The Magic That is Apple

June 22nd, 2011 | Shonali Burke | 58 Comments

I was all tapped out yesterday.

Monday was a hectic day, yesterday we had a really energetic #measurePR Twitter chat with Megan Berry of Klout (can’t wait for that recap, can you?), I had 16 papers to grade, my husband’s birthday is coming up, followed a week later by our wedding anniversary… so much going on, to do/plan/prepare for… aargh!

And then it happened. My iPad – which I ordered a couple of weeks ago – arrived.

When I started writing this post, I hadn’t even opened it (ok, I took off the wrapping, but the iPad was still in pristine condition in its box) … because I knew that if I did, I’d start playing with it immediately, and I could effectively wave “goodbye” to the rest of my day.

I did, however, take a photo of it – still in the box – with my iPhone, and post it to my Facebook Page. Within minutes, it started generating discussion as you can see from this screengrab (I’ve blurred out the names for privacy reasons):

Shared excitement and engagement

Over the last couple of weeks, ever since I first posted that I had ordered an iPad, to when I posted that it had shipped, to when I posted how disappointed I was the other day on receiving a package that was “only” a Klout Perk, to yesterday, when I shared my excitement on Facebook that it was finally here, I’ve seen this happen every single time. Every. Single. Time.

And it’s not just the iPad-related posts that have generated happiness among my friends. It happened when I decided to switch from BlackBerry to iPhone, and when I decided to switch from PC to Mac (that was the first Apple product I ordered, so you can see I have slowly but surely become a #Machead). Every time. And not just on Facebook, but on Twitter too, if I shared the news there.

I’ve lost count of how many people offered advice, shared their favorite apps and tips. Sam Title even got on a Skype IM chat with me to help me customize my MacBook Pro, since I was, at the time, completely clueless about all things Apple (not that I’m much better now, but certainly a little better).

When customer service is less than great

Now, I’ve never heard great things about Apple’s customer service. My friends have had their own issues with it. And even though Apple employees are apparently all ingesting a secret sauce, I personally haven’t seen evidence of it from a customer service point of view (they were great when I was making a purchase, but after that, not so much, and my own in-store experience left much to be desired).

Quite possibly there are reports, etc., that I’m not seeing, but my point is that usually when you see breathless “omigawd they’re so awesome” customer service-related posts or tweets, they’re usually talking about Zappos, Southwest and Comcast, not Apple. And the company’s Scott Forstall hasn’t even tweeted yet, despite much being made of his getting on Twitter.

Why it doesn’t matter

But Apple’s products are so good that it doesn’t matter. The Apple experience is so great that it doesn’t matter. Apple’s customers do exactly what the company needs them to do – to evangelize the product(s) and brand (I mean, have you read this post?! God help you if you catch me IRL and ask me about my Apple products, you’ll be lucky to walk away with both ears intact).

That is the magic that is Apple. That is the kind of magic we need to try to weave for our organizations and clients … and our businesses. At the core of it is having a product, or service (or mission, in the case of nonprofit organizations) that, once experienced by your audience, is shared further by them because of their own experience and zeal for what you do (or make).

Marketing bells and whistles are great, but if the very product/service sucks, I don’t think even the best marketing, or great customer service, can help us get very far.

So: how are you putting the magic that is Apple to work for you?

Please share, I’d love to know. Or do you think I’m off the mark? Either way, please tell me, so that we can learn together!

email
Shonali Burke
Head honcho of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke is President & CEO of Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. Based in the Washington, D.C., area, she loves helping for- and non-profit clients, both small and large, turn corporate codswallop into community cool™. She also loves ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke

Latest posts by Shonali Burke (see all)

Print Friendly
Opt In Image

"A Little Birdie Told Me" could fly into your inbox just once a month. It's Shonali-as-seen-nowhere-else. What're you waiting for?

57 comments
Shonali
Shonali moderator

OK, @livefyre where are my conversations from Twitter?!

