What Apple's Latest Move Can Teach Us About Customer Experience

Screen Shot 2016-09-11 at 5.12.40 PMLast week Apple unveiled its new iPhone 7 to mixed reviews. Much of the conversation isn’t about what Apple added; rather it’s about what they removed: the 3.5mm audio jack. From a financial perspective, the technology giant’s stock price is down 5% since the announcement and analysts are blaming the lackluster product release. Amid all of this news, there are several customer experience lessons.

Blue Goldfish Lesson: Wireless is the future. Apple took a bold move by removing the 3.5mm audio jack. Many consumers dislike wires, but if asked if they wanted the jack removed, they’d likely say no. How was Apple to innovate if they kept the jack? Short answer: They couldn’t. Unlike many standalone products, Apple products are central to a larger ecosystem of accessories. Had Apple kept the 3.5mm jack, accessory manufacturers would continue making wired products.

Apple’s strong move toward wireless is a sign of things to come. Sure, wireless isn’t new. However, wireless is starting to offer performance that’s better than analog wired connections, of which the 3.5mm jack is one. Companies should take this as a sign that wireless isn’t just an option for convenience, it’s soon going to be the standard.

Purple Goldfish Lesson: You live or die by expectations. Apple came into the announcement with high expectations. Customers, analysts, and reporters were all trained by Apple to expect groundbreaking innovations at these product announcements. The iPhone 7, with the exception of the changes above, seems to be an incremental upgrade. Wait a minute? Two cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus? Waterproof to 1m and 30 minutes? These aren’t innovative features? To some extent they are, but why the lackluster reception? One word: Expectations. Apple has set expectations high, perhaps too high, and now they face the pressure of living up to those expectations multiple times a year.

Apple’s announcement and the resulting response should serve as a lesson to companies. Even the companies known for innovation and customer experience can fall short. You must constantly renew your customer expect not just to meet but to exceed ever-increasing customer expectations.

Today’s Lagniappe
Apple redefined advertising with its 1997 Think Different campaign. Steve Jobs unveiled the campaign at an internal meeting Sept. 23, 1997, just ten weeks after returning to Apple. You’ll hear about a renewed focus on the basics, quality, and innovation, which are the qualities we know and love about Apple today.

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