The Apple Way of Connecting With Customers

Apple’s undeniable success in creating one of the world’s most fiercely loyal customer bases is a testament to the power of building connections through human-centered marketing. Over the years, the company has managed to consistently attract new buyers and turn them into raving fans, all the while consolidating one of the world’s most recognizable brands.

How Does Apple Communicate with Their Customers?

Apple has mastered the art of seamless communication thanks to their commitment to engage with their customers through multiple channels. Their marketing strategy utilizes live chat, email, phone, Twitter (now X), and, up until October 2023, a dedicated YouTube support channel. They also have an Apple support app called Tips, which, as the name suggests, provides users with practical tips, insights, and recommendations about their products. Apple’s omnichannel approach has a high satisfaction rate. Companies that adopt similar strategies retain about 89% of their customers, probably because nearly all consumers consider an immediate response essential or very important when they have a sales, marketing, or customer service issue.

That being said, unlike practically every other large tech company around, Apple spent years unwilling to expand their customer service into the world of social media, providing answers and support exclusively through their website and in-person consultations. That all changed in 2016, though, when Apple finally decided to open a line of communication right where their customers are spending most of their time: social media. Leveraging social media platforms like Twitter/X, TikTok, and Instagram not only allows for direct and real-time interaction with customers, but also opens up avenues for community building and instant feedback – both vital components for businesses in any industry. Apple’s customer support X account offers key takeaways that healthcare businesses can apply even with only a fraction of Apple’s brand recognition and marketing budget.

Why Apple Changed Their Mind

Apple built its reputation by breaking the rules and flaunting conventions around how they were “supposed” to handle marketing and business. Even though all the other tech companies were expanding aggressively into social media, Apple refused to be swayed by the latest hot trend. As Steve Jobs famously said in 1983, “It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the navy.” That’s why their March 2016 announcement, when they finally revealed they were launching an official Apple Support X account, came as such a shock. This wasn’t a lightly made decision. After all this time, Apple recognized the value of giving their customers what they had grown to expect: a social media channel to discuss customer support issues.

How Apple Uses X (Formerly Twitter) to Market and Build Lasting Relationships

In the first two months since its launch, Apple Support’s X profile grew from zero to almost 300,000 followers. In 2023, the account has over 1.5 million followers and more than one million replies. In addition to their massive brand recognition, which currently stands at 92% in the United States alone, Apple has encouraged this incredible growth by using simple and sustainable strategies – strategies you can take and run with in your healthcare business.

Here’s how they’re doing it:

Posting a Tip a Day

A pillar of Apple’s X marketing strategy is to post one tip each day. These tips make customers appreciate their Apple products even more because they help them discover features they might not have known about. They also get people in the habit of engaging with the X account regularly. Apple often presents these tips with images or short videos, which are easy for people to consume and share across their own social media networks. These daily tips help anyone who owns Apple products—even if they aren’t proactively looking for help. And for those who don’t own products yet, the tips might just spark their curiosity (and maybe a little bit of FOMO) to check out what they’re missing. Apple shows that they aren’t just concerned with making the sale. They’re interested in helping current and potential customers tap into their products’ full potential… and hopefully become Apple’s loyal customers for life. This is a powerful customer retention

Constantly Answering Customer Questions

While the Apple Support account posts tips and tricks, most of their effort is spent helping customers sort out issues with their Apple products and services. Simply answering customer questions makes up the vast majority (probably 99%) of their tweets. Combining these two things (posting their own content and answering questions that come in) is a smart way to do outbound marketing without neglecting two of the most important things: customer relationships and customer experience. The support account also opens up a convenient communication channel for customers. Instead of calling or visiting Apple stores, they can get things handled just by firing off a tweet!

Being Solution-Focused

Apple understands that customer service can be emotional, and people can sometimes be frustrated or angry with their Apple devices. That’s why they take a solution-based approach to customer support.This approach is particularly effective on social media platforms like X, where customers are often looking for a quick resolution to their problem. By providing relevant resources and offering personalized assistance, they demonstrate that they value their customers’ time and are committed to resolving their issues in a timely manner. Their solution-based approach in customer service also helps reduce customer frustration and increase satisfaction. When customers see that their problems are being actively addressed and resolved, they feel more confident in the company’s ability to provide quality products and services.

Valuing Every Kind of Feedback

The Apple Support account embraces all kinds of feedback: good, bad, and everything in between. By acknowledging people who compliment them and working quickly to solve any gripes, they make everyone feel valued. This helps encourage valuable feedback and builds lasting relationships with customers. On the other hand, they also know that negative feedback provides businesses with a unique lens to view areas with room for improvement. When customers express their discontent, it serves as an opportunity to gain valuable insights into the shortcomings of a product, service, or the overall customer experience.

Communicating in a Positive, Upbeat Way

When Apple finally started an X account, they channeled the same helpful voice you’d expect to find if you stopped by the Genius Bar or called their customer support.

In this way their reputation for outstanding customer support expanded seamlessly into a new channel. Apple has invested considerable money and effort in creating a comprehensive system for managing customer interactions. They recognize that the way employees engage with customers is just as important as the products and services they offer. That’s why, during employee training, Apple not only focuses on technical knowledge but also on coaching workers in the nuances of customer interactions. For example, Apple Geniuses undergo in-depth sessions encouraging them to take the necessary time with customers and create genuine connections beyond the transactional exchange. Unlike traditional sales-focused approaches, Apple’s training manuals explicitly outline the significance of creating positive and lasting impressions through authentic engagement. The company understands that each interaction is an opportunity not just to meet but also to exceed customer expectations. Apple employees are motivated to approach conversations with a friendly demeanor, making customers feel heard and valued. Online, every customer response tweet acknowledges the problem, expresses a desire to help, and quickly points people in the right direction. This approach is not just a marketing tactic, but a reflection of the company’s brand and its commitment to delivering a reliable and satisfying customer experience. Positive interactions on X further strengthen the bond between Apple and its customers, fostering brand loyalty.

