The untimely death of Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple, has brought out many tributes and I would like to add mine. Steve Jobs ability to innovate new products, new user interfaces and new categories of products (combining the phone with portable music and PC type applications) has left its mark on the world. Jobs didn’t just incrementally improve products, he took major leaps. In the area of customer service, I believe Apple came up with a new innovative approach. While telephone support is the first line of support for most users with a concern or a question, if a technician needs to work on the machine to diagnose and fix the problem, Apple came up with a winning formula.

Luna Park, a theme park in Sydney, Australia, has implemented an application that integrates smart phones, bar code readers, photo taking devices, Facebook and email to provide a real time feed of what users are doing at the theme park to their Facebook friends plus a summary of the day. It’s called My Experience. During the day, there are posts to your friends on what rides you are taking and a picture of you on a ride and a score on how ‘daring’ you are. What is this? It’s a testimonial for the theme park. Indirectly, the act of posting a stream of actions taken by users is providing their friends word of mouth feedback using Facebook that they are having fun and after the fact, that they had fun, at Luna Park. Or they can send an email to their friends with a summary. Great word of mouth!

Sony and Apple have been hit with customer dissatisfaction recently: Apple for it location based data being stored on iPhones and iPads and Sony for its Playstation Network Data Breach. In each case, while the company responded to user concerns, they did so late, later than customers expected. During crisis situations, responsiveness is key to maintaining customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.

Mobile applications are starting to grow exponentially and allowing users to view complaints or compliments of businesses or products in new ways. Sitckybits allows users to scan a barcode or QR code and attach digital content (like complimentary reviews or complaints) to the code that can be viewed by others who scan the same code. Learn more about Stickybits.

Gatwick Airport is undergoing a major reconstruction project. Rather than unsightly wooden barriers, Gatwick has used the space to engage with users of the airport. On various construction locations, they have a supersized Barcode along with messages for users to scan the bar code on their cell phones and see how the station is being built. An application available for smart phones (iPhone and Android phones) will turn that picture into a link where users of the smart phone can access the Gatwick Discovery Tour. While this is an interesting adoption of new technology Gatwick inadvertently left out many travelers. Read why.

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