downtown for a few days, so it would be worthwhile for me to wait.

Luckily, there were 2 consecutive no shows and I stepped up to the Genius Bar in less than 5 minutes. The guy at the Genius Bar, in a different coloured shirt from the first two, examined my iPod, heard the squeaking and with no hesitation, said they would replace my iPod. He double-checked my warranty and handed me the brand new one. A brand new, shiny, unscratched iPod. I was ecstatic! I was in the store for a total of 20 minutes. Now THAT'S what I call service. And I didn't even have their extended "Apple Care" warranty!

I was so impressed by this no-hassle service that I wanted to buy a laptop right then and there. Fortunately, I'm not THAT impulsive a buyer, so I resisted the urge. But you can bet that my next machine will be an Apple. Let that be a testament to the power of great customer service!

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