Apple Vs. Microsoft: A Customer Service Exposé

Editor’s Note: This post was part of the Help Desk students’ Customer Service Analysis assignment. This post originally appeared on the blog of senior Caroline Akerley.

Apple Vs. Microsoft: A Customer Service Exposé

On Sunday, January 21, fellow Help Desk member Chandler Joyce and I ventured into the Burlington Mall in the hopes of exposing customer service pitfalls and triumphs in two opposing stores: Apple and Microsoft.


Our first stop was the Apple store. It was undoubtedly busy, with customers and workers bustling about. When we entered however, I was shocked to see that we were ignored by the “greeter.” We walked around the store aimlessly for a few minutesIMG_8347 without a single worker offering assistance. Even those who were not busy seemed to be ignoring us. Eventually, I approached a worker and asked if anyone was available to offer me advice and expertise on laptops. The employee that they sent over to assist was surprisingly helpful. He compared the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro side by side, giving us specific examples of the differences and benefits of each. He asked questions about what I wanted out of a laptop and what I planned to use it for. He asked where I am going to school next year and what I will be studying and he adjusted his recommendation based on my answers.

Not only did he explain the technical aspects of the laptops, he also detailed the advantages of AppleCare and the readily-available and well-versed customer service options in the case of issues or questions. I did, however, find that some of the terms he used were confusing, and I left the store feeling less confident in my knowledge of technology. Despite being confused by his use of jargon, he was very friendly and easy to talk to, and he knew the answers to all of my questions. He seemed disappointed that I did not make the decision to purchase a laptop on the spot, but he wished me luck in my search and shook my hand before I left. Overall, despite being initially ignored by employees, the customer service I was received was satisfactory.


After a short walk, Chandler and I arrived at the Microsoft Store. As soon as I took one step into the store, a friendly worker greeted me, and asked me what I was looking for. She advised me to browse around and ask if I had any questions. Another employee almost immediately approached me and offered help finding a laptop. He started our search by aIMG_8348sking what I wanted out of a laptop. Despite my inability to give him a definite indication, he asked several questions in order to prompt me to give him the information he needed to help me. I was very impressed by his genuine interest in my answers and assisting me in my search.

I was shown a much wider variety of products at Microsoft, which was overwhelming at first. The employee made a point, however, to take his time explaining the benefits of each product in order to make a more worthwhile recommendation to me. He understood that I was not looking to buy anything, and that what I needed from him was expertise and advice. I was especially impressed when he explained, in detail, what software I would need in order to use my laptop the way I want to. It was clear to me that he was not interested in convincing me to buy any of their products at that moment, but instead that he wanted to ensure that I had the knowledge I needed to make the right decision, no matter what that decision be. I was overall very pleased with the service I received.

One could not go wrong in purchasing products from either Apple or Microsoft. I will, however, say that I was slightly more impressed with the customer service I received at Microsoft. This could have simply been due to the Apple store being busier or possibly one uncharacteristically inattentive greeter. Regardless, I left both stores satisfied with the information that I was given, and would recommend either to anyone in need of technology advice.

Help Desk’s Commitment to Customer Service

Ms. Scheffer ensures that all Help Desk members know exactly how to treat our customers. As she has taught me, I use the helpful hint “WIRED” as a reminder. The first step, the “W”, stands for “welcome the customer.” After not having been welcomed at the Apple store, I realize that this is a necessary step in order to make the customer feel comfortable. A friendly and genuine greeting demonstrates that the worker is interested and excited to help. The “I” stands for “investigate the issue.” It is important to ask probing questions in order to fully understand the issue that the customer has. This is exactly what the Microsoft employee did. “R” stands for “resolve the issue.” The ultimate goal is to help either reach a solution, or give the customer the means and information to do so independently. The “E” stands for “encourage a return visit.” Customers should feel comfortable to return for any future questions or help, and also for recommendations or advice. The goal of Help Desk is not to just fix apps or help students connect to Wi-Fi; we would like to help customers utilize technology more efficiently and more often. The final letter, “D,” stands for “develop a relationship.” In the Microsoft store, I felt comfortable to ask the employees whatever I needed, and I would certainly return if I had further questions. We hope to do the same in Help Desk. After experiencing firsthand how varying degrees of customer service make a customer feel, I plan to apply my knowledge to Help Desk.


One thought on “Apple Vs. Microsoft: A Customer Service Exposé

  1. Hi Carol,

    Cass Smith here. Just wanted to say I’m a huge fan of your blog. You really talk about some great stuff. I’m a blog nerd myself so hope I get to talk to you some more soon 🙂

    ~ Cass

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