TheJackB
TheJackB

uh oh, someone is drinking the Apple Kool-Aid. ;)

bdorman264
bdorman264

That's how people talk about me 'The Bill experience is so great', That is the magic that is Bill........ha.....

I want an iPad, do you know of any contests? Maybe I could have an old guy race or something; I think I'm still pretty fast. I'll bet I can outrun @howiespm

Whew, you do have a lot coming up. Good luck with it and don't stress.

SouthWest has a certain culture. I was able to hear one of their top guys talk about how they 'hire for culture' vs trying to create culture once you are on board. Being in a service industry I would like to see us do the same. Hire people who have good attitudes, creative and fun to be around; everything else will fall into place and that's how I think you get people talking about you.

We (my business) are not there yet but it is certainly something to strive for.

Product vs service; what creates the buzz?

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

There are bad service stories anywhere and I think brands like Apple and Disney sometimes take it on the chin because 1) there are so many advocates and evangelists out there, there will be naysayers and 2) expectations are so high. My issue with Apple service is that it's 90 days for a new product (by phone) which if you can't get to a Genius bar, is pretty low. The waits at the Genius bar are another thing, I've read different articles on that 'inside the Apple store' stuff; they're often double and triple booked, like airlines. Other than that, I am and have always used MACs.

One of my favorite quotes when the first iPhone was released, talking about it growing into the enterprise/business sector: "beware of geeks bearing gifts." With their iPod and computer success, they were poised and then exploded w/ the phone as many people who'd never used an Apple product saw, felt and EXPERIENCED a difference. Not only was it intuitive, not only did it make what was a chore easy and productive, they were fun.

I put the Apple magic to work by following their marketing and growth, pointing out to clients that 1) they ain't Apple and 2) neither is Apple as they work so hard to always keep improving their devices. They really are thinking ahead, at how people use and could use these devices, how making something that is awesome is great but you can't stop there. FWIW. Oh, and enjoy your iPad. :-)

mdbarber
mdbarber

You know what I'm going to say...but I've been a MacHead for years. I have great experience with the telephone customer service guys who are ready to help you solve a problem and/or refer you to someone who's an expert in your specific problem.

We don't have an Apple store here (getting one in the fall) so go through a reseller who's great. But when I do go to a store I find them to be very niche specific. It's not quite as charming as on the phone but I can still get the answers that I want and the help I need.

In our house right now -- 4 iPods, 3 laptops & 1 desktop, 4 iPhones and i iPad. Yes...we are truly a Mac House. Welcome to the club.

annedreshfield
annedreshfield

I consider myself a dedicated Apple user -- I've had multiple iPods, I had the first iPhone, then the 3GS, and I'm lying in wait to pounce on the 5. I got a Macbook Pro for college, and I'm 100% sure I'll get an iMac when (if) I'm in the market for a desktop computer. I'm eyeing the iPad, but holding off because I don't see how I'll get much use out of it as a student, yet. My experiences with customer service have been, overall, quite fantastic. The battery in my Macbook Pro needed replacing a few months ago, and all it took was a 15 minute trip to the genius bar. Recently, a third-party case I purchased for my phone needed replacing, and I went in expecting to buy a new one, but the employee exchanged it for free (it's a $40 case!) because they were moving iPhone 3G and 3GS merchandise out of the store. It was a pleasant surprise. I talk Apple up to anyone who will listen. I've successfully convinced my parents to 1) get iPods 2) get iPhones 3) get an iPad (over a Kindle or Nook for my mom), and they're interested in the iMac when their desktop computer needs replacing. It's been a fascinating experience to see a tech company do so well, and convert so much people -- even skeptics -- into complete and total believers of the brand. It's inspiring.

rachaelseda
rachaelseda

I've always had an awesome customer service experience at the Apple Store. It's actually one of the reason's why I'd rather have a MacBook Pro, because I know if I need help there is an easy streamlined process for me to receive assistance.

