Customer Experience Featured Article

Apple May Need to Improve Customer Service to Compete with Microsoft

February 20, 2015

In perhaps one of the most peculiar customer service experience phenomena of our time, retail storefronts staffed with hip, engaged and savvy personnel are the becoming the preferred way to purchase end user computing and services. We’re not talking about CompUSA style superstores (the giant chain of consumer electronics warehouses that reached their peak back in the 1990s), but boutique spaces intimately tied to their brand.

Apple brought this trend into fashion with its vast collection of spacious stores and Genius (News - Alert) Bars, offering personalized service and a comfortable hangout space to try out new gadgets. But just as Apple has faced unrelenting competition in the consumer electronics space since reaching its apex, it is now facing pressure on the customer experience front as well.

Microsoft (News - Alert) has been busy opening stores across North America over the past few years, many of them strategically located near Apple Stores. And Microsoft isn’t just emulating Apple’s (News - Alert) retail and hip customer service practices; it’s trying to go beyond with even better and more customized service. Microsoft understands that branding is only as strong a customer’s service experience, a hard-learned lesson for Redmond as it has completely changed its business model over the years.

And now Microsoft is trying to offer a better overall customer experience, at the same time as Apple has become comfortable and slacked off in this department. Have you ever noticed how crowded your local Apple Store is? According to some customers, service quality has been on the decline for a while now and Apple doesn’t seem to be particularly motivated to change that.

Microsoft isn’t the only competitor trying to up the customer experience ante to challenge Apple. Lenovo is also considering bringing its store model, which has served the company well in China, to North America. It has also long been rumored that Google (News - Alert) would get into the retail business in the U.S., with supposed plans for a retail space in New York City’s SoHo area that never came to fruition last year. The company does maintain Androidland stores in Australia, Indonesia and India.

What all this means for Apple remains to be seen, but according to a recent article in CMO magazine, the company is simply not delivering the same level of customer service it once did, leaving customers throughout the world somewhat dissatisfied. In the U.K., for instance, the company fell from first to 13th place in a survey of favorite retailers, just over the course of a year. Customer Service Scoreboard also ranks Apple’s customer service and support as “disappointing.” It may be time for Apple to rethink its customer service practices and strategy before competitors beat the company at its own game. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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