I tend not to use this blog to relate personal stories but Ann Michael copied me in on the details of her tussles with Dell customer services just as I was being atypically exasperated by Apple. She, having commented on customer service on blogs in the past, had been granted a fast track to satisfaction and she wondered what message that sent to those customers like me who were restricted to the standard approach. Well, the experiences were certainly different.
When I logged into the London store site looking to gain access to the Genius Bar reservation page, I found instead an "innovation" in the form of the Apple concierge who is there to help me. All well and good. This seemed like a statement of dedicated customer service intent - but sadly, having registered my details, I was told that the concierge was too busy to deal with me and perhaps I should consider renewing my Applecare contract.
Result - customer expectations raised then dashed - just as in the case of Ryanair's recent promotion debacle which uncannily echoes that at Starbucks. But worse than that, my zealous prosletysing of Apple is now under review.
Had the experience been merely good enough, I might have grumbled a little bit, but ultimately been satisfied. However, if you manage your customers' expectations upwards and then fall short, you have a satisfaction problem and possibly a word of mouth one too. It is a fine line to tread, but I'm constantly amazed at how managers fail to understand that if you talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.
[Geek sidebar - any thoughts on why the lower memory slot on my two year old G4 1 khz powerbook has suddenly stopped working and what happened to the startup chime?]