Why Did Apple Do So Poorly?

I’ve had some great discussions about the 2011 Temkin Experience Ratings. It’s wonderful to see all of the dialogue. One of the most common questions that I get is: Why was Apple so low (#79 overall)? I’ve given my opinion on this to several people, but I decided to do a more thorough analysis of the Temkin Ratings data.

First of all, Apple did quite well compared to other personal computer makers; ending up with the highest overall Temkin Experience Rating (59%, almost an “okay” rating) which was four percentage points above the industry average and two percentage-points higher than the second-place computer company, Acer.

When examining the three components of the Temkin Experience Ratings, Apple leads more in the Functional component than in other areas…

So Apple is the best of its peers, but it still just “okay” when compared with companies across 12 industries. Here are some reasons why Apple might not be scoring as high as some people might have expected:

  • Apple has always had rabid fans. But as the Mac expands its market, it serves more mainstream users that tend to find it difficult to deal with computer makers (all of them).
  • Females and older consumers are the demographics that gives computer makers the highest experience ratings. It turns out that Apple customers tend to be younger than average and a bit more weighted towards males.

I also looked ahead to the next rating we will be publishing, the 2011 Temkin Loyalty Ratings. Apple does better… #51 overall and seven percentage points above the computer industry average. Keep an eye out to see how Apple does in our Forgiveness, Trust, Customer Service, and Web Experience ratings (I can’t give away all of Apple’s scores too early).

We are also doing an analysis of purchasing experiences across a number of sectors, including personal computers. So I dug a bit into the data we have on 842 US consumers that had recently purchased a computer. Here’s how they rate Apple vs PC makers when it comes to steps in the buying experience:

Apple outpaces PC makers (as a group) across all elements of the new computer process (although when looking at specific PC brands, we find that HP customers are more satisfied than Apple customers with the purchase process and both HP and DELL customers are equally satisfied with the computer they purchased). The largest gap is in the area of customer service where Apple is 13 percentage-points better than PC makers. But in other parts of the process like the actual purchase, Apple is not as far out in front.

Back to the question I setup in the title of this post: Why did Apple do so poorly? It didn’t do poorly at all. It provides the best overall customer experience in the computer industry. But… it does not dominate all areas of the customer experience.

The bottom line: Yes, even Apple has a lot of room for improvement

About Bruce Temkin
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, marketing, interaction design, customer service, and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

3 Responses to Why Did Apple Do So Poorly?

  1. Mark Marone says:

    Great research, Bruce. Could it also be that Apple’s brand strategy is not about customer intimacy, but product quality and superiority in the marketplace? I know several people who have had terrible experiences with Apple’s customer service- that just doesn’t seem to be where their focus is when you compare them to a Zappos, Amazon or Soutwest Airlines. Similarly, UPS pursues a brand strategy of operational excellence rather than customer intimacy- obviously for them it’s about logistics. Different companies pursuing different strategies begs the question, how do we distinquish a measure of customer experience from customer service when comparing a company that pursues a customer-centric strategy with one that may pursue an operational or product quality focused strategy? Clearly there are questions in the instrument about product and efficiency, personal effort, etc. which measure components of customer experience, but your readers’ questioning Apple’s score suggests some confusion around distinguishing CS from CE for companies with different brand strategies. Is this just a question of interpretation? Just some thoughts. Mark

    • Bruce Temkin says:

      Hi Mark: Excellent comment. In a previous post, I discussed how customer experience effort need to create the attitudes and behaviors in target customers that support your business and brand strategies. So Apple’s level of customer experience may be appropriate for its strategy. Clearly, Apple has distinguished itself more with its products. But it also has invested heavily in its retail service model which shows-up in the data; because it realizes that you can’t just fous on product quality alone. Having said that, this research looked specifically at the PC business. As it turns out, new Mac buyers are no more satisfied with their computers than new Dell or HP buyers; which I’ll be showing in my upcoming research report on the PC buying experience. So it certainly can’t rely on a product-quality strategy alone in personal computers.

  2. chuckporterj says:

    Nice Reporting :)

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