My 2008 Apple Wishlist: Customer Lifecycle

As mentioned in my previous post, I’m compiling a wishlist for Apple for their 2008 efforts. It’s by no means comprehensive, strategic, or whatever else… just things that might make their products even better for users like me.

Or maybe just me.

Customer Lifecycle

I mentioned earlier that 3 folks in my family purchased a MacBook this year. In each case, Apple got some demographic information and an Apple ID set up. The great interest in detail shown in the registration and setup process, though, seems to have fallen by the wayside once anyone moves beyond the setup screens.

To improve this, I’d recommend (at the very least) a lightweight recommendations engine.

When I/they/any customer returns to the Apple online store, I am not recognized and greeted by name. My past purchase (likely the machine I’m using right now) or the machine I’ve listed in my profile isn’t shown with recommendations for what I might like to buy next. And when I go to look at Notebook Cases for that new MacBook laptop, the 110 results aren’t already filtered (though they can be if I look around the page a bit) to show me cases for just this laptop. Software targeted to the demographic info I supplied (and Mac I purchased) isn’t recommended or featured, either in the store or Downloads section. On the flip side, software that wouldn’t perform well on my machine isn’t flagged as such (with a potential upsell for more RAM or a new machine). Worse, though, when I come to the Support site to troubleshoot an issue I’m having with my machine/software package, I’m back to square one; I have to tell Apple (again) what machine and software setup I have. At the point when I’m least happy with Apple (due to whatever issue is plaguing me at the time), Apple pretends as if this was our first encounter.

In a way, it makes me picture Steve Jobs cocking his head to the side and saying, “I’m sorry… I don’t think we’ve met before. Have you heard about the exciting world of Mac?”

In a different and more accurate way, though, it makes me feel like Apple wanted all my information not to help me out, but rather for marketing (and/or maybe nefarious?) purposes. I’m under no illusions; I’m sure that’s exactly why its being collected. I’ve usually been OK with that with other companies, in fact. But Apple keeps inundating me with ads about the joys and ease of the Mac experience. About how they’re different from Microsoft and the Windows world. So much so that I start to expect it. I now expect them to Think Different. And then they go and forget my name (figuratively and, in some cases, literally)… even when I’m signed in.

In essence, Apple appears to rock at acquiring customers, but, to-date, has yet to capitalize on the rest of the lifecycle. And, they could do this with simple acts of remembrance… something computers are exceptionally good at doing. I willingly gave you my data. Now please, please use it.

For me.

(Ed. note: This is one of a several part series, already including .Mac coverage. Stay tuned for posts re: Address Book, User Profiles, and iPhone/iPod/iTunes.)


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