business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from MNB user Craig Espelien:

I usually do not say much about poor customer service, but I had my first (hopefully not last) experience in an Apple store today – and I would have thought I was at some other electronics store.

To be fair, my expectations were pretty high.  I have been in multiple stores, never with the intent to buy anything, but have NEVER had anyone even come up and engage me.  Did not mind – as I was not in the market to buy.

Based on the great write ups, experience our friends have had and your enthusiasm, I am now ready to take the plunge back into Apple products (had a couple of Macs years ago) to replace aging computers and to replace my BlackBerry Storm.  I went into the Mall of America store today – and it was a pretty sorry experience.  I spent about 15 minutes looking a MacBook Pros, doing some comparisons, looking a iMacs (again doing some comparisons) and was never engaged by any of the somewhat sketchy associates (lots of bad haircuts, sloppy dress and overall slacker vibe) before approaching the goof at the front of the store who was much more engaged with his iPad than with helping people.  Instead of helping me, he went to an iPad on the front table and indicated to the cloud that someone needed help.  After about 10 minutes of standing and waiting (and watching five people walk in and get helped while I stood there like an idiot) I left – and told the goof in front that it was a pretty bad display of service.

I will probably go back – but to another store – and will be letting Apple know that they are VERY close to creating whatever the opposite is of a raving fan.  I am a 50+ non-techy who is pretty understanding of how to navigate technology (up to a point) and I can tell you that the folks that Apple employed at this store certainly turned me off – with their attitude and with their lack of focus on me.

Thought you might like a counter point to the wonder that is Apple – but they should be embarrassed about this one.

They should be. I suspect they are.

We have some Apple folks who read MNB, so I suspect that they’re mortified at the moment. But I recommend that you be loud and persistent with your complaints to Cupertino.

I’ve never had that kind of bad experience, but I am appalled by what happened to you.

Here’s the big lesson. This kind of thing can happen to even the most progressive, most highly vaunted retailer - you are only as good as the last customer experience, only as good as the people on the front lines are.

One thing - I do get what you are saying about the slacker vibe. Depending on the market (the Apple Store in Seattle may be the biggest example of this), the haircuts, clothing, tattoos, and piercings can be a little off-putting to those of us who are a little more traditional in our accoutrements. But I’ve learned to get past that - these folks know a lot more about tech stuff than I do, and I’ve decided that since they don’t seem to be judging me, I’m not going to judge them.

Another report from the field from MNB user Adam Dill:

Following your suggestion 5 years ago, we joined Amazon Prime.  We mainly used it for Christmas and Birthday present shopping to save on shipping.  In reviewing our 2011 spending (something my wife just loves when I do), I noticed that our annual “household category” spending at Amazon has passed up our spending at Target.  I pulled out my files from 5 years ago and although our total spending has only increased slightly, we have moved from 100% spending at Target to almost 60% at Amazon.  This might explains why my local Target Manager has stopped talking to me and why I have to give my UPS driver a larger tip each Christmas.  As my wife and I talked about it, we both felt that we have not lost any selection and have most likely saved time by shifting our orders to Amazon.  It also made us wonder how much longer Amazon can offer the Prime membership for only $79…with an average order costing $5 to ship, they have had to have a negative 8.75 ROI on our household.

And although I am not a teenager, I have found myself using the Amazon PriceCheck app while shopping and ordering many things from Amazon as I am standing in a retail store.  I was at Best Buy over the holidays doing it when one of their employees caught me…he matched the Amazon price and then got the manager to add an additional 5% off.  Feels like the online competition is a win for me.

Me, too.

Attention must be paid.
KC's View: