Posts Tagged ‘apple’

This Is How You Do It: Frank (Restaurant, Austin), American Express And Apple

September 10, 2009

So, after this whole “Intuit thing,” I got to thinking about companies that provide rapid response and provide value to their consumers.

Companies like that do exist.  They are not “dry land.”

Here are three companies that get it right.

Frank (Restaurant, Austin)

In one of my infrequent visits to downtown, I stopped for dinner at a restaurant called, “Frank”  and since I am in the habit of posting reviews to Yelp, I wrote this the following day and I got an almost immediate response from the owner.

Here’s the thing.  One e-mail from the owner isn’t going to immediately turn me into a rabid Frank fan.

But, a great customer experience with the friendly staff, a good hot dog, a fantastic cold root beer, a rapid and polite response from the owner…I hope you see where I’m going with this – by starting on the right foot and keeping the momentum the sum of all of these things are the building blocks that form the basis of increased loyalty by me (the customer).

I’ve since responded to the owner and plan to go back there the next time I’m downtown.  They have made me a a fan, and I’ve told a bunch of people this story (you included).

American Express (AMEX)

Last year, I purchased a one year software subscription and since then the computer with that subscription is not in use anymore.

This past weekend, I noticed on my AMEX statement that the software company automatically billed $60 to my card for another year of support.

I didn’t even bother trying to figure out how or why the charge got on my statement.  One of the reasons I pay the service fee for an AMEX card is that they have people who do that for me.

I say that and I can tell you that it was pretty much this simple:

  1. I called AMEX.  A nice phone representative asked me a few questions about the charge and politely put me on hold.
  2. He came back about two minutes later and gave me a confirmation code and told me the charge had been removed from my statement.
  3. The end.

I spent five, maybe seven, minutes on the phone from dialing to hanging up.

It is well worth my time to pay the service charge on my AMEX.

What do I mean by that?

Well, when I was a kid, my brother’s car was stolen.  At some point they found his car and it was in an impound lot in Arizona.  He got this letter saying that if he didn’t show up by whatever date, they’d sell it at auction.  So I asked my brother, “When are you going to Arizona?”  He said, “It’s not worth my time?”  I said, “What do you mean by that?”  And my brother, in a way only he could, proceeded to break down the mathematics of the cost of his time, the cost of the car, travel…all the variables involved, and after ten minutes or so of some serious math, I was in full agreement with him.  Not worth his time.

So, five minutes and a service charge is easily a better bargain than having to call up the software company and get into a shouting match with them and then going back and forth and around and around for however long it would take to resolve this mess (in fact, I had to cancel a credit card in the past because after seven months they would not remove a charge made to a hotel in a state I hadn’t been to in years  **ugh**).

So, I Twittered about my positive customer experience and wrote, “Why AMEX is worth the $. SW company auto renewed a sub without my authorization. Called AMEX. Charge is gone. #DONE! #TheEnd

Sure enough, the next day I got a very nice response from @AskAmex, “@NoahGK, Hi, it’s Beth from Amex. Noticed your tweet. Glad to hear issue was rslvd quickly. If you need assistance in the future, tweet us.

So now, I not only had a great experience with AMEX but I now have someone (Beth and @AskAmex) to contact if things get hairy in the future for whatever reason.

Like I said.  This is how you do it.

Apple Retail Stores

I recently convinced my father to switch from his 28 year run using PCs (he owned the original IBM 5150 PC) to a MacBook Pro.

So far he’s liking it and he opted to purchase the “One On One” to help retrain him and smooth out the transition.

The thing that we have both noticed about the Apple Retail Store employees is that they are highly educated on the products and highly motivated to help customers.

They’ll work to help you as much as they can.  If they don’t know the answer, they try to pass you to someone who can help you.  But they never give up.

When I was on the PC, I used to waste so much time going it alone and Googleing my way to try to solve problems.  I was forced to become an expert.  It was almost like how owners of early automobiles like the Ford Model T had to have mechanical skills to ensure their cars wouldn’t break down.

I joked with my friend Dan that in my first month switching over, I used to stare at my computer a lot not knowing what to do. Literally, since I used to allot time for doing disk defrags, antivirus updates, spyware checks and who knows how many other pointless tasks.

Now, when I have a problem, I write it down and just plan to stop into an Apple Retail Store at some point and ask someone.

