Fortunately, the Apple CEO quickly sensed the swell of bitterness–growing among its loyal customers–and jumped in to offer a $100 Apple credit to those that had previously coughed up $599 for the iPhone. In addition, those that had purchased an iPhone in the past 2 weeks would get a $200 refund.
Jobs’ actions appear to have calmed the reputation storm–although some customers still feel slighted–and demonstrate that not even a company that executes as smoothly as Apple, can avoid a reputation crisis. In fact, no company is ever able to fully predict and avoid a PR crisis–you just never know what customers will rebel against (just ask Facebook)–but how a company reacts is key to keeping your brand in a positive light.
Here’s what Apple did right…
A quick response – Steve Jobs announced the $100 credit within 24 hours, even though Apple hadn’t yet figured out how it would implement the credit.
An authentic message – Apple’s message came from its highest executive and was honest and transparent–Jobs admitted the screw-up while explaining that price reductions happen when buying new gadgets.
A decisive action – Steve Jobs didn’t waste precious time trying to negotiate with Apple’s customers. He listened to their complaints, assessed what their common concerns were, then made a decisive offer to those it had offended.
A reasonable concession – Apple managed to find a fair compromise between giving $200–which is what many customers wanted–and not giving anything at all–which was their original plan.
As a business, you can’t always predict a crisis–although you could argue that Apple should have seen this one coming–but you can prevent a ripple of discontent becoming a tidal wave of consumer revolt.
What do you think? Could Apple have done more? Was Steve Job’s response appropriate?