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Quality of Apple's industry-leading tech support declines in 2011

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
According to a study published on Thursday, Apple's phone-based tech support remains the best in the industry, but complaints regarding wait times and call automation have led to a decline in customer satisfaction.

The findings, based on data from an ongoing study conducted by Vocalabs, shows that the quality of Apple's phone support has declined significantly over the past year and a half, and is slowly sinking to reported levels of its competitors.

As part of the research firm's National Customer Service Survey, 4,852 customers were interviewed between May 2008 and December 2011 and polled on various service quality metrics regarding tech support calls to Apple, Dell and HP.

"Apple was far and away the leader in technical support quality," writes President and CEO of Vocalabs Peter U. Leppik. "In the end of 2011, the company has slipped to merely ahead of its competition in certain metrics, and with a downward trend. If this trend continues, Apple could even be trailing in support quality by the end of 2012."

After reaching a peak in early 2010, Apple has seen a precipitous 19 percent decline of customers who were "very satisfied" with their call, compared to the five percent and two percent drops in call satisfaction from Dell and HP respectively.

Problem resolution is also on the decline as the Mac maker showed a 17 point drop in problems solved over the phone, ultimately leaving one out of every two issues unresolved. The results bring Apple down to within four points of Dell's 46 percent rate of problem resolution, and three points of HP's 47 percent.


Source: Vocalabs


In some cases, Apple has been surpassed by its competitors, as in the 20 point increase in customers who did not experience problems with the company's interactive voice response system. In contrast, Apple fell 25 percent over two years for the same metric and is now sitting in last place behind HP.

Overall, the Mac maker saw drops in almost every surveyed area over the past 18 months, including likelihood to repurchase, agent satisfaction and reaching an agent, as well as a rise in customers who noted problems with Apple's call automation and wait time.

The results are in no way a death knell for Apple support, however, and the company remains the industry leader in offering a satisfying problem resolution experience.

[ View article on AppleInsider ]
post #2 of 48
Apple is doom
post #3 of 48
As the platform gets more and more successful and user base larger, this is the sort of thing to which Apple needs to pay close attention.

Invest some of your cash into more/better customer service, Apple.
post #4 of 48
I know nothing about Vocalabs* but this info as shown is enough to form an opinion on a trend, save them lying about the results in order to pander for free press.

Apple should be significantly higher than their competition because they have so many fewer models, sell much more expensive models, and also create the OS and drivers for the HW. I'd like to see this much higher next time.


* Is that pronounced Vocal-abs, Voca-labs, or Vocal-labs?

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post #5 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

I know nothing about Vocalabs* but this info as shown is enough to form an opinion on a trend, save them lying about the results in order to pander for free press.

Apple should be significantly higher than their competition because they have so many fewer models, sell much more expensive models, and also create the OS and drivers for the HW. I'd like to see this much higher next time.


* Is that pronounced Vocal-abs, Voca-labs, or Vocal-labs?

I'm gonna guess vocal labs...
post #6 of 48
That's been my experience. The last two times I went in with my Mac my experience has been poor. Not once do they ever call you for your appointment on time. They are worse than a doctor's office as far as keeping their appointments current.

The first time I took my MBP in to have them check my GPU since it's one of the bad NVidia ones on the MBP. The machine worked fine but I just wanted it checked. When I went to pick it up—they never called me—they said my motherboard was shot and needed to be replaced. Bullshit. It worked when I brought it. I took it, left and got it working at home by rebooting from the disk and repairing permissions.

The next time I took my MBA because a screw popped out. I bought the unit used from a reseller and the registration info was still showing her as the owner. The guy said he'd change it and call me when it was ready. A couple weeks passed and no call. I called and they said it was ready and they'd called and emailed—the old owner. When I went to get it they said they couldn't give it to me until they called her and when I told them the original guy knew the reseller and was supposed to change the info they finally let me have it. They did fix it for free because the hinge was a known issue so at least there was that.

I'm afraid to take anything there because I don't have a lot of faith in their capabilities. It may be because of Apple's incredible growth but the service in general is seriously lacking from what it was 5 or 10 years ago, at least in my experience.
post #7 of 48
I hate interactive voice response systems. I say, get rid of them, or at least minimize them GREATLYand leverage Siri/Nuance to improve what remains!
post #8 of 48
Just a wild guess, but this just MIGHT have to do with Apple's customer base exploding at an exponential rate in 2011 (ie. 40 million phones sold in 3 months) without the same rate of growth for Apple's support staff and resources. I mean, they sold more phones in 2011 than 2007,2008,2009, and 2010- COMBINED. Also, iPads are increasingly selling to the least tech literate people who I would expect to place more calls and need more support (ie. my grandma, aunt, etc). A rational, reasonable person would understand that this situation is to be expected, and is not necessarily completely Apple' fault. Hopefully they continue to pad their resources to deal with their insane demand and success.
post #9 of 48
Nice title.

