Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Odd Couple: ATT and Apple

I recently went to purchase an iPhone 3G here in lovely San Francisco. Walking toward the Apple store, I remembered that halfway between my office and the beautiful apple store at one stockton street is an AT&T store. I don't really need to go to the Apple store, I thought to myself. So instead I went through the glass doors at the corner of Market and 3rd and into customer hell.

The first thing I noticed was the grouchy sullen customers seated around the room -- perched is probably a better way to describe this as there wasn't really anywhere to sit. So they were leaning against displays, sitting on the ground... The second thing I noticed was the sullen AT&T employee with a clipboard who approached me.

"Hi, can I put you on the waiting list?" he asked.

"Uh... how long is the wait?"

"Only 20-30 minutes."

OK, so here I am, a live customer wanting to give them my money, and they want me to sit on the ground in their store for 20-30 minutes in order to have the privilege of buying something from them!? I said no thank you, turned around and walked right out again. Off to the Apple store a few more blocks down Market.

When I arrived at the Apple store it was buzzing with happy people. A smiling Apple employee was waiting at the front door here as well.

"How can I help you today?" he asked.

"I'd like to buy an iPhone 3G"

"I can bring it right to you - do you know what size and color you want?"

This is a company that actually wants my business. Too bad it is attached to one that doesn't. Like Oscar and Felix, you have to wonder (other than a script writer looking for gags) what makes these two companies able to even stand talking to each other much less trying to offer a joint customer experience.

When I happily walked back to my office, I had to stop at the AT&T store again and wave my new phone at the sullen AT&T employee with the clipboard. In the same amount of time that I would have been sitting on the floor of his horrible shop I had walked to the Apple store, had a great shopping experience, and walked back again.

Memo to AT&T executives -- could you PLEASE learn something from your partner Apple?

1 comment:

Keane said...

I'm planning on getting an iPhone in 09, so this post is extremely relevant to me. Thanks!