Learn from Apple: Reward the Congenial Wheel

What my iPad looked like in October, dropped from a 13-inch-high tabletop.

I love Twitter. But some days, “angry birds” (vexed Tweeters with axes to grind) clog my feed with their grousing: 

@Cantankerous: Waiting in line for 12 minutes at Home Depot. Why won’t they open another cash register? Aaaaargh!

Some of that is healthy venting. But, increasingly, another motivation has emerged: “If I bellow loudly enough, someone from the company will give me something.”

That’s too bad. Because there is another way, and once again Apple is leading the way: Reward the congenial wheel, not the squeaky one.

I accidentally dropped my iPad last October, shattering the glass. Rather than kvetching about Apple’s product quality on Facebook and Twitter, I went to an Apple store (on the advice of friends), with my tail between my legs, and humbly said:

“Man, I really screwed up. Can you help me?”

The Genius Bar specialist did. In fact—to my amazement—he replaced my broken iPad for free, even when he had no obligation to do so. And he did so graciously.

I later learned—and it was confirmed recently in this article—that Apple “geniuses” have that latitude. (Apparently, just once for every customer.) And it is totally at their individual discretion.

I had a similarly co-hospitable customer experience at my local branch of Chase this week. (And if you’ve ever read Mental Shavings, you know I don’t have warm feelings for banks.) 

I once commented here, mutedly, that marketers should start shifting advertising budgets to customer service. I’m ready to shout that sentiment now. Then everyone can be a congenial wheel.