Never mind the fact that Apple's "tech support quality" remains higher than anyone else's has ever been and that everyone else's has also declined, no, "Apple's tech support declines".

Are we letting slapppy write the articles now?!
post #10 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Nice title.

Never mind the fact that Apple's "tech support quality" remains higher than anyone else's has ever been and that everyone else's has also declined, no, "Apple's tech support declines".

Are we letting slapppy write the articles now?!

19 points vs 3 points is a big deal. What is the error on this poll? Usually +/- 3 points, essentially keeping the others the same while Apple still dropped significantly. Bottom line, when a company prides itself in customer service, this is significant and they should really look into it, which I am sure they will.
post #11 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hellacool View Post

19 points vs 3 points is a big deal.

Indeed, I was surprised by it.

Quote:
they should really look into it, which I am sure they will.

And then it turns out that the end of 1H 2010 was the breaking point for Apple's Tech Support on the number of times one can say, "No, sir/ma'am, your iPhone only has one speaker. This is normal. The other one is a microphone." in a single day.

Eventually they broke down into snarkiness and got worse reviews because of it.
post #12 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

Just a wild guess, but this just MIGHT have to do with Apple's customer base exploding at an exponential rate in 2011 (ie. 40 million phones sold in 3 months) without the same rate of growth for Apple's support staff and resources. I mean, they sold more phones in 2011 than 2007,2008,2009, and 2010- COMBINED. Also, iPads are increasingly selling to the least tech literate people who I would expect to place more calls and need more support (ie. my grandma, aunt, etc). A rational, reasonable person would understand that this situation is to be expected, and is not necessarily completely Apple' fault. Hopefully they continue to pad their resources to deal with their insane demand and success.

When someone pays a premium on a product, certain things are expected, great customer service is one of them. If that does not occur, very few people are going to be rational or reasonable. And yes, his is 100% Apples fault, they know how well their products sell, they will fix it.
post #13 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Indeed, I was surprised by it.



And then it turns out that the end of 1H 2010 was the breaking point for Apple's Tech Support on the number of times one can say, "No, sir/ma'am, your iPhone only has one speaker. This is normal. The other one is a microphone." in a single day.

Eventually they broke down into snarkiness and got worse reviews because of it.

Unfortunately Apple's "clientele" have degraded over the years so your analysts is spot on.
post #14 of 48
As a long, long time Apple user I have to agree that support has slipped in the past year - both phone and in-store support.

My sister purchased a new iMac before Christmas and the store wouldn't help her transfer data or even really set it up - they said they were busy at the time...

My neighbor just purchased a new Macbook Pro and she was told her old programs don't work under Lion (her hold Macbook ran 10.3), but didn't offer to help her migrate or even suggest that she could use Snow Leopard initially and then gradually upgrade her work flow to new programs. Instead they made her pay $99 for a year of Plus service (whatever that is) and told her to make an appointment with the Genius bar. She also lives an hour from the Apple store. So she has an appointment for Monday, but she happened to be in the area and wanted to see if they had a cancelation to get this done earlier (she had both computers in her car) and apparently when you call the store they can no longer even tell you over the phone if there are cancelations or not - its all done via iPhones or computer This is pure laziness on the part of the store clerk, as they should have been able to check this from any computer in the store and advise her.

I'm going over this weekend to help get her set up.

This is Apple feeling growing pains, and they better realize that they better focus back on the customer experience - if they don't then their growth problem will get solved on its own.
post #15 of 48
It could certainly be that the customer base is growing so fast that customer service is being overwhelmed. It's definitely something to watch for but Apple should be able to correct the problem whatever it is. Since Apple is the wealthiest company on the planet, the media is definitely going to look for every fault it can find so that Apple doesn't slack off. Apple will be under a microscope so critics can point out how poorly run Apple actually is and that its wealth and customer loyalty is undeserved and certainly no better than any other company. Apple certainly has enough money to hire and train good support people and hopefully they will. What is of significance is that the other companies who are selling less product are also letting their customer service quality slip. They should have lots of time on their hands when sales tail off.
post #16 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hellacool View Post

Unfortunately Apple's "clientele" have degraded over the years so your analysts is spot on.

