I bought my wife a new MacBook Air to replace the seven-year-old version she had been using. It was actually a little sad, because while that old one had definitely reached the end of its life, it was a great laptop. In fact, at the time, its design was cutting edge (in some cases literally). That said, the new version is better in every way.
Besides, it was finally time, so I ordered her a brand-new one. Why am I telling you this? Well, because it arrived today, and what happened next was both amazing and exactly what you'd expect from Apple. It's also a great lesson for every business, but we'll get to that in a minute.
Here's what happened:
Not more than 20 minutes after the FedEx man delivered the package and I had taken it to my office to begin setting it up for my wife, I received an email from Apple. Not just any email, but an "Explore your Mac with a specialist online" email.
Before I go too far, there are a lot of companies that have automated systems that keep track of when something is delivered. Amazon frequently sends me an email to let me know something has been left on the porch. Sometimes it even includes a photo of a brown Amazon Prime box sitting right there in front of the door. It's nice, especially since they no longer ring the bell, but we have a dog. No one approaches our house without our knowing.
This wasn't that kind of email. This was entirely different.
First, here's the most amazing about this email: the timing. It was sent so that I received it while I was setting the MacBook up. If I wanted to connect with someone to "dig into key features and apps," this email was an open invitation to do just that.
I'll admit, I'm at least partially amazed by the technology involved. I'm honestly not sure if the email was triggered by the delivery or by my setting up the laptop. It doesn't matter how, it just matters that someone thought enough to say, "Hey, we should offer this when people are setting up their Mac." None of those services offered in the email cost anything--it isn't a ploy to make more money--it's simply about the experience.
Second, I love that this email does something totally on-brand for Apple by inviting me to do all the things I might want to do right when I'm setting up a brand-new laptop. Not only is the timing perfect, but it's meeting a real need that I might have at that moment. It really is a brilliant way to use technology to meet a customer where they are and deliver exactly the right experience at exactly the right moment.
Jump back a few months ago, when I wrote about how Apple was recreating online the experience it offers in its stores. That's not easy, especially since one of the things people love so much about the Apple Store is the high-touch, personalized experience.
Anyone can come in and schedule a time to have someone walk them through their Mac, or to learn about Photos and GarageBand. Anyone can get help from a Genius when something doesn't work right.
Except, for a while, no one was going into Apple Stores--they were all closed. So Apple was offering those services and experiences online as much as possible. No, it's not exactly the same, but that isn't the point. The point is that Apple created a unique experience that translates into a world where people still want a personal touch, even when we're social distancing.
This email I got this afternoon recognizes two things: First, that people still are a lot less likely to go into an Apple Store. And second, that doesn't mean they don't value that high-touch experience. It's a part of Apple's brand promise.
That's what's such a genius lesson. Apple is delivering on that promise in a way that uses technology to create an incredible user experience. You know what? So can you.