Bonus: Taking Apple’s ‘Insanely Great’ In-Store Experience Online

What is the customer perception of Apple?

Well, if you’ve ever set foot in an Apple store, you know that their in-store experience is nothing short of legendary. Marked by Steve Jobs’ commitment to enriching lives through “insanely great” experiences, the company has elevated the customer experience with its A-P-P-L-E five steps of service.

Their formula is a simple-yet-effective blueprint that you can apply to your healthcare marketing efforts to create a better customer experience and encourage clients to come back again and again:

A – Approach with a Personalized Welcome: Create a more personalized customer experience by tailoring greetings in email newsletters, offering user-centric navigation on your website, and integrating responsive chatbots that can assist customers at any time of day. Make every visitor feel not just seen, but personally welcomed to an experience designed just for them.

P – Probe Politely for Customer Needs: Embrace the power of data to analyze user behavior and anticipate their needs and desires. Your website and social media accounts are a treasure trove of insights waiting to be unlocked. From search patterns to frequented pages, use this intel to fine-tune your offerings to match your existing and potential customer’s needs.

P – Present a Solution for Now: Gear your online presence towards immediate action. Just like Apple works hard to provide a swift customer service process across channels, streamline your digital platforms for quick solutions. For example, highlight the ease of scheduling an online consultation in a few clicks or provide direct pathways for users to address their needs promptly.

L – Listen and Resolve Issues: Actively monitor online discussions. Keep an eye on social media, reviews, and feedback channels. Respond quickly and genuinely — and don’t be afraid to apologize if something goes wrong. Turn problems into opportunities for top-notch customer service. A positive fix not only solves an issue but builds stronger trust.

E – End with a Fond Farewell: Extend your support beyond the transaction. Invite visitors to stay connected through loyalty programs, exclusive offers, or informative newsletters. Your aim is to transform a brief digital encounter into a lasting relationship.
See? The A-P-P-L-E formula isn’t just for tech devices or brick-and-mortar stores; with a little tweaking and creativity, it can help you elevate your social platforms into spaces where every click resonates with the promise of an “insanely great” customer experience.

How You Can Do It Too (Even on a Tight Budget)

Applying Apple’s X strategy to the healthcare industry is totally doable. You don’t need a ton of money to make it work. Just a little time and attention can help you build a competitive advantage out of your relationships with customers. Above all, keep your tweets focused on helping your customers. Most companies seem to start a X account and spend 100% of the time talking about their company’s products. You’ll get more traction (and increase your market share) by answering questions, responding to feedback, and doing everything you can to help meet consumer needs. You can mix in posts for content you create too. Using an automated social media posting service like Buffer will help you schedule these tweets beforehand. Combining these occasional tweets with plenty of customer support will help with outbound marketing and building relationships. If you’ve written blog posts or an FAQ page to answer common customer questions, you can use your X responses to link to the appropriate content, quickly helping solve problems while saving you time, just like Apple does. Take note: the more active you are, the more customer feedback you’ll see. This feedback can give you plenty of new ideas on how to improve your products and reach even more customers. Social media can seem intimidating… But it doesn’t need to be. Start small and work your way up. That’s exactly what Apple did.

Bottom line: You can get started with a very tight budget by setting aside a few minutes or an hour a day to answer questions, interact with your followers, and promote your business.

Your Turn

Amazing customer support makes for amazing marketing. It’s incredible how far you can get—just by setting aside some time every day to answer customers’ questions.There’s hardly a better way to show customers you’re committed to helping them, while generating valuable feedback, and building relationships that last. Doing it well doesn’t take Apple’s brand recognition or gigantic marketing budget, either.All it takes is a simple strategy and a X account! And of course, be sure to incorporate as much of these concepts as possible:

  • Customer-Centric Approach: Apple’s success is rooted in human-centered marketing, fostering fierce customer loyalty–even beyond their innovative products.
  • Multi-Channel Communication: Apple engages customers through various channels – live chat, email, phone, X (Formerly Twitter), and a dedicated YouTube.
  • Consistency Across Channels: They also maintain a consistent brand voice, response time, and interaction style for a unified customer experience.
  • X (Formerly Twitter) Strategy Highlights:
    • Daily Tips: Regularly shares product tips, enhancing customer engagement.
    • Solution-Focused Support: Addresses customer queries promptly, offering relevant resources and personalized assistance.
  • Feedback Valuation: Values all feedback, positive or negative, maintaining a positive communication style.
  • Employee Training Emphasis: Trains employees not just in technical knowledge but also in the nuances of genuine customer interactions.
  • In-Store Experience Blueprint: ‘A-P-P-L-E’ formula for in-store experiences applicable across industries off and online.
  • Budget-Friendly Strategy: Healthcare businesses can emulate Apple’s X strategy even on a tight budget by focusing on customer support, engagement, and providing quick solutions.
  • Key Success Factors: Prioritizing customer connections, adopting a solution-oriented approach, valuing feedback, and maintaining a consistent and positive brand presence.
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