Yes, and according to differing viewpoints, it could be said that their users have 'degraded'.

I was going to re-vouch for Apple users as a whole here, but there are just plain dumb people in every category of product ownership in every brand, so I guess it's a matter of perspective.
post #17 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Nice title.

Never mind the fact that Apple's "tech support quality" remains higher than anyone else's has ever been and that everyone else's has also declined, no, "Apple's tech support declines".

Are we letting slapppy write the articles now?!

Over the last few years I've gotten a real life education about the field of "journalism." In the tech world especially, personal biases show up in every article. Read some of Molly Wood's crap over at c|net. From how an article is titled to how facts and data are used to spin something in a particular direction, it is blatantly obvious that there is no such thing as objective, unbiased journalism anymore, if there ever was. And if this is the case in tech journalism then you know we have it in spades in the general media. Just look at the "ethical iPhone" petition and resulting Apple bashing. And in politics? Oy Vey!

I think the title "journalist" should be replaced by "advocate" because that's what's really going on.
post #18 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hellacool View Post

Unfortunately Apple's "clientele" have degraded over the years so your analysts is spot on.

I've been using Macs and all things Apple since the mid 80s and have yet to need to contact customer support about a problem. Exactly zero times, so I wouldn't know how good or bad they may be or if they are worse or better than before.

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post #19 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

Over the last few years I've gotten a real life education about the field of "journalism."

Journalism died in the early Nineties.
post #20 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post

... Apple certainly has enough money to hire and train good support people and hopefully they will. ...

This isn't a problem you can just throw money at. Part of the problem is that it's hard to get good support people who want to do, or keep doing it. If they are really good, chances are, support isn't what they want to do.
post #21 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Nice title.

Never mind the fact that Apple's "tech support quality" remains higher than anyone else's has ever been and that everyone else's has also declined, no, "Apple's tech support declines".

Are we letting slapppy write the articles now?!

How many different aliases does Teckstud actually have?

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post #22 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

How many different aliases does Teckstud actually have?

Is he still around? I always figured I unknowingly read about him on the Darwin Awards years ago.

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post #23 of 48
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Originally Posted by cvaldes1831 View Post

Journalism died in the early Nineties.

Journalism, of the sort you are referring to, was born and died in the Seventies.
post #24 of 48
Apple needs to fix this... Perception is reality (in this case).
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post #25 of 48
This could be a case of Apple being a victim of its own success. As iPhone and iPad sales have skyrocketed, and Mac sales have increased, perhaps Apple's infrastructure can't handle the load. Hopefully they right the ship.
post #26 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

How many different aliases does Teckstud actually have?

He was before my time, I think, but he had a dozen or so.

As slapppy's IP addresses don't match any of his or his incarnates, you'd have to go off of post content, writing style, and overall tone. And, as I said, since he was before my time, I've not taken the time to go back and read any of his posts to see if there is that similarity.
post #27 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

Apple needs to fix this... Perception is reality (in this case).

Siri? Ar you ready for PRIME TIME?
post #28 of 48
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Originally Posted by paxman View Post

Siri? Ar you ready for PRIME TIME?

That sounds like you're touching a great teaser ad emailer for a future event.

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post #29 of 48
It's not just because no. of customers increased. It's actually a combination of that plus a low priority of customer service within the company. This happens when a company grows quickly and people inside would feel like they don't need to improve customers service because "well people are buying, nothing to worry about" attitude takes over.

This will actually change when the growth start to slow and people inside start wondering "wth is going on?"
post #30 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by drobforever View Post

It's not just because no. of customers increased. It's actually a combination of that plus a low priority of customer service within the company. This happens when a company grows quickly and people inside would feel like they don't need to improve customers service because "well people are buying, nothing to worry about" attitude takes over.

This will actually change when the growth start to slow and people inside start wondering "wth is going on?"

I don't believe this is intentional...

It is easy to fall into the trap of concentrating on the supply and sales chains --- and disregard the support chain.

With proper top-level executive attention it is fixable.
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post #31 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

As the platform gets more and more successful and user base larger, this is the sort of thing to which Apple needs to pay close attention.

Invest some of your cash into more/better customer service, Apple.