Either way I do think the product and design etc. is why customer's love it and continue to come back. Apple customers are dedicated and addicted but I don't think this means at all that customer service can go to the way side. The whole experience matters.

On another note, I am WAY jealous of your new ipad. Congrats!

dariasteigman
dariasteigman

It's pretty amazing, isn't it, that a great product and sexy design can get even people who see the warts (e.g., so-so customer service, closed systems) to put aside their reservations and be evangelists for the brand? I suppose if we could bottle it we'd all be rock stars.

I'm still holding out for an Android tablet, but I totally covet your new iPad. :)

Lisa Gerber
Lisa Gerber

Ooooo! I'm the first one here this morning! I'm Johnny on the spot! I'll agree and disagree then agree again. Absolutely. The product has to rock. We can out together a smash-up campaign which will fail to convert if the product sucks.
But I don't think that allows Apple to fall short on it's customer service. To be a truly amazing product, everything should rock. If they have crappy service, eventually it will affect sales.

But. I've only had great service from them and I am a full-on Mac head.

Anyway, it's something I always discuss with my clients when they say they want to be perceived this way or that. It's good to know who you want to be, but are you BEING who you want to be?
Darn. Jim beat me while I took too long to type this. Lol!

jmitchem
jmitchem

Apple, Disney, Zappos - best customer service on the planet. In that order.

jennalanger
jennalanger moderator

@Shonali Twitter had a hiccup that required a restart on our end, but new tweets should be coming in now. Glad to know you like the feature! :)

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@TheJackB Drinking it and trying to figure out the recipe, LOL!

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@bdorman264 LOL, you're not the only one who wants to win an iPad in a contest, @40deuce was talking about that just yesterday!

Hiring people FOR their culture is such a great way to look at it. I wish more organizations did that. I suppose that's what they think they're doing, but so many of them fall by the wayside when implementing.

So what are you going to do to get your iPad, Bill? :)

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@3HatsComm This last period - two weeks - was the longest I had to wait for a product, so I'm really glad about that. In fact, there was an issue with my credit card (stupid company put a hold on it thinking it was a fraud transaction) when I ordered my iPad.

After authorizing it, I checked back with Apple, and was told that it would ship out in X weeks. I literally whined on the phone, saying, "But I want it NOOOWWWWW." The poor rep was so shocked, she was stunned into silence. I quickly told her I was joshing her and she burst out laughing... and upgraded my shipping to Express - 2-3 days as opposed to a week. I loved that.

I think you hit the nail on the head, experiencing the difference it what makes it magic. And I love your client tips!

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@mdbarber Once I convince J to switch over, then we will really be a Mac House! My brother's a huge convert too.

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@annedreshfield Lemme tell ya, I held off on the iPad forever as well, and then my friends like @mdbarber , @jillfoster , @mstory123 and @robjwu drew me in. I've heard some people say it's great if you're consuming content, not so much if you're producing it. I consume quite a bit of content, and just today, the first day I actually used Flipboard, I was amazed at how much more I'm reading and seeing, even from my Facebook and Twitter friends. I assume that as a student you're doing a lot of that, so ... ;)

How great about your customer experiences. My husband has an iPod (birthday gift from me, hee!), and while he is tempted by the Mac, he's not quite ready to make the switch. I'm still working on him...

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

@annedreshfield I've read some stories of switchers and while a few do go back to PC, many get it. They keep their Apple products longer (not the mention the resale aftermarket), they really do make it easier to get things done... the OS and software know how to work and get out of your way. There are probably tons of things my iMac can do that I haven't figured out b/c there hasn't been a need yet; the cliched 'it just works' is very true. My sisters have both had iPhone issues, quickly solved with a wait at the Genius bar. No blame game, no you shouldn't have done that, etc... just fixed or replaced. I think the iOS 5 moves for syncing will make a big impact, no more trying to remember all the apps who've bought b/c you never backup your iToy, etc.

