Apple's iPad, iPhone, and Apple TV are changing the customer experience for the better

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2018
Apple's wide array of devices including iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs have become ubiquitous in our homes, but most customer-facing installations still rely on inadequate technology. AppleInsider talks to industry mavens to discuss the present and future of Apple's devices in customer service.

Square iPad-based POS
Square iPad-based POS


Think of the outdated interfaces found on hotel TVs, the aging handheld retail POS devices, or the uncomfortable experience of staying in a hospital room. These are three very real use cases where Apple devices have emerged as a game-changing solution to improve the customer experience.

Speaking during the annual Jamf Nation User Conference, several representatives from the industry have spoken to AppleInsider about how Apple devices are making an impact, why they chose them, and where they hope the customer experience goes in the future.

An elevated hotel experience

Red Lion Hotels, a quickly expanding chain that many may be unfamiliar with, is using an iOS app and Apple TVs to differentiate themselves with a more refined customer experience.

Red Lion Hotel Apple TV
Red Lion Hotel RL Apple TV interface


Apple TVs have started to be deployed to rooms in their Hotel RL brand properties. Instead of an antiquated TV guide, with obnoxious hotel landing pages that start when the TV is powered on, guests are treated to an experience very much like their own living room.

Using the Monscierge app and Jamf Pro as the device manager, the Apple TVs get pre-loaded with Hulu, Netflix, HBO, and Prime Video as well as several hotel-specific apps. Guests can now sign in directly with their own accounts and pick up watching their favorite shows right where they left off at home with no need to pay $40 for an on-demand movie. Apple's iOS 12 makes it easier for guests to enter their own credentials from saved iCloud passwords so they don't have to remember them.

All of the unique hotel apps offer additional functionality as well. Those apps include one for local recommendations, one for hotel features and accommodations, and one for hotel staff requests. They are immersive experiences full of rich imagery that is far more pleasant to interact with rather than the usual paper ones that litter hotel room desks and nightstands.

Requests such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, car service, etc can all be ordered directly from the TV. Local recommendations that are frequently updated and curated give guests a better idea of what to do. Hotel features show all the amenities the property has to offer.

Hotel RL Apple TV
Live TV on the Hotel RL Apple TV


Red Lion has partnered with Direct TV to bring the actual live TV experience into the Apple TV, rather than requiring the user to swap inputs.

From a device management perspective, once a guest checks out of the hotel, the Apple TV is automatically wiped. This removes all traces of the user's personal info so they don't even have to worry about signing out.

Hospitals need an upgrade

If you're ever in the unfortunate position to have an extended hospital stay, the in-room hospitality makes a bad situation worse. The TV is difficult to control or stuck on a terrible channel, you can't easily adjust the lights, the blinds, the temperature, or anything else without getting help.

UCSD Logo
University of California San Diego Health System


University of California San Diego Health Systems has made a huge change in the way they approach these in-room conveniences.

UCSD Health System's Marc Sylwestrzak, when speaking with AppleInsider, said that they had started to take cues from the hotel industry in how they treat their guests.

Guests each have an iPad in the room that is capable of controlling the lighting, climate, and television. That tablet is also loaded with the Epic Systems MyChart app that includes their records.

UCSD found that because it was loaded on the tablet, patients were twice as likely to access their medical records while bedside. This leads to better patient education, as as well as knowledge of what the next steps in recovery are.

After the tablets and Apple TV were initially rolled out, the most frequent complaint was the lack of Netflix availability. Responding to those complaints, UCSD has preloaded Netflix, neatly dealing with patient entertainment and distraction.

UCSD iPad with patient
UCSD patient using an iPad | Source: UCSD News Center


Again, especially with medical records involved, privacy is of the utmost concern. That's why every time a patient is discharged or transferred, the tablets are completely erased automatically. That amounts to 50 wipes per day in their initial rollout. Since this program was deployed, over 32 thousand automatic wipes have been carried out.

Sylwestrzak said that the initial deployment has been so successful, they've amped up the program, and have just deployed an additional 500 devices to three separate facilities.

Retail is leading the way

Retail is the arena that has already been embracing Apple devices with many adopting iPhones and iPods as replacements for handheld point-of-sale (POS) systems -- just like in Apple Stores.

