Should we all take a bite of the Apple?

Pete Blackshaw who did a webinar with Cincom has a lot to say about customer experience and customer interaction. His article in Ad Age about how Apple is again setting a high bar for those companies who continue with "business as usual" and who simply do not get or refuse to acknowledge the fact that the customer is in charge of their business (not those who run the company). Change or die.

View the On Demand version of the Blackshaw Webinar: Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000: Running a Business in Today’s Consumer-Driven World on June 30 at 11 am EST.

First, it goes without saying that Apple is redefining and reshaping the retail experience via the company’s growing roster of stand-alone stores. But there’s something even bigger going on here, akin to how online show retailer is turning the traditional rules of e-commerce upside down.

Things once considered the dark side of Apple, such as tech support, are on the verge of becoming strategic assets, with the Apple Store’s geek-stocked Genius Bar able to tackle just about any issue or concern your have. And the process of planning that interaction is more akin to scheduling a haircut or spa treatment than calling those inaccessible tech-support lines.

Whether explicitly acknowledged or not, there’s an unmistakable "service is marketing" mantra pervading every aspect of the Apple Store. And that’s something every brand, even those not as shiny as Apple’s, can learn from. The opportunity to solve problems, find solutions and even address "the darn thing doesn’t work" emotional pain-points all lead to a higher impact-marketing and sales proposition. While not every marketer has a Steve Jobs-inspired vision, every consumer-facing company has problems that can be converted into opportunities to inspire loyalty.

Apple is introducing some important new lessons and questions for marketers:

Service is marketing. As marketers struggle to "engage" consumers, service may well be the easiest and most gratifying starting point — and one with high sales conversion potential.

Problems are opportunities. Tech support is an emotional experience — so why not capitalize on that insight by openly and enthusiastically solving problems, giving reassurance and showing compassion for the pain and frustration. A satisfied consumer might just buy something else while making the trip.

Employee authority and passion aids selling. When employees "walk the talk" in using the product they sell, credibility goes up — and credibility drives persuasion. Passion and evangelism also move the needle.


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