45 years after, here are lessons Nigerian brands can take from Apple on customer retention

Loyalty is a feeling – the emotional bond that customers have towards a business. Make no mistake, this does not imply that it is the customer’s responsibility to be loyal to a business. It also doesn’t mean that clients stop doing business with brands because they are disloyal. However, loyalty is often a result of retention efforts. Without retention efforts, customers cannot have loyalty.

We do not need to say more about customer retention; we can just point you to the perfect model. What company enjoys the most customer loyalty? Apple, and the company is already 45 years old. Have you seen its major consumers? They are millions of excited young people all over the world.

It is the most valuable company in the world, and the first publicly traded US company to cross the trillion-dollar mark. Apple has launched several innovative products that have created new markets and attracted millions of customers. These include the Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Apple Watch, and other devices and accessories. 

There are many reasons why Apple enjoys brand loyalty, why it has won deep-rooted affection from millions. First, Apple products are simply beautiful. And simple is powerful. There is something wonderfully tactile about holding an Apple product. Its smooth curves, simple lines, minimalism, and seamless interaction appeal to many. Apple focuses on innovation so it is consistently able to produce unique hardware and software. The AirPods and Apple Watch are great recent examples of the company’s ability to innovate on the market. 

The company pays fantastic attention to detail. And this goes beyond the products, into the packaging and the experience that’s attached to them. The result of this is that buying and opening an Apple product is a sensory experience. By delivering a unique experience to its customers, Apple stands out. Apple also sells exclusivity. Before a new launch, Apple keeps all its exciting new secrets under wraps. The price of its new phones is sometimes double the cost of its competitor’s products. Yet, customers want to be seen with the latest product. They want to buy, unwrap and announce as soon as it is launched. 

However, the growth of this company is a result of obsessive customer service culture that has turned one-time buyers into customer advocates. Apple’s singular aim is to give its customers the best experience ever. Here are a few lessons from Apple’s customer service: 

–     Apple stores

Apple controls all aspects of its customer service – from the layout of the store to how employees interact with customers. You may not be familiar with Apple stores because there are none in Nigeria. However, Apple stores are a focal part of Apple’s customer experience. Before Steve Jobs took over in 1977, Apple computers were sold through chain stores and authorized deals. The company disposed of this model and began to open its stores. The downside of using third-party resellers is that it reduces some of your control over customer experience.

The first Apple store was built according to a specific design, split into three distinct sessions. The entrance of the store showcased Apple’s product line, broken down by target demographic. The center showed the many ways a person might use an apple product – music, movies, photos, and kids. The back of the hosted the “Genius Bar” – where customers got their products repaired and resolved customer service issues. This way, customers not only learn about products but also try them in the store. Within the store as well, customers can get their problems solved. 

Recently, Apple has been renovating or expanding dozens of its retail stores to take more space and be more appealing. As COVID-19 began its onslaught on the world in February 2020, Apple began to close its retail stores. By October however, the majority of stores in the U.S. and other countries were reopened with several health and safety precautions in place. Apple stores are important. The company opened the first on May 19, 2001, in Tysons, Virginia. By 2020, it had opened over 500 stores across 25 countries. At $5,546, Apple stores have the highest sales per square foot in the US retail market. They attract over 1 million customers worldwide per day.

–     Apple geniuses 

Apple is keen on leaving a positive impression on every customer. It understands that the best way to do this is by training staff. Indeed, if you expect your staff to provide good customer service, you would need to train them. Apple trains its sales teams on customer management and communication skills. The company has developed a system of training that is broadly based on an understanding of psychology and people skills. It has its guidebook, The Genius Training Student Workbook, which focuses on people skills. And the result of all this? High-quality customer service. Apple’s control of its customer experience has created a legion of fans and turned in surprising profits. 

How to retain customers 

Research by Deloitte and Touche found that customer-centric companies were 60% more profitable compared to companies that were not focused on the customer. Customer-obsessed companies prioritize quality over quantity, people over products. They direct their energy towards a long-term experience. They think less of the number of customers they have but rather on the kind of relationship, they have built with each one of them. They request customer feedback and deploy survey tools to know what customers think before they update protocol and policies. They analyze customer data to find trends, common issues, and pain points. Then they use these findings to improve their products, service, and experience.

To build a successful customer retention scheme, consider the following: first, build meaningful communication. This can only be achieved through maximized personalized communication. Particularly, Apple makes its message is simple and relatable. Retention efforts must be meaningful, memorable, and personal. Second, be a consistent communicator. With customer retention, it is consistency over quantity.

The more consistent you are in following up and maintaining relationships with your customers, the more likely they are to do business with you again. If you don’t stick around, customers will eventually forget you. Third, mind your customer loss. If you are losing customers, you would need to understand why. The easiest way to do this is to routinely solicit feedback. The question, “How can we better serve you?” will help you discover shortcomings.

Yet, Apple’s approach is a little different from Amazon’s – they do not base their products or service on customer needs, but on what customers’ experience after using the products. And Steve Jobs believed that customers do not even know the best or the exact. They do not know that they want something until you give it to them. This means that you are not only proactive but preemptive. 

He said, 

It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them. You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new. 

Can you predict the future? Way to go. 


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