My new iPad and why customer service is so important

So, I finally got my new iPad last Thursday. I admit that I am a ridiculously enthusiastic Apple fan boy, and so I was willing to pay double the price to get hold of the device earlier than Vodacom would allow. Here is a photo of it just after unboxing at #NetProphet: iPad shortly after unboxing at NetProphet

First, the device...second, the moan about what has to be the worst customer service I have EVER experienced from a South African online store -

The device

If you haven't read up about the iPad, visit Apple's website for a full run down. After being absorbed by Apple's marketing machine you will undoubtedly want one. It's the way it is.

The important questions that many people are asking: is the device solving a problem?; and how does it fit into my computing? Here are my views:

The device isn't solving an obvious problem. Steve Jobs introduced the iPad by explaining that Apple was looking to create a device that filled the gap between the iPhone/iPod and the MacBook computer. Was a space that needed filling between these devices? I've heard people referring to the iPad as an oversized iPhone or a MacBook's screen without the keyboard. Based on my week-long experience of the iPad, the problem it solves is simple: we're not computing as much as we can and the iPad helps us compute more.

Which leads me to the next question: how does it fit into my computing?

The iPhone is ultra portable, but lacks a large enough interface to do serious computing. The web surfing experience, while good, isn't as good as it could be. The MacBook is large and powerful enough to do serious computing, but it's too big to easily compute in meetings, airplane travel, bus trips, hair salons, bed, doctors' waiting rooms, while waiting for the kids, etc... I simply don't enjoy flapping my arms into the chests of my neighbouring airplane passengers while I try to whack out a proposal in Microsoft Word. And while my MacBook can serve as a heated blanket in my bed, it isn't easy to make use of it because it is designed to be placed on a flat surface.

The iPad helps me compute more. It helps me compute in environments where the iPhone and the MacBook didn't cut it. And for many people, myself included, the more I compute, the more I learn, the more I become competitive, the greater the chances of my success. For others, the more they can compute, the more they can connect with family and friends, the better the quality of their relationships and therefore their lives.

Not everyone wants to compute more. My girlfriend tells me she wouldn't use an iPad, but a holiday would be nice :)

What do you think?

Why customer service is so important

I was going to write a long post about why I feel is deliberately set up to deliver KAK customer service. But instead of wasting my time, all i'm going to say is:

I waited 9 days to receive the iPad when it was promised to me within 3 to 6 days. I explicitly bought the iPad at double the price because I would get it quickly. Essentially, I paid for speedy delivery. Each time the delivery was delayed I had to call them to discover that the delivery was postponed. To their credit, they offered to loan me a 16GB iPad for a presentation I was giving and planned to deliver with the iPad on day 6 of waiting for the delivery. I'm still not convinced anything would have come from the offer of the loan, but i'm not naturally trusting of them based on my poor purchase experience.

And so, the reason customer service is so important is that dissatisfied customers tend to moan about it and reduce your chance of selling to their friends.

What I take away from my experience of poor customer service:

1. Understand what your customer is paying for. Then deliver to their expectations or exceed them. At we always deliver a slab of Lindt chocolate with the first delivery. It's completely unexpected, it's pricey, and the customer feels we have spoilt them. Easy to do. Very effective.

2. If you can't deliver to your customers' expectations, apologise and realign their expectations. Customers are generally very understanding if you show that you care. Just by calling them you are communicating that you care.

3. Wake up and focus on the customer, or fade away as they choose to deal with your competitors.