Rituals, a luxury retail chain expanding across Europe and soon the US, has been exclusively using Apple products both at the point of sale, and behind the scenes. They are able to ship brand new, shrink-wrapped iPads, iPhones, and iPods to stores and have them automatically set up by employees thanks to using Jamf as the device management system.

In front of house, it allows them to ring out any purchase by any employee on the floor, rather than requiring them to wait in a long line.

Rituals
Rituals retail store


They've also used the iPod or iPhone combined with a Bluetooth skin analyzer to perform on the spot analysis of customers complexions so they can better recommend the best product for their skin type. Because iPhones and iPods are so versatile, they can be repurposed on the spot to be used as a POS when the busy season approaches.

When we asked Rituals' Joost van der Zwaan why they chose iOS devices over Android handsets, he said the choice was easy. There were way too many inconsistencies between Android devices to plan for, they performed worse, had a short life cycle, weren't as easy to deploy, and their employees weren't as familiar with them.

An evolving trend

Many of these trends aren't necessarily new. We've seen iOS devices used as POS systems, we've seen Apple TVs used in unique environments, but the trend overall seems to be gaining steam past small-scale deployments. Technology has been a difficult hurdle for brands to embrace, but as they do, when properly executed, the roll-outs separates one brand from the rest.

Technology implemented where we stay, shop, and even receive care has a profound impact on the experience customers have -- good or bad. When the implementation is bad, then it is a distraction. But, when used to knock out friction-points for customers, that boosts customer satisfaction, and can be a large driver of repeat business.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,530member
    Slowly but surely, one step at a time, Apple advances. First a toehold in the enterprise with IBM and SAP. Despite tech bloggers constant dismissal of the company and its products Apple keeps plugging away. Windows may still continue to dominate for a long time but now there is a legitimate alternative for the enterprise and small businesses. What a ride it’s been the last thirty years. Many here in the AI forums castigate Apple’s every move, criticizing and dismissing every hardware or software release, constantly focusing on the negative, lambasting Apple’s management team at every opportunity. But Apple just keeps moving forward. Meanwhile the knight in shining armor that was to vanquish Apple in the valuation race just dropped over 8% in after hours trading because of a miss. That would be Amazon of course, the company that was to first join and then quickly surpass Apple in the $1T club. 
    edited October 2018 radarthekatMisterKitchristopher126lolliverwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 2 of 11
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,210member
    Random comments:

    Nothing drives me more crazy when I see a large retail merchant (like Safeway) that has really poor PoS systems that don't integrate Apple Pay consistently. Most of the time now, it works. But it is still spotty. It's nuts.

    I've learned to really dislike the ATV Siri remote. I used to put up with it, but now I only use my ATV when what I want to do is not available via my Roku. Which is now very little.

    Seems like maybe Apple could compete with (or buy?) Square to offer a direct financial PoS system. 

    I'm not typing my iCloud credentials into a hotel infotainment system. Ever. Airplay from my iOS device to theirs? Maybe. 


    MisterKit
  • Reply 3 of 11
    lkrupp said:
    Slowly but surely, one step at a time, Apple advances. First a toehold in the enterprise with IBM and SAP. Despite tech bloggers constant dismissal of the company and its products Apple keeps plugging away. Windows may still continue to dominate for a long time but now there is a legitimate alternative for the enterprise and small businesses. What a ride it’s been the last thirty years. Many here in the AI forums castigate Apple’s every move, criticizing and dismissing every hardware or software release, constantly focusing on the negative, lambasting Apple’s management team at every opportunity. But Apple just keeps moving forward. Meanwhile the knight in shining armor that was to vanquish Apple in the valuation race just dropped over 8% in after hours trading because of a miss. That would be Amazon of course, the company that was to first join and then quickly surpass Apple in the $1T club. 
    Nice little synopsis (and critique)! :) 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 11
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,050member
    lkrupp said:
    That would be Amazon of course, the company that was to first join and then quickly surpass Apple in the $1T club. 
    Great comment, but I have to correct you here: Amazon hit $1T valuation briefly, but hasn’t returned to that position since. It has been around $900 billion the last month or so, more or less, until this most recent drop.
    watto_cobrakudu
  • Reply 5 of 11
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,050member
    eightzero said:
    I've learned to really dislike the ATV Siri remote. I used to put up with it, but now I only use my ATV when what I want to do is not available via my Roku. Which is now very little.
    You know you could use your iPhone as the Apple remote using the Apple TV remote app, right? (I’ve had no issues with my Apple Remote, other than losing it in the sofa cushions)
    lolliverwatto_cobrakudu
  • Reply 6 of 11
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,863member
    chasm said:
    eightzero said:
    I've learned to really dislike the ATV Siri remote. I used to put up with it, but now I only use my ATV when what I want to do is not available via my Roku. Which is now very little.
    You know you could use your iPhone as the Apple remote using the Apple TV remote app, right? (I’ve had no issues with my Apple Remote, other than losing it in the sofa cushions)
    Not a fan at all of the Apple TV remote hand feel. It’s like a greasy little sardine, but with no discernible difference between the head and tail. No problem with the functionality but the ergonomics are a cruel joke, especially if you have any visual impairments. Heck, they even put a faux Lightning connector port on the edge that doesn’t have a Lightning port to trick you into trying to push the charging cable into what looks like a hole but is really a plastic plug. For the most part Apple does a very good job with ergonomics and user experience, but there are instances where Apple imposes a whacko design decision on its customers and steadfastly refuses to respond to the waves of negative user feedback and fix the flaw. Several of Apple’s mouse designs fall into this category, as does the slim slimy cushion crevice seeking Apple TV remote. Nobody is perfect 100% of the time, and there’s no shame in admitting your mistakes, even when you’re Apple.
    edited October 2018 hagar
  • Reply 7 of 11
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,050member
    Incidentally, this was a nice article that shed some light into progress that is normally very underreported. Well done.
    Andrew_OSUwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 11
    Just dropped my atv remote, shutter the glass bottom side. Now it’s being held by super glue 
    hagar
  • Reply 9 of 11
    YvLyYvLy Posts: 72member
    dewme said:
    chasm said:
    .... Apple TV remote hand feel. It’s like a greasy little sardine, but with no discernible difference between the head and tail. ... the ergonomics are a cruel joke ....
    Yes, Yes, Yes!!! I totally agree!!
  • Reply 10 of 11
    One of my favorite things to watch on AppleTV is the screensaver. I wish they would add a few controls (fast forward, pause, etc) to the screensaver, and permit Apple Music to be played in the background. It would also be great if an Apple Park screensaver were added to the mix, in addition to a few major tourist attractions (Washington mall, Yellowstone geysers, San Antonio river walk and Alamo, Grand Canyon below-the-rim flyover, Mount Rushmore, Hawaiian volcanos, etc.).
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 11
    I'm an AppleTV fan. My kids and I use them every day. We have 2 gen4, 1 gen3, 1 gen2, and even a gen1. The Siri Remote is not my favorite, though. I've become used to it somewhat, but it's not as intuitive or stable as the aluminum remote from gen3. Siri does work pretty well, but the touch pad can be surprisingly erratic and sensitive. Even more odd is that the Apple trackpads are fantastic and I own/use several of them regularly. You'd think Apple would have the tech nailed for the remote. The phone/ipad as remote is also surprisingly poorly implemented IMHO. Though, I do like the option to use the iOS keyboard for text entry. Someone at Apple must have realized how painful it was to enter text with the remote. Personally, I'd like to see an iOS remote app (or even ship the AppleTV with an iPod touch with a custom ROM) that puts the icons and graphical buttons on the remote synced with the TV display. That way, I could launch Hulu on the AppleTV with a Hulu button on the remote. Wash, rinse, repeat for Netflix, Amazon, etc. It shouldn't really be that hard. In fact, they already have similar tech in the MBP Touch Bar. If they could make a remote based on that and then add in a way to view content information on the remote, that would be even cooler. Imagine seeing IMDB info and movie/show recommendations right on the remote while watching content on the TV. Tons of potential seemingly wasted. My $0.02, as ever.
    watto_cobra
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