Posts Tagged With: Technology

The iPhone 5 is the latest example of “The Apple Effect” – how do they do it?!?

New product launches are like walking on thin ice. Same goes for service providers and retailers entering new markets. You can never truly predict how the market will react. You can have the best marketing campaign in the world supported by all the statistics money can buy, and still come up short. You could gather a lineup of Obama, Michael Phelps, Justin Bieber, RG3 (!), and Oprah jumping up and down on trampolines with big signs saying “greatest product in the world”, and still people may not be so quick to engage.

Enter the iPhone 5. Apple continues to be a marquee brand that other organizations aspire to be like. Regardless of industry, people look at what Apple has accomplished in terms of Customer Loyalty and constantly ask – how can we generate that same loyalty and enthusiasm within our industry?

Check out this video – can you imagine someone walking into a Volkswagen dealership and having the same reaction to a “new car”…that it turns out they already own?

Jimmy Kimmel: What Happens when we “Introduce” the iPhone 5 to the public – with an iPhone 4s?

While Apple detractors can use this as proof that Apple products aren’t all that great and it’s all about the “mystique” associated with the product, savvy marketers watch a video like this, their jaw sinks, head shaking, asking “wow how do they do it?”

Apple has a different approach than most organizations, one focused on what should be, not what can be. Jobs’ team is famous for running through boundaries when others are frozen by them. Let’s break it down by talking about the Apple experience in the context of Who, How, and Why.

Who?

Let’s focus on their 2 most high impact organizations – Design/Development and Marketing.

Apple does not develop their products based on what people WANT. They develop them based on what people don’t know they want…yet. Here is a great quote from Jobs that summarizes:

“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new”

– Steve Jobs

People are inspired by innovation & change…and ultimately, that’s what any strategic marketer wants to do to grow their customer base and take market share – motivate their promoters to keep buying and promoting while activating the need to change amongst their competitors’ customers.

As great as their design team is, Marketingis where Apple really shines – some may say it’s easy when you’ve got great products, but the main thing Apple does better than everyone else? They believe in the Customer EXPERIENCE, not Customer SERVICE. What makes the people in that video so inclined to trust their emotions over their actual physical senses, when they are holding this iPhone 5 imposter? Apple has set the expectation that their brand is associated with innovation, improvement, and agility…regardless of if it actually is.

How? Apple does a better job of communicating with the consumer than nearly anyone else, in any industry. Whether it’s communicating with you via an interactive digital experience (App Store updates, iOS updates, iTunes, etc), or via an in-person experience (retail stores, call center, etc), they focus on 2 things – adding value, and measuring your experience while doing so. Just like a puppy who jumps when they hear the treat jar lid spring open, consumers jump when they are alerted to a pending Apple Experience…and they want in.

Why?¬†Confidence. Consumers are confident that every Apple experience will meet their expectations, or exceed them. Apple builds confidence amongst consumers by constantly delivering on their promises. When they don’t – they want to hear about it. Heck, when they do, they want to hear about it. I have never seen an organization so dedicated to their engagements with consumers – if Apple could ask you every day “give me one word that describes Apple” (shout-out to BrandTags) and track that sentiment, taking into account all of the external variables (seasons/weather, market share, spend, product releases, etc) to measure the reasoning behind customers’ feedback they would. Apple has a level of respect for consumer sentiment that is unmatched in any industry. This allows them to align their delivery to their customers’ expectations, and ultimately drive consumer confidence and loyalty through the roof.

So to recap – how does Apple create a culture of loyalty so strong that anticipation, emotion, and promotion takes precedence over features and functions? Thank goodness for simplicity and flowcharts.

Disruption–>Innovation–>Commitment–>Engagement–>Experience–>Confidence–>Loyalty–>Revenue–>Profitability–>Shareholder Value–>SUCCESS

Simply put by Jobs himself:

“Our DNA is as a consumer company – for that individual customer who’s voting thumbs up or thumbs down. That’s who we think about. And we think that our job is to take responsibility for the complete user experience. And if it’s not up to par, it’s our fault, plain and simply”

Nice job Apple. Like my man Aziz Ansari said, “that’s how it’s done son!”

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Categories: Customer Experience, Leadership, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Square Payments coming to Starbucks – EMBRACE DISRUPTION!

Square goes mainstream (updated link)

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We all enjoy disruptive technology as consumers. Developments like Square’s payment system are a perfect example of people realizing “there is a better way to do this” and actually doing something about it. Hey, small business owners, remember the days of those “payment system” companies robbing you right in front of your eyes?

“Yes sir, that will be $2500 for the credit card machine, payable in 100 installments of $25 a month…and we will also be taking 3% of every transaction for VISA/MC and 3.5% for AMEX, thank you”

I was talking to the owner of a local business the other day who told me that he gets a surcharge on every transaction he swipes that is under $10. Wow. It’s (ironically) a small coffee shop – how many transactions do you think are subject to this arbitrary fee?

The “experience” didn’t stop with hefty fees. Good luck getting a live person on the phone to assist with an inoperable machine or a billing issue. Your brand and your revenue stream rests on your ability to take payments via card, and if your machine is down, your world stops….yet you couldn’t hold anyone accountable to meet your expectations as a customer.

Credit cards are such a staple of our everyday purchasing routine, we as consumers expect businesses to accept any and all forms of payment. When they don’t, you kind of look at them funny like “is this a legit operation?” Small businesses need to accept credit cards, so unfortunately, they are taken advantage of in the process. Excuse me for being sentimental, but shouldn’t we be encouraging people to start local businesses, not discouraging them with unreasonable fees on top of unreasonable fees?

Enter Square – eliminate the hidden fees…charge a flat fee for any type of card. Leasing a credit card machine? History.¬†Eliminate the proprietary hardware and associated challenges by making a simple device that works via technology you already own and use every day. Create a vast online knowledgebase where customers can get support immediately. Truly act as a service provider, taking pride in the service you are delivering. As with most technology today, Square is taking the details out of the equation and making it simple – pay us a flat fee, and we will provide the service you require….no fluff.

The deal with Starbucks (SBUX) is a terrific win not just for them and for Square, but for small businesses, consumers, and fans of similar companies who challenge conventional thinking and fix what’s broken. Howard Schultz (Chairman & CEO of SBUX) sitting on Square’s board makes so much sense as it strengthens their credibility in the eyes of other retailers, who certainly are taking notice.

Way to go Square, and way to go SBUX for believing in and embracing disruptive technology.

What’s next? Replacing cash registers with iPads? Equipping everyone at your big box retailer with their own scanner and payment system via iPhone, so you can “check out” anywhere in the store? It’s all coming…and as consumers, our transactions are about to get much easier.

Categories: Customer Experience, Technology | Tags: | 22 Comments

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