See @Shonali they know what they're doing, have us all out here telling our Apple stories. So few brands do that, you know?

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@rachaelseda I have to say that Dell was great for customer service as well, up until the time my hard drive got fried (which was when I switched to a MacBook Pro, though I'd been eyeing one for years). And the hard drive thing... well, that could happen to anyone, so I didn't hold it against Dell.

But a Mac... that is the stuff dreams are made of!

mdbarber
mdbarber

@dariasteigman And you're waiting for an Android table because....? Curious more than anything.

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@dariasteigman LOLOL! To second @YasinAkgun 's question - why are you holding out for an Android tablet if you covet an iPad? Btw, her name is Irene (all my "named" gadgets are female, don't ask me why...)

YasinAkgun
YasinAkgun

@dariasteigman Just out of interest, why are you holding out for an Android Tablet? Would you say your an Android evangelist? :)

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@Lisa Gerber I love that you agree AND disagree in the same comment. So yes, I do agree that there's no excuse for bad customer service - my experience with Apple hasn't been stellar. But despite the snarking and bitching I see in a lot of SM about Apple, people who use their products are absolute raving fan boys and girls, and that is what is so remarkable to me.

"Are you BEING who you want to be?" Love that!

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@jmitchem I must be the only woman on the planet... ok, the Western world... ok, the US (!), who hasn't as yet ordered anything from Zappos... but I'm getting more and more tempted to do so!

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@jennalanger I love it! But I'm still not seeing 'em... will it take a while? Thank you for being so responsive, as always!

TheJackB
TheJackB

@Shonali The recipe is simple. Take a maniacal crackpot and give him great resources and people who don't mind allowing him to bully and demean them because they believe in his vision.

The create a zombie strikeforce to infiltrate the general public and speak only in glowing terms of the product.

If it were me, I'd opt to use Dorman and the Bill experience. You can get him at a cheaper rate than the guy in Cupertino and he is a lot more fun.

40deuce
40deuce

@Shonali @bdorman264 I'm going to get that iPad through Twitter... somehow. I'll figure it out one day ;)

I know what you're talking about in this post though @Shonali . Having a great marketing team or advertising campaign really means nothing if the actual product/service is crap.

We have a beer company up here in Canada (of which I won't name because I have friends who work there) that has the best advertising, gives away the best stuff, sponsors the coolest events, etc, but I won't ever buy the beer because I think it sucks. Everything else I love about the company, but I won't ever buy their product because it's just not a good product.

We can wrap anything in nice looking shiny wrapping paper, but if what's inside still sucks, everything else doesn't matter. It's great to have an awesome marketing team, but if the product/service is no good, all the marketing in the world couldn't help.

Cheers,

Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

bdorman264
bdorman264

@Shonali @40deuce Well, I've won a big screen and a flat screen TV from golf, but I'm not too sure about an iPad. I guess I better go out and produce enough new business to buy one if I'm going to get it..................:).

mdbarber
mdbarber

@Shonali I expect J to succumb to their powers soon. He cannot resist much longer. Resistance is futile!

annedreshfield
annedreshfield

@Shonali @mdbarber @jillfoster @mstory123 @robjwu I have a few people trying to do the same with the iPad - I've seen them out and about more and more in corporate offices and on college campuses! I don't doubt that the iPad is better for consuming content, but my iPhone does a decent job of that...for now. I think it's such a beautiful tablet that I'm drawn to it, useful or not. :)

Good luck on the husband! You'll get him. ;)

robjwu
robjwu

@Shonali Yep -- it's great of consumption of content. It's a little but more difficult to create, but Keynote and Pages have worked out pretty well for me. I was hoping iMovie would be good, but I haven't had the opportunity to really use it. The video quality from the iPad is not as good as I want it to be and importing videos is a bit more difficult than it should be.

