If there's one thing I've realized about Apple, it's that they've got this whole customer service thing down pat. The old saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Similarly, if it is broke, you'd expect to just have it fixed, right? Not with Apple—you'll probably get something brand new!
There is no doubt in my mind that I drank the Apple Kool-Aid, but I like to think I've still held onto my sanity despite my cult-like obsession with a corporate entity. Their hardware is magnificently beautiful and easy to use, and the Mac software is above and beyond sexy. Their customer service is equally good, and in my experience is unparalleled in the tech industry. You've got to hand it to Apple: even though I spent four hours sitting on a wooden stool waiting for a data transfer for a new MacBook Pro, I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.
You see, Apple has this great way of handling problems. My MacBook Pro was showing some display issues after three months of use, so I made an appointment with the Genius Bar right away. I took it in and showed the Genius my problem. He offered to have it fixed for free, as it's under warranty. The problem with that was it'd take 3-5 days to repair the display, at least. That's way too much time for a Web designer like me who depends on constant computer uptime. Instead, I asked him to let me exchange it right there for a new one and do a free data transfer to the new one. He okayed it with his boss and I was set.
Apple's mentality for nearly all problematic hardware is simple: replace it. During my hours of waiting on the data transfer, I observed many people report iPod or iPhone problems. Each one walked away with a brand new iPod or iPhone, without spending so much as a dime. Frustrations were visible, as syncing 80GB of music is no quick task, but there was a certain sense of victory in the air. The attitude was not unlike defeating a weaker opponent. Each customer walked away with a new glass of Apple Kool-Aid, believing they got the best of the Genius—but I know better.
Apple is a wondrously simple company when it comes to customer service, and it pays off for customers like you and me. We go in with a certain level of expectations, and Apple manages to dazzle us with the ability to bend over backwards to make us happy. I appreciate that ability so much so that even though I've had problems with their hardware and have spent hours dealing with it, they have my best interests at heart.
With technology, it's expected that problems will arise at some point down the line. The defining moment for tech companies is how they handle these problems, and it's just one of many reasons why we will always indulge in the Apple Kool-Aid.
It also appears that the guys at 37signals picked up on a NY Times article about Apple's new retail stores. They note that the driving piece to Apple's success is personal attention. Whatever it is, they must have got the brick-and-mortar recipe right to earn $1.25 billion in revenue.