Steve Jobs: Customer Service Agent

Today, Apple – Live introduced the next line of Apple products to the world from their home base in Cupertino, California. Products that seem…a little familiar.  It’s not exactly outrageous to say Apple’s innovation streak has cooled in the years since Steve Jobs left us, but in many ways he still feels like the face of Apple. It’s probably because he was so good at it. Many people still remember Jobs standing next to the first computer that talked to them, people remember him as the guy that who it possible to carry around a band’s entire discography in their back pocket, and a select few remember him as the customer service agent who took a few months to get back to them.

Throughout his time as Apple’s CEO, Jobs was (in)famous for fielding questions or complaints sent to him from his very public email address. What’s interesting about this is not only was the head of a gigantic company spending time personally responding to inquires that could be answered by employees the company hired specifically to answer these questions—but he had also gone on record questioning the effectiveness of feedback saying, “It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them.” Similar to the Henry Ford sentiment of, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Yet Jobs still made sure to be plugged into what the customers were saying.

Was this all a marketing ploy? Knowing Steve Jobs it’s a fair question to ask, but a much more likely reason is that Jobs knew the importance for “higher-ups” to be in tune with what the customers were saying. Once a company becomes successful it’s easy for the CEO to lose touch with their customers. Employees might be afraid to pass along negative feedback, or they just don’t have the time of day to really analyze the data.

There are examples of companies that have refused to listen to the voice of the customer and are still successful. Can’t think of any? How about cable companies? Those monsters of business that have some of the worst customer service of all time (Comcast was named 2014’s Worst Company in America by The Consumerist). The reason they are able to stay in business is due to lack of competition. If you’re in an industry with competitors, however, it’s likely that if you aren’t listening to your customers someone else is and they’re aiming to steal them from you.

Cvent knows how hard it can be to sift through feedback using dated methods, so we make sure to give you the most efficient experience possible. Online web surveys are simple to set up and the data culled from them can be invaluable. Take a look at our eBook Voice of the Customer: Big Data as a Strategic Advantage to understand the benefits of listening and then sign up for a demo to stay in the loop.

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