Apple & the NFL: Customer Relations, the Right & Wrong Way

I’m first to admit that I know little-to-nothing about football other than to root for the Patriots as a Mass native, but who could ignore their call-confusion gaffe last week?

With disgruntled fans, owners, and players, the NFL still chose to ignore that the refs messed up. They were really saying, “We understand the game better than you, so can it.” Not something you say to die-hards.

Compare that to the other customer relations headline of last week: the disappointment of Apple Maps. Who knows if Tim Cook or his technology PR team wrote it, but Apple’s response to customer – and analyst – complaints was spot on. Here’s an excerpt:

“While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.

Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.”

Three quick lessons: Fess up to your shortcomings, communicate the plan for improvements and offer a short-term fix.

Few companies can create an absolutely perfect product – even Apple – but how they deal with customer concerns divides the field.