Wednesday, July 01, 2009

How to do customer service

I've previously complained about poor technical support that I received from Hewlett-Packard. That particular incident isn't over yet... the issue has been escalated a couple of times, HP has told me they are end-of-lifeing the product, ... I'll write that up when it comes to a resolution.

But it's not all moaning! Two companies that have provided excellent customer service recently are Apple and Bugaboo. I dealt directly with Apple myself, a friend with small children told me about the Bugaboo goodness.

First off, Apple. I own a MacBook Pro that I bought in mid-2007. Unfortunately, it suddenly started to suffer from the NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT problem a couple of months ago. The upshot was that my machine would boot but couldn't find a display adapter (or at least it found the Intel display adapter, not the NVIDIA one).

I verified that I could ssh into the machine and ran System Profiler on the command-line. A quick search by serial number showed that my machine was susceptible to this problem and that Apple offered free service.

So, I called AppleCare. I never bought AppleCare for this machine and for this problem I didn't need it. I described my problem in detail to the technician including the steps that I'd taken to try to resolve it (including resetting the PRAM and SMC) and he did something great. He completely avoided going through any script, realized that I knew what I was talking about and immediately set the machine up for repair.

Next step was an appointment with the Genius Bar. This was the most annoying part because Apple's Concierge software is poorly designed. But once at the Genius Bar I got my appointment in about 10 minutes of the allotted time. The technician immediately verified that I had the NVIDIA problem and that I was eligible for a motherboard replacement.

While I was chatting with him I mentioned that my iPhone headphones had a fault and I wanted to buy some new ones. He asked me how long I'd had the iPhone (about 3 months) and simply went and got me a new pair, for free, just like that.

Then he told me to expect that my MacBook Pro would take about a week to repair. I left the Apple Store and went into work. That evening Apple called me to tell me the laptop was ready.


Now Bugaboo. My friend Bill has two small kids and one of them is always in a Bugaboo Cameleon stroller. These are really high-end and expensive bits of kit. But they are very, very well made.

Now Bill's Bugaboo's brakes had developed a fault. They didn't always work and it was a minor annoyance. Little did Bill know that Bugaboo had identified this as a common fault and recalled the Cameleon.

Happily, Bill had filled out the warranty card for the stroller and sent it back when he bought it. One day a small package arrived unannounced containing a kit to fix the brakes. The kit worked perfectly.


In both cases, Apple and Bugaboo, we were dealing with premium brands and got premium support. Apple's ability to just give me new headphones made my experience wonderful, and Bugaboo simply sending the repair kit to Bill made him a loyal customer for life (he just needs to have some more kids).



Blogger Tony Finch said...

My MacBook saga - Apple's front line customer service staff are great despite other bits of the company not being quite so good at dealing with odd cases.

5:42 PM  

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