EMC, Apple and Customer Loyalty: Page 2

Posted December 17, 2008

Rob Enderle

Rob Enderle

(Page 2 of 2)

This was because he knows that people can be manipulated to increase their perception of a product's quality and that this belief can be enhanced by assuring a strong service experience, which in turn drives customer loyalty.

Apple has rules on product reviews that are more tightly controlled than any other vendor I cover and they will work aggressively to assure that those that speak positively about the company exceed the voice and reach of those that do not. Apple is unique in that they work more on the perception of high quality while focusing intensely on assuring that people discount negative experiences and thus create high NPS scores.

(NPS stands for Net Promoter Score and many firms have switched to this from just measuring quality because it is a better measure of what is important, loyalty.)

EMC Quality

EMC is not the marketing company Apple is and they are more reliant on metrics that measure quality and loyalty as a result. But where Apple focuses heavily on creating the impression of quality and gets to loyalty that way, EMC, partially because the storage industry has quality requirements higher than almost any other, puts a lot of effort into actually assuring against breakage, and then goes beyond that.

Like Apple, EMC knows that quality is subjective and that relationship is important. But because they are more of an enterprise relationship company than a marketing company they approach the problem differently. Rather than advertising and product presentation they focus on assuring relationships, increasing the ease of doing business, and putting resources generally on issues that customer surveys indicate are damaging loyalty. They thus assure against the risk of competitive displacement.

And like Apple, EMC realizes that any company can have a bad product or a bad employee but if the customer is loyal, that customer will realize the value of the relationship is greater than any one experience and will believe the company, in this case EMC, will make it right. This difference goes to the core difference between the companies' customer bases. Apple's approach can scale to large numbers of people but would be less successful with professional buyers, while EMC's works better between their smaller base of large companies and professional buyers.

Wrapping Up

Both Apple and EMC exemplify ways to assure customer loyalty and showcase the benefits of being able to assure this loyalty in terms of low customer churn, increasing customer acquisition, and often better margins.

The one bad practice is tying the process too closely to one individual, in this case Steve Jobs, who may now be irreplaceable and yet have to be replaced. Assuring an excellent process like these will survive any one person should be part of any plan. Other than that, both firms should be emulated. And for those still focusing just on customer quality surveys you should seriously think of switching to NPS and assuring the customers you have now are still with you this time next year. Those that don't may not be around either.

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Tags: Windows, EMC, IT, Apple, Dell

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