Our iGang: Where I Offer Advice On Filling The Apple Board Of Directors Void

August 3, 2009

Today, it has been well reported that Eric Scmidt resigned from the Apple Board of Directors (Apple Press Release).

When you look at the primary focus / strategic direction of Apple, retail stores and consumer “lifestyle” computing, Apple has a strong Board of Directors that is pretty evenly distributed.

For retail, there’s Millard Drexler (Chairman and CEO of J. Crew) and Andrea Jung (Chairman and CEO, Avon Products).  It should be noted that Drexler was working at the GAP from 1995 – 2002 (in management, not folding shirts).

For software, they had Google and then there’s Bill Campbell (Chairman and former CEO, Intuit Corp.) who is now left holding the entire load in this category.

Under the category of “smart people” they have Al Gore (former VP and leader of the Vice Presidential Action Rangers) and Arthur D. Levinson, Ph. D. (Chairman of Genentech).

And of course, they got a finance person in Jerry York (Chairman, President and CEO of Harwinton Capital).

This resignation leaves a huge hole in the “software” portion of their board.

Software development architecture is moving towards web-based software services.  Or at the very least, thin client installations that pull data from “the cloud” (like Evernote).

So, outside of Google.  Who has the expertise that can fill this void?

I would offer the following advice:

Go with a “grey hair” working a startup.

A senior-level person who left the “establishment” to start a new venture to take advantage of the changing landscape of computing  (think Microserfs, but 20 years older).

A guy like Jason Calacanis could probably provide a short-list of these type of people.

Speaking of which, adding a senior-level woman wouldn’t be such a bad idea either.

I’d say this is less “advice” and more “find the B movie version of Google” (or if you want to be optimistic about it, the next rock star).

What If IDG Threw A Conference, And Nobody Came?

December 17, 2008

Veronica Belmont twittered that Apple’s 2009 appearance at Macworld Expo 2009 and will be their last.  This includes both exhibiting and delivering a keynote. (press release)

To quote the Apple press release, “Apple is reaching more people in more ways than ever before, so like many companies, trade shows have become a very minor part of how Apple reaches its customers…Apple has been steadily scaling back on trade shows in recent years, including NAB, Macworld New York, Macworld Tokyo and Apple Expo in Paris.”

Just last week, Adobe (Macnn) pulled their booth and Belkin (Cult of Mac) pulled out entirely.

Trade shows usually fall into three categories, which are not mutually exclusive (meaning: they can do any or all functions at the same time).

  1. See and be seen: you go because it is “expected” of you and if you’re not there, people will start talking about how you’re maybe going bankrupt.
  2. Knowledge transfer: you have information that your customers or partners need, and the trade show becomes a forum to deliver this information.
  3. Qualified leads: a great way to get a stack of leads for your sales force.

The problem is, that to “see and be seen” is a luxury.  There are more efficient ways to transfer knowledge and qualified leads can sometimes be gotten cheaper, elsewhere.

So where does this leave IDG?  Assuming they even do a 2010 show (which, I’m sure they will try to soldier forward), they’ll be doing without two of the largest vendors in the market.  It’ll be interesting to see if other vendors use this opportunity to grab the spotlight, or if they follow and walk away.

But the real question. What you should be asking yourself is, how does this affect Apple’s marketing budget for 2010? Will the money that was in their “Macworld line item” be distributed to other marketing programs?  Or, will their overall marketing budget reduce?

Are they going to spend the money on something else, or “give it back?” In the press release Apple hints at things like the Retail Stores and the web as possible “alternatives” to their being at the show.  So, I suspect they’ll probably give up some of it and use the reset for something new.  Then pat themselves on the back for all the money they saved the company and write it up as a best practice (that’s how us marketeers roll)

I guess the one thing that kind of sucks about this, and this isn’t anything that Apple is necessarily responsible for, is the devastating impact this will have on the community aspect of the show?  With more people working remotely, trade shows are often the only way that we have face-to-face contact with peers and colleagues.  Reduced attendance by industry professionals from these companies means less interesting people to meet.  It also might mean less people overall attending the conference.

So. Like any Apple announcement, they throw the grenade over the hill.  Cue big Michael Bay-style explosion (IMDB), and now we wait to see what happens after the dust settles.