I am an Apple fan, not just in terms of keeping track of what’s happening within the company but also actually buying its products and using them.
I bought an iPod during one of my visits to Hong Kong, when Apple was not even officially present in India (2007). The purchase was seamless, as the store manager, realizing my obvious discomfiture at using a ‘first of its kind’ product, helped me with setting up my Apple account as well as downloading a few songs! My iPod was up and running as I left the store!
When I upgraded from my Nokia E61i to an Apple iPhone 3GS in 2009, Apple products were officially present in India at iStores. The store manager simply took the Airtel sim card that I was already using, inserted the same in the iPhone and voila, the iPhone started ringing! He helped me with my Apple account and answered all my queries with aplomb. I could realise that the sales team was fully equipped and adequately trained to ensure a hassle-free transaction.
Circa 2011, and Apple launched it’s iPad in India. I was among the first customers in Jaipur to acquire the device. However, my purchase experience this time was different. Here is how!
- On purchase of the device, the store manager informed that I would need to acquire a 3G sim card for which the store didn’t have a tie up either with a service provider or with any of the service provider agents. It subsequently took me two days to procure a 3G sim!
- When I took the sim card to the iStore for a demo and installation, I was told that the device needed a smaller sim, while what I had in hand was a larger one! The sim card would simply not fit into the slot. I complained that I had not been informed about this requirement well in advance. The store manager adviced me not to panic and guided me to a distant market where I could get the sim literally ‘cut to size’! When I requested him to guide me to a shop nearby, he said they hadn’t tied up with any nearby shop to get this done!
- With some effort, I found a shop which had a device to cut the sim card to the appropriate size. Once done, I rushed to the iStore for installation. When the sim card was installed, we realised that the 3G service provider had missed the deadline to activate the sim! Disappointed at not being able to use the iPad for two days now, I returned home cursing the service provider.
- Next day in the afternoon, on getting the activation confirmation from the service provider, I switched on my iPad. What a pleasure it was watching those signal bars on the top left corner of the device! I immediately tried accessing a website and lo, there appeared a message that the iPad was not connected to the Internet!
- I banged my head troubleshooting for over an hour. Defeated, I called up the iStore to check what the problem was. The store manager informed that I had to key-in some information in the settings menu to get the Internet started, but wasn’t sure what the information was!
- He informed that one customer who was already using an iPad with a 3G sim card had visited the store that day and had alluded to that information. I requested him to talk to the customer and get the information as soon as possible. The store manager obliged and, based on the customer’s feedback, informed me to key in ‘bsnlnet’ at an appropriate place in the settings menu.
- I did the needful and finally, my iPad was up and running! However, this happened a full three days after my purchase of the device!
From the above transaction detail, it is clear that
- The iStore did not have complete information about key aspects of the sale of iPads
- The iStore lacked requisite skills to ensure customer satisfaction
- Non availability of tie-ups with 3G service providers or their agents ensured that all solutions could not be found under one roof, resulting in delayed installation.
IPad is a beautiful device. But lack of training to the sale people, their poor selling skills and non availability of connectivity solutions under one roof give a less than perfect buying experience, something which Apple could well avoid. Fodder for thought, Mr Steve Jobs?