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THE INC. LIFE

Apple Just Issued This Apology for the iPhone Slowdown–It Offers a Valuable Lesson in Customer Service

Eventually every company will have to apologize for something–even if it’s not their fault. Apple shows us how to do it.

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BY Marla Tabaka - 02 Jan 2018

Apple Just Issued This Apology for the iPhone Slowdown--It Offers a Valuable Lesson in Customer Service

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Was it a deliberate act of sabotage? Did Apple secretly release a software update that would force iPhone users to upgrade their devices? Some believe that yes, it was a conspiracy, and that Apple intentionally pushed out an update that would slow your phone's performance and unexpectedly shut it down.

But in this public apology issued just last Thursday, Apple says the problem was hardly intentional. They say it was caused by minor bugs in the software update, which have since been resolved. They also state that the performance issue is compounded by chemical aging of the lithium ion batteries in older iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s devices.

While the integrity of Apple's secrecy culture may be considered questionable, there are many lessons for entrepreneurs in this public apology. There's a formula within it that may (but hopefully not) serve your company well in the future.

Apple affirmed the customer's feelings, and apologized for the part they played in the problem.

"We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize."

Simple and sweet. We get how you feel and we're sorry. And then they let customers know that they are taking action.

"There's been a lot of misunderstanding about this issue, so we would like to clarify and let you know about some changes we're making."

What's important to note here is that the company did not make excuses; they stated the facts and told us what they're going to do about it.

They offered assurance.

"First and foremost, we have never--and would never--do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades. Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that."

The author(s) segued from assuring the customers to getting on board with them by saying that, they too, believe the problem is unacceptable.

"It should go without saying that we think sudden, unexpected shutdowns are unacceptable. We don't want any of our users to lose a call, miss taking a picture or have any