Martha Stewart vs. Apple: A Lesson In Social Customer Service and Missed Opportunities



“Come ON, Apple!”

This was my reaction, when I read the news about Martha Stewart’s broken iPad and her many tweets that ensued.  Read the article here (

I get that Apple wants to keep their PR close to the hip.  I get that they don’t want to play on social media because…well, they’re Apple.  But what frustrates me is that such a forward thinking company is still employing backwards methods when it comes to customer service.  Had a system been in place for monitoring these types of social interactions (especially from a notable Twitter account like Martha’s), Apple could have quickly addressed her issue and resolved it offline.

Instead, they brought a digital PR nightmare upon themselves when Martha tweeted the following:

The point I’m trying to make is not the obvious one: that Apple missed an opportunity here and could have done a better job of handling it.  Something tells me Apple will bounce back just fine after this social mishap…

The point I’m trying to make here is that your brand won’t.  

When people are talking about your brand, business or company and they’re doing it negatively, there is no reason for you to let those conversations permeate the social atmosphere breeding more negativity.  Unless you’re a prestigious business like Apple (and there aren’t many of those out there), it’s not only a missed opportunity, but it’s a message to your customer base that you just don’t care.  It could be detrimental to the growth of your brand, your image and therefore, your success.

What do you think? Did Apple handle it correctly? Do you monitor online conversations about you brand?

Caring is the New Business Model of Success

We live in an age where brands can’t fake it anymore. Among successful social media campaigns, the trend is a storytelling element that speaks to the voice of the brand. The slightest sense of BS is sniffed out and dismissed by the social media community. So I started thinking about companies that not only focus on profit margins, but actually prioritize the customer experience…and that’s when I saw the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

A quick synopsis of the movie: An 85-year-old sushi chef, considered the best sushi chef the world has ever known, has had the same routine for over 70 years. He is a man constantly perfecting his craft; a man that loves his work. The lengths Jiro and his employees go to create the best experience for their customers is the definition of ‘going the extra mile’. Everyday either Jiro, or one of his sons, goes to the fish market to find the best catch of the day.

Two things stand out during this process:

  • If Jiro does not find a fish to his liking he simply won’t buy a fish.
  • The fish vendors prefer to sell Jiro their fish not because he pays the most, but because of Jiro’s expertise and his respect for the fish. They know he will prepare the fish the way it was meant to be prepared.

In a scene where the director interviews a highly regarded rice vendor, who exclusively sells to Jiro, the rice vendor explains that he could have sold his rice to the Hyatt hotels but refused because they didn’t know how to cook it properly. The rice vendor valued trust and quality over profit.

The customization or personalization of customer service is a telling sign that the company cares about the overall customer experience. This is part of the recipe for a successful business model.

When Jiro serves sushi he pays attention to the hand the customer picks the sushi up with. He then serves the rest of the meal to your preferred hand. Jiro gives women slightly smaller pieces of sushi than that of men so everyone finishes their meal at the same time.

It’s Jiro’s focus on personalization that enhances his customer service, which in turn allows him to charge high prices.

The amount of discipline, dedication and attention to detail adds to the overarching story of Jiro’s sushi. Companies need to effectively storytell, consistently, over time, to build trust and loyalty with their customers. When a company best tells its story, that’s when the customers will be able to relate to a brand, and that’s when a company can charge higher prices. The customer will be willing to pay if the relationship is worth it.

“Once you decide on your occupation you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job, you must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success and the key to being regarded honorably. I’ve never once hated my job, I fell in love with my work and gave my life to it.” —Jiro Ono

What brands do you see effectively storytelling?

Do you think “caring” matters in business?

What brand who you relate to the most?