Apple Listened to Customers

There has been a lot of news about Apple recently. The company launched new types of iPods and lowered the price of the iPhone by $200 a few months after its initial launch. For the early adopters, who in some cases literally lined up for days and then paid an additional $200, this was tough news. While their phone is still the latest and greatest, it is now the latest and greatest for $400 instead of $600.

Apple has a very vocal customer base. The company’s very vocal customer base complained about price decreases. I’m sure Apple had expected this to happen, but their customers weren’t expecting such a sudden and drastic price drop. As such, they made their point clear – they didn’t like the price drop and thought it was unfair.

In an early interview with the USA Today, Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs said that the price decrease was just the way technology worked. His responses to the questions seem rather unsympathetic and the words were definitely not as carefully chosen as they could have been.

After the interview, there was even more outcry. However, Apple continued to monitor the feedback from their customers and was quick to respond. Steve Jobs wrote an open letter to the early iPhone adopters. He basically said “we’re right and have every right to do what we did, but we’re going to give you a $100 store credit because we really like you guys and want you to like us.”

The point of my post is not about what Apple did, but instead that they did something and they did something quickly. From Apple’s handling of this situation, we can learn a few things:

Listen to your customers.
If you are getting a lot of feedback from your customers about a recent change or announcement, at least listen to them. Hear what they have to say and see if it means anything.

Form an action plan and act quickly.
The next step is to form an action plan of some sort and act very quickly. The letter from Steve Jobs was posted pretty quickly. A lot of companies really struggle to move quickly, but Apple seemed to be an exception in this case.

Be ready for your actions.
Apple has promised a lot of customers a $100 store credit. Hopefully they were well on their way to implementing a smooth procedure for all iPhone early adopters to claim those credits, use them, etc. If the experience is smooth, it will help a lot.

(Do the right thing.)
I’m not sure about how altruistic Apple’s motives are with this, but they are making some attempt at doing the right thing. I think that is a positive step for Apple (or any company that does something similar) and probably shows quite a bit about the company.

Also, here is a great post from Seth Godin about the whole situation. His suggestions are great. However, the suggestions above apply to what he suggests as well.

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