Apple, Sprint, AT&T, and Going to the Dark Side

Part one of this story: Sprint puts on a clinic on how NOT to do customer service. See how the treated one of their customers and look what happened. He dumped sprint, got and got an Apple iPhone. Oh, and he wrote the following piece, which got sent to his one million readers.

Part two: Apple puts on a clinic on how TO do customer service. More Harvard case study material.

It’s a case study on customer service and word-of-mouth marketing — and its opposite, of which this is a crystal clear example. A lot can be learned from both Sprint and Apple here. And for startups, it’s critical to build a user-focused culture from the get go. The customer is everything. The user experience is everything. Period!

2008-2-29
Apple, Sprint, AT&T, and Going to the Dark Side
By John Mauldin

I have been a Sprint customer for at least ten years, I think. They are losing customers at a very serious rate. Some two million are expected to leave this quarter. I am one of them.

My new Treo phone stopped working. It is only a few months old. I gave it to my assistant to take to Sprint and get it exchanged, as I have insurance on it, which I pay $5 a month for. Also, Sprint has the worst customer service. It can take hours to get through the lines at their nearest store, and you can be on hold for a long time on the phone, so I let my assistant deal with them. After waiting forever in line, she got to the desk and explained the problem. They took the phone and came back and said they would not replace it as I must have dropped it in some water, since it was corroded on the inside. They are not responsible if I drop it in the water. She had to get out of line and call me.

I told her I had not dropped it in the water and I wanted a new one like the contract said. I spend almost $5,000 a year with Sprint, and I wanted them to honor that contract. She once again had to get in line, waiting for an hour to get to another clerk, who told her he could not do anything, but we could call customer service. After she endured yet another conversation and waited another hour, I told her to come on back to the office.

I called my friend who is an expert in the cell phone business, and he said AT&T was the best. I got in the car with my daughter, we drove five minutes to an AT&T store, and in an hour I had a new iPhone from Apple, at a lot less per month than Sprint. No waiting in line. Very friendly and knowledgeable service.

Tiffani has bought a new Apple Macbook Air. It is amazingly thin and light, with a full keyboard and lots of cool features. She loves it. I liked the look, but did not want to spend the time learning a new system. I have always teased people who use Macs as being members of a cult.

Then I started using the iPhone. I am simply blown away. I love this thing. Yes, there are some features I wish they had, but not major ones, and I bet the next versions will have them in a year or so.

So, I let Tiffani persuade me to go to the Apple store near my home. We actually set up a private 30-minute appointment online with a sales representative. When we met, he carried a sign that said we were in a private meeting. I was blown away by the MacBook Air. I am going to get one before my next trip. It will reduce my carry-on weight by 4 pounds or so.

And for $99, they will let me come in one hour a week for a whole year for one-on-one personalized tutoring on any program or aspect of anything Apple makes. Any question I want.

It is likely that when we move next, we are going to convert the office to Apple. I can run my Microsoft software but not have to deal with viruses and garbage.

I wonder how many people like me are going to get an iPhone and start to think about other Apple products. And love the service?

Memo to Sprint board: steal someone from Apple to come run customer service. Or watch your customer base continue to erode.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button AddThis Feed Button
Subscribe to this blog via RSS or email.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: