Superb technical support for Apple's customers in the U.S. is helping to boost consumers' favorable opinion of the iconic device maker as well as increase the odds that customers would buy additional Apple products going forward, according to an NPD Group survey Tuesday.
"People tend to associate any type of tech support as a negative experience," said NPD Vice President Stephen Baker. "But Apple has demonstrated that those 'negatives' can be turned into positive brand experiences and result in a trip back to the store."
Baker noted that 60 percent of the survey's 2000-plus U.S.-based adult respondents indicated that their Apple tech support experience made it either somewhat or much more likely they would make another Apple product purchase in the future. What's more, 31 percent noted they had a more positive view of the Apple brand following their interactions with Apple's hardware support services.
"Tech support is a great service for the consumer, but more importantly it's a brand-building element for the retailer and manufacturer," Baker said.
Building Brand Awareness
Aside from Samsung's smartphone lineup, which was hit by a $1.05 billion jury verdict last week for infringing on Apple's patents, nothing else has approached Apple's success in selling electronic gadgets to U.S. consumers.
"Over the last seven quarters Apple has represented all the growth in consumer technology," Baker said in a recent blog post. "Without Apple the industry is solidly negative, with little momentum in the short term to change that."
The Genius Bar in Apple's retail stores nationwide is helping to give the company a significant edge over struggling retail outlet rivals such as Best Buy, which recently appointed a new CEO.
"Retailers are rediscovering the value that services can offer the consumer," Baker said.
Baker told us Wednesday that almost all of the 40 percent of Apple device owners who went to a Genius Bar for technical assistance left very happy. By contrast, "Top-2 box" satisfaction among all consumer service interactions -- in-store, via telephone or online -- was 78 percent.
"Top-2 box is standard methodology, meaning people who said they were satisfied or very satisfied -- the top 2 boxes of their satisfaction," Baker explained.
Free Tech Support
Due to robust online sales growth, store foot traffic has declined over the years -- leaving fewer and fewer in-person interactions, Baker said. However, physical presence is key to creating positive brand experiences.
According to NPD's survey, which was conducted in May, 53 percent of consumers were extremely satisfied with their in-store experience -- more so than any other type of service interaction.
"Having a strong tech support in-store model helps fill the transaction void and builds brand awareness and satisfaction," Baker said.
Nearly 90 percent of the survey respondents who said they had taken advantage of Apple's in-store tech service were extremely or very satisfied. Eighty-eight percent of the respondents who visited the Genius Bar at an Apple retail store were not charged for tech services. Moreover, 78 percent of U.S. consumers overall were not asked to pay any tech service fees.
NPD noted that 37 percent of the survey's respondents had requested troubleshooting support whereas 28 percent were in need of product repair services. Other NPD tech support survey categories included how-to support (18 percent), software installations and upgrades (11 percent), as well as product installation and set-up (7 percent).
Posted: 2012-08-29 @ 8:31pm PT
I live in Montana. Apple stores are few and far between, of course. My nearest store is 90 miles away.
I am not very satisfied with the existing personnel in that store. They seem very defensive when asked about particular problems. Even when getting info about new Apple products.