Setting Expectations Low, Then Beating Them

I have so many things I’d like to blog about but just have not had the time.  More coming, soon.  But this one had to find it’s way to paper.

This weekend I was in Phoenix for a dear friend’s 50th birthday.  The good news about the weekend – memorable times with old friends, much reminiscing, all mixed with warm weather including a ride on my friend’s hot-rod Harley.  Brilliant.  The bad news – my laptop arrived DOA (dead on arrival).  It had been acting a bit quirky, was three + years old, and when I booted it up to work some Sunday morning the monitor was all black screen of death.  Bummer.

I immediately called Apple to make a Genius Bar appointment for as early as possible Monday morning in Columbus.  More good news / bad news.  I was immediately able to get through to a real Apple rep who reserved a service slot just after they opened at 11:15 AM.  Bad news was my extended customer care contract that I purchased when I bought the lap time had expired, you guessed it, 3 weeks ago.  All repairs would be on my nickel.

I arrived Monday morning on time, checked in, and the Apple rep got down to troubleshooting.  Using some diagnostic gear they were quickly able to tell that the $900 video card / motherboard was bad and needed to be replaced.  For reasons unknown to me they decided to cover all costs of the repair (I didn’t even have to ask).  The Apple rep then told me that repair time was up to 12 days, but he was hopeful he could have it done on Wednesday in three days.  Check in, diagnosis, and repair plan was competed in 20 minutes.  I then headed home to attempt to cobble together a work environment satisfactory for 3 days without my laptop.

But more good news was coming my way.  I received a call Monday evening at 5:00 PM (the same day) that the machine was fixed and ready for pick up.  I am writing this post on the repaired machine late Monday evening.

So, let’s sum all this up:

  • Machine breaks on Sunday in Phoenix,
  • Appointment booked on Monday in Columbus for diagnosis and troubleshooting.  Check in is precise, on time, and takes 20 minutes.
  • Machine is out of warranty, but a very expensive repair is covered anyway, and I didn’t even have to beg Apple to cover it.
  • Repairs are promised in 3 – 12 days, but are actually completed in 6 hours.

This experience just encapsulates the beauty of the Mac / Apple experience and premium product / service business strategy:

  • Charge a premium for your products, never put anything on sale.  But use some of the premium to over-achieve in customer experience specifically product elegance  and customer service,
  • Make really great stuff that just works because of the seamless hardware / software integration,
  • Provide great customer service via phone, and
  • Deliver that customer service, including most repairs, on premise at well staffed, welcoming stores.

It’s a classic high-end product business strategy.  In my opinion, it’s working, and is worth it.

I welcome your comments.
Mike Brannan