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Apple has a customer satisfaction rating that is the envy of plenty of companies: 90 percent of its customers are very satisfied with its customer service. But Apple also realizes that 10 percent of them are dissatisfied, and it has discovered that most of its customer service failures occur because of confusion about product warranties.

A customer with a broken Apple product needs to read the fine print to find the exceptions not covered by the warranty. For example, water damage or abuse voids the product warranty, but Apple defines this phrase quite broadly. To be subject to water damage or abuse, a product does not have to be dropped in water; it might just suffer a drop of water, falling from the headphones, traveling down the cord, and entering into the jack. This situation infuriates customers, many of whom treat their Apple products with great care.

To eliminate confusion about the warranty protocol and offer better customer service, Apple might consider complementary service for its products, rather than its current practice, in which customers can purchase Apple Care (e.g., $170 for a Mac) to avoid individual charges for customer service phone calls or face-to-face service. Considering the premium prices that Apple charges though, many customers assert that they will not pay for the extra expense associated with the Apple Care warranty.

Yet despite these concerns, Apple’s customer service remains significantly better than that of other computer companies, for which approximately 25 percent of customers express dissatisfaction. If Apple really wants to continue to excel and please customers, it needs to go the extra 10 percent.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are the problems with Apple’s customer service?
  2. Is it worth it for Apple to try to please the remaining 10 percent of customers, or is a 90 percent customer satisfaction rating good enough?

Erika Murphy, “The Bright Spots and Sore Spots of Apple Customer Service,” Technewsworld.org, July 28, 2009.