One thing is clear: Not only did he inspire CEOs, entrepreneurs, and consumers with his innovative thinking, but he opened up doors and lines of communication between these people through his particular approach to customer relations and customer satisfaction. Apparently, from 1997 – when he returned to Apple as CEO – to 2011, the company’s customer service scores rose steadily.
Here are some Jobs-inspired customer service lessons:
1) Answer customer questions and concerns, both privately and publicly. Steve Jobs was renowned for addressing consumer questions and complaints directly. Countless people have come out of the woodwork with tales of texts or phone calls that were supposedly from Jobs himself and helped convert them from complainers to Apple fans. The website “Emails from Steve Jobs” documents some of these replies. Consumers want to know that they are being heard, even if the answer to their question is “We are working on that.”
2) Pay attention to detail, even if you think you’re too busy to pay attention to detail. You will never regret fine-tuning your product or service so that the customer experience is that much better. Perhaps Vic Gundotra’s story about Jobs calling him on a Sunday to fix the yellow color in Google’s app logo is most representative of Jobs’ attention to detail.
3) Keep it simple. Don’t make things complicated for your customers. As Jobs proved to us over and over again, most recently with the iPhone and iPad, technology should be simple and streamlined. The best products and services are the ones that are user-friendly and make it easy for your customers to get help or find the answers themselves. If it takes too long for them to schedule an appointment or you have to spend an hour on the phone explaining something, then you probably need to take a step back and re-evaluate.
4) “Think Different.” This was not only the Apple campaign but also Jobs’ life motto. Thinking outside of the box should be the motto for everyone in customer service. Thinking differently enables us to connect with and reach more people. It’s what helps us understand where our customers are coming from and how we can change what we have to offer them to make their experience better. It’s what transforms customer service from good to great.