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@3HatsComm I remember, when I first got my MacBook Pro, @mdbarber was really helpful (as she usually is :)). When it arrived, I was so excited and nervous at the same time - I didn't have a working laptop, except for a netbook, and I really needed a "full" computer. Mary said, passing along the wisdom of her husband (who's also awesome), "It's like a toaster. Just plug it in."

And that's literally what I did. I couldn't get over how EASY it was... when mostly one hears it's so tough to switch over from a PC. Boy, not with me. I took to it like a duck to water and I can't even swim. @annedreshfield

Yes, exactly my point - WE are selling their products for them!

mdbarber
mdbarber

@Shonali Have a friend who's now a Mac user with a horror story about her Dell. It was on warranty and they couldn't be bothered to even send her a box for it for two weeks and said it would be four before she got it back. As a web designer that wasn't acceptable. So, now she's a convert.

jennalanger
jennalanger moderator

@Shonali Unfortunately we can't get tweets fromt the past, but we're working on making it more resilient.

mdbarber
mdbarber

@40deuce @Shonali @bdorman264 I know exactly what you're saying and we've all seen it in different companies. The difference here is that Apple products don't such either. They have the package -- great marketing and great products. I think that's why so many people love them, once they get sucked in like @Shonali shonali did.

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@HowieG Heh, I hope so too! Btw, congrats on you know what. :)

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

@bdorman264 @Shonali I don't need an IPad or a Tablet just yet. in 2-3 years there will be ones for $200 with full computing power and I am not a fan of digital keyboards which is why I love my Droid2.

I have blogged about Tablets being the future of mobile video and entertainment since way before the IPad was even rumored. And this will come true. I would say if we love mobile video on our IPhones which all the mobile people were chiming, I said why do we have big screens at home. It was more from a lack of an option.

Things IPads/Tablets will not be is things we haul around like a phone but definitely will haul around more than a laptop.

Being in Advertising and seeing once again the Ad folks saying it is the saviour of the print media industry only to see that not be true I wonder if the luster for marketers will fade and instead the luster for technology makers increase since its the technology we care about not some rich media advertisement for Kraft Mac and Cheese.

BTW Grats @Shonali I sure hope the experience is just half as amazing as the @bdorman264 experience and you will love it to death!

annedreshfield
annedreshfield

@Shonali You're right, I don't branch out to a lot of websites on my phone; I stick to outlets that have nice apps (or in Facebook's case it's a horrible app but I use it anyway). If the company hasn't optimized for mobile, then I probably won't bother to look at it on my phone!

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@annedreshfield It really is beautiful. I think the size of the screen helps; I've become addicted to Flipboard in a day. So I'm reading a lot more than I would (as opposed to just skimming on my iPhone because some stupid media company hasn't optimized its site for mobile...!)

robjwu
robjwu

@Shonali I haven't figured it out, but I think the video and image quality is grainy overall -- not bad, but not HD. That will probably come in the next version!

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@robjwu One of the first apps I installed was iMovie, but I haven't tried it out yet. I have noticed that photos are quite grainy... maybe it's better taking them at a slight distance?

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@Lisa Gerber And what's even worse about that is I love being near water!

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@Lisa Gerber Nope... well, technically I can swim, but I can't tread water. Bizarre, eh?

mdbarber
mdbarber

@Shonali Yeah, I thought it was pretty bad. I talked with her today and they still haven't picked up her computer. It has been a MONTH now.

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@mdbarber Wow. That is really unacceptable. Thankfully I never experienced anything like that with Dell. In fact, whenever I was having an issue, I'd get on their live chat or phone and be on for as long as it took. They always called back to check, to see if I was ok. Maybe I got lucky!

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@Lisa Gerber So now we not only have to have a "hair day" together, we have to order from Zappos at the same time.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] product, that’s a start and pretty soon, everyone’s talking about you and your special marketing magic. Other [...]

map