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All in one: Owning the experience is key to Apple's customer satisfaction

John Moltz | June 24, 2014
Owning its customers' experience has enabled Apple to have a leg up its competitors.

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If you regularly listen to Apple's quarterly conference call, Tim Cook's repeated use of the term "customer sat" for "customer satisfaction" is probably a well-worn square on your bingo card. Apple's customer satisfaction numbers are the envy of the technology world--and probably several other worlds--and Cook is rightly proud of that fact. Turns out owning your customer experience pays off. Who knew?

Well, Apple knew. That's why the company (cliché warning) "makes the whole widget." There was a time when that just meant making both the hardware and the operating system, but these days that's not enough. And at this month's Worldwide Developers Conference Apple showed it continues to look for opportunities to own the experience in the key services that users rely on heavily.

Serving many masters
In the Windows and Android worlds, ownership of the experience is a filthy scrum of competing interests.

Who do you contact when you have a problem with a Windows computer: Microsoft or the hardware manufacturer? It can be confusing, and each party can be quick to point the finger at the other. Microsoft doesn't completely own the desktop Windows experience, as Windows PC makers take the liberty of installing their own helpful wares in order to push their own services. (In the Common Speech of Middle-earth these are known as "crapware.") Buy a computer from HP, for example, and you get an HP Windows install disk with all HP's fabulous extras--whatever they are.

Now, if you live near a Microsoft store, you can buy a PC on which Microsoft does own the desktop experience: The devices the company sells in its own stores come with a clean installation of Windows, blessedly free of the meddling of those other vendors. Alternatively, you can bring in a PC and have Microsoft clean it up for you, even working with the hardware manufacturer on your behalf to solve problems.

For a fee.

That seems crazy to Mac users. But as a Windows user, one either lives with the crapware or pays Microsoft or a third party to clean it up--yes, that's right: clean up your brand new computer.

Android phones are similarly jacked up with crapware, often installed by not one but two parties: the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and the carrier. Oh, boy! Do I want to use Google's music service or Samsung's? Or maybe Verizon's? Man, if only I had bought a case with this phone maybe I'd have a fourth choice.

Of course, you can buy phones and tablets directly from Google, in which case they come with a vanilla Android install. (I don't think that's actually one of the OS version names, but who can keep track?)


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