No Rotten Apples Here?

by Tanner Godarzi Oct 19, 2007

A recent report has claimed that Apple has dropped in quality and their consumer image has been slightly tarnished. I am not defending Apple—no company is immune to bad customer service—but there is some FUD that needs to be cleared up.

You may have had your excellent experience with Apple, like getting a new iPod after your previous one broke, or even the downright ugly, like having an iMac with numerous hardware faults.

Now, to remind you, I am not defending Apple and flaming anyone who dare speaks against the cult of Apple, or attempting to convince everyone that Steve Jobs is a demigod. Like I said, no company is immune to having faulty customer experiences. I’m a huge believer that a problem will occur with any tech product; my faith in a company is established based on the following actions and responses in fixing my problem.

However, I’ve had my share of bad and good Apple experiences. I had my PowerBook’s Hard Drive replaced after it failed because it was chucked from a desk (not my fault, put those pitchforks down). I was not only denied a fix for my iPhone polka dot screen problem, but it was not even fixed after returning from Apple Care.

Business Week’s post about Apple’s growth affecting their quality of service seems interesting, but the article itself holds little merit. True, the only proof that Apple is slipping in the quality of their customer service is through a survey published that showed the company slipped from a score of 83 to 79.

Besides the survey, Business Week only takes a small sample of consumers that have had horrible experiences with the company’s products. I’m sorry, but I can’t hold much faith in this hardly credible article even if it was about any company. I’d like to see the day when a few consumers who are vocal enough can take down a large company.

Has Apple really faltered in the market? That’s a difficult question to answer, as there is no right way to truly compare a company amongst others. Even if Apple had a lower amount of repairs to make, or even higher, it wouldn’t be accurate to base a company’s reputation solely on that; even Apple’s, last I checked they had a very small (although rising) market share. The number of Macs needing repair wouldn’t approach that of Dell or any PC manufacturer.

But as Apple grows and takes on more markets, I’m confident they’ll retain a high level of customer service. Where others fail is in introducing too many products that require a higher level of support. Apple consolidates many products that, although different, can be serviced quickly, easily, and efficiently.


  • If a company experiences a sudden increase in their products, it is going to cause quality and customer-service problems. The reason is that hiring and training sales and support staff and ramping up production are relatively slow processes, so the only way to keep up with demand is to hurry. You can’t hurry without making mistakes. The company is faced with the dilemma that if they hurry hiring, production, and training, there will be quality problems, but if they lag too far behind demand, they will miss their chance at a larger market share.

    The question is not whether quality and customer service will suffer as Apple experiences rapid growth, because Apple is subject to the same laws of physics as any other company. The question is whether it will be temporary or permanent.

    Most companies find out that with higher sales volumes, they can get away with less, and the decrease in quality and customer satisfaction becomes permanent.

    Apple has a track record of being customer-oriented rather than sales-oriented, so I think that any problems will be temporary. I think we’ve already seen this with the Intel-based products.

    Hugmup had this to say on Oct 19, 2007 Posts: 40
  • Besides the survey, Business Week only takes a small sample of consumers that have had horrible experiences with the company’s products.

    Then how do you explain the original 83%?  The figures may or may not be accurate depending on methodology, but the issue here is the slippage.  And unless the 83% and 79% were derived using two different methodologies, then you’d have to explain why it’s okay to accept the 83% but not the 79%.

    If the methodology was the same, then it’s fair to report the drop.  But the article makes a point of the fact that Apple still tops the pack in customer service.  Is that really what you consider FUD?

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 20, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • I suspect the rapid rise in the number of Apple customers recently is playing a role here.  Apple has had a reputation for high quality and customer service for many years, so any new customer having a problem of any kind will probably be sorely disappointed.

    Expectations matter in how people rate a product or the company that produces it.  An issue that probably wouldn’t wouldn’t raise an eyebrow with a run-of-the-mill company jumps up and bites the company whose customers expect a much better experience.

    So, while I agree that the slippage noted in the survey is worth watching, I suspect that Apple’s recently increased customer base and their disappointment with unexpected issues is also having an impact.

    Dave Marsh had this to say on Oct 20, 2007 Posts: 44
  • The numbers come from a customer satisfaction survey of consumers.

    The words “customer satisfaction survey of consumers” should tell you enough. about how many grains of salt need be taken when examining the meaning behind the numbers.

    These numbers aren’t based on actual rates of returns on a product, or increase in calls to a call center, or other hard business metrics that would tell you if there’s actually a quality or customer service issue at Apple.

    This is from a survey of consumers… not actual numbers that would indicate there is any kind of real problem at Apple. It’s just analysts and columnists talking balogna because the biggest news they have to report on is 4% shift in customer satisfaction.

    It means almost nothing other than there was a slow news day.

    vb_baysider had this to say on Oct 22, 2007 Posts: 243
  • If it were a significantly larger shift than the probably margin of error, then there might be something to talk about.

    vb_baysider had this to say on Oct 22, 2007 Posts: 243
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