This was just about phone service, which is often less satisfactory because either the user doesn't understand their computer etc well enough to follow the directions given or the problems needs hands on help. If we looked at service in stores the results might be very different.

course I question the validity of the survey given the number of folks in the time frame, that it reads that that was the total, not per company, how were they gathered etc.

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

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post #32 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by EMoeller View Post

My sister purchased a new iMac before Christmas and the store wouldn't help her transfer data or even really set it up - they said they were busy at the time...

if you are talking about the days literally right before Christmas then you should expect such a reply. They would be all hands on deck for sales. Hell they stopped doing any training appointments after 11am or even workshops that last week and a half, but do they give us an extension or even a warning about it. Nope, they just cut the availability and make the paying members deal with it. I certainly understood why given the noise and such but they could have sent out an email just to tell us what was happening as a curtesy.

Quote:
My neighbor just purchased a new Macbook Pro and she was told her old programs don't work under Lion (her hold Macbook ran 10.3), but didn't offer to help her migrate or even suggest that she could use Snow Leopard initially

if she JUST bought it then it has Lion on it. The firmware and drivers might not work under Snow Leopard, thus Apple probably doesn't support downgrading a system preloaded with Lion, thus they aren't going to suggest it.

And why, if she was buying the membership for the transfer didn't she just ask for a manager, and ask to return it. Why would she willingly keep a program she apparently can't use since she's not likely to drive an hour there and back for the training sessions.

If she's going to try to get them to help her at the Genius Bar with the transfer she might as well not bother. They aren't going to sit there for the hours and hours it could take to do it. She'll get 15 minutes, perhaps 20, and that's it. Especially considering that her old computer is way beyond what they generally support anyway cause if it's still running 10.3 it's way out of warranty.
[/QUOTE]

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post #33 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Nice title.

Never mind the fact that Apple's "tech support quality" remains higher than anyone else's has ever been and that everyone else's has also declined, no, "Apple's tech support declines".

Are we letting slapppy write the articles now?!

Seriously
Let's
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Piss-poor
Propaganda
Year-round
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That explains a considerable amount.

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Pot is legal in North Korea.
That explains a considerable amount.

"The United States will respond proportionally at a place and time we choose..."
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post #34 of 48
I only use chat support from companies that provide it. It is faster, more reliable, you get a transcript at the end, and you can continue about your business while waiting for responses. Phone support is so 20th century...
post #35 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by drobforever View Post

It's not just because no. of customers increased. It's actually a combination of that plus a low priority of customer service within the company. This happens when a company grows quickly and people inside would feel like they don't need to improve customers service because "well people are buying, nothing to worry about" attitude takes over.

This will actually change when the growth start to slow and people inside start wondering "wth is going on?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

I don't believe this is intentional...

It is easy to fall into the trap of concentrating on the supply and sales chains --- and disregard the support chain.

With proper top-level executive attention it is fixable.

Apple just hired a guy with a white hat to focus on this exact thing. "Nothing to bee afeared of ma'm, Dep'ty John Browett will take care of them thar owl-hoots."
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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post #36 of 48
All this poll really tells me is that HP, Dell, etc customer service has always sucked and remains crappy.

I've personally never had any problems with in store service in the UK or in California.
post #37 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

He was before my time, I think, but he had a dozen or so.

As slapppy's IP addresses don't match any of his or his incarnates, you'd have to go off of post content, writing style, and overall tone. And, as I said, since he was before my time, I've not taken the time to go back and read any of his posts to see if there is that similarity.

Oh you young whippersnappers, I've seen many of 'em. There was this one particular troll that really got my goat. Can't remember the name now, though.

I guess it's all part of the fun.

Whip it good, Tallest Skill!!!

PS slapppy doesn't seem to match any known MOs.
post #38 of 48
I hope Apple isn't as complacent about this as some of the posters here.
post #39 of 48
This demographic is to blame solely for the "customer satisfaction" slip.

Too many of them are complaining they can't type on their iPhone with long fingernails.

Others are disappointed when they can't find Solitaire on their new Apple PC.

Ha!

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post #40 of 48
I've always thought Apple's support was excellent especially with the Apple stores. Over Xmas though my HTC phone broke, which I thought was going to mean buying a new phone given that it's over a year old. But my first surprise was it has a 2 year warrenty, then after a simple call to the number that came with the phone (actually had a call center in my country to) they arranged for it to be picked up the next morning. 5 days later (which included christmas day) my phone was back and working normally again. Couldn't be happier with the service. Now traveling to an Apple store seems like a real hassle.
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