Understanding Stakeholder Needs: Battery Explosions and Customer Service
Unlike the recall of the Samsung company, Note 7 of two and a half million phones for battery explosions, Apple Inc. also had multiple battery explosions from as far back as 2013 to deal with. One example being back on August 20, 2013 when a consumers iPhone 4 had suddenly burst into flames. The consumer was able to contain the fire from spreading further in the matter of seconds, however Apple Inc. customer service wasn’t as ready or quickly to take care of the situation. When contacting Apple Inc., the consumer continuously got the runaround from their customer service department. He also was giving false information in regards for the fumes that were initially caused from the lithium battery and a refusal of an iPhone upgrade replacement.
According to Troy Wolverton, “Michael Kelly, a CEO of a small market research company, was walking through his home when he heard a loud pop, followed by a crackling sound, he looked over and saw his iPhone 4 engulfed in flames,” (Wolverton, 2013). Over the past six years other Apple products has caused similar incidents, some of which were caused by aftermarket battery and chargers. Although, Apple Inc. first concern should be for the consumer, it became more about the malfunction of the product and the consumers use and whether they had caused the problem by using aftermarket equipment with their Apple product.
Apple Inc. Stakeholders
• Internal: Employee/Staff, Suppliers Apple Inc. neglected to train their employee/staff with detecting a situation as the one noted above. This could have quickly developed into a costly crisis for Apple Inc. When customer service was communicating with the consumer, they should had been more understanding and compassionate with them. This would had put Apple Inc. in a better position with the consumer, allowing them both to be satisfied with the outcome. Without complete satisfaction from the consumer, it puts a strain on the company and impacts the overall success and reputation of the company. Whether or not this was a problem with one consumer or more, Apple Inc. should had handled it differently from the beginning.
• External: Consumer/Customers Apple’s customers are clearly concerned with the quality of their service as well as their products. They find it necessary and expect that the value of the product and service to always be worth the price of the product that they purchase from them. Effective communication with the consumer also ensures that they are important and respected from the company. This is critical and significant to the consumer and will leave them wanting to continue with building a positive opinion for the company and remain as one of their consumers.
Melissa Agnes states that “your frontline team needs to be trained and empowered to handle high-risk issues and crisis situations within minutes of them being brought to the organization’s attention,” (Agnes, 2013). She further mentions that “every customer or client is a stakeholder in your organization and valuing them with actions rather than words or inactions is a must, not just for them but for the reputation and bottom line of your organization,” (Agnes, 2013). As stated by W. Timothy Coombs and Sherry J. Holladay, “while crises are not necessarily a surprise to an organization, the moment of awareness by the majority of stakeholders that some incident has occurred is usually a surprised moment for the individual,” (Coombs and Holladay, 2012, p. 638).
Even though the consumers instant emotions from the explosion of their phone startled them, what took them by surprise was how a company that they were a longtime loyal customer of, treated them when reporting the incident. The consumer was not at fault nor should have received any negative response from the company. When the stakeholders feel that they’ve been mistreated or misguided with their expectations of a company, such as Apple Inc. did with this consumer, they tend to lose trust in the company and instead gain a resentment and a moral outrage for the company. If Apple Inc. customer service had just shown compassion and understanding to this consumer, then their response and the outcome to the incident wouldn’t had been as negative as it was.
Agnes, M. (2013, August 27). iPhone Fire: Apple Lacks Issues and Crisis Management. Retrieved from https://melissaagnes.com/iphone-fire-apple-lacks-appropriate-issues-and-crisis-management/
Coombs, W. T., & Holladay, S. J. (Eds.). (2012). The handbook of crisis communication. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. Wolverton, T. (2013, August 29). Local Man Burned up by Apple’s Response to iPhone Fire. Retrieved from http://www.siliconbeat.com/2013/08/29/local-man-burned-up-by-apples-response-to-iphone-fire/
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