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The Multichannel Challenge

Apple Excels at Delivering a Crisp Multichannel Customer Experience

I'm one of "those" people. I love everything Apple. Not just its products. When it comes to its customer experience, I've found Apple's to be as well-designed as its cool tech toys.

When you enter an Apple Store, you walk into a wonderland of gadgetry. The layout is clean and simple. The staff is well trained and helpful. If you're there to make a purchase, they guide you to the product that's right for you. Recently, for example, one associate actually dissuaded me from purchasing a Macbook Air laptop and suggested a lower-priced Macbook more suited to my needs. If you're visiting for a repair, they do all they can to help—even suggesting an alternate resource if they can't solve the issue.

The call center offers a similar experience. A while back I called about a technical issue. I quickly reached a tech support associate who could help me with my specific problem. Not only did he walk me through the fix—assisted by a database that provided him with my computer's exact specifications based on its serial number—but he also suggested a product that would enhance my system. Yes, I bought it. Happily. It worked as he said, so it was a double win: satisfied customer whose intent to repurchase and likelihood to recommend increased; cost of service defrayed slightly by a purchase targeted to exactly what was needed, ensuring no further issues.

Apple's website, clean and user friendly, delivers an experience that matches its "live" channels. Product purchase pages step visitors through options to help select the right products; self-service is robust. Can't resolve your issue? Click to make an in-store appointment at the Genius Bar.

Seeing a trend here?

The beauty of Apple's multichannel customer experience lies in its customer focus, simplicity, and consistency. Customers know what they're going to get. It's Apple through and through.

The company doesn't leave that experience to chance—or to go stale—either. It follows up via email on both purchases and service interactions with a brief satisfaction survey. Here there's also consistency: Was the problem resolved to your satisfaction? Was the staff courteous and helpful? Would you shop Apple again? Recommend?

Even Apple's product packaging flows with the rest of the customer experience. As important a touchpoint as the store or website, the packaging is clean and simple; instructions are easy to follow. Opening a new Mac is like unwrapping a gift. It's as much a part of the magic of the experience as hitting the power key for the first time.

Whether an organization sells computers or cement, lamps or landscaping, a well-designed, multichannel customer experience is not only a competitive differentiator in today's hodgepodge of inconsistent experiences, it's also a necessity for the long term, as customers' ever-increasing expectations shift customer experience excellence from a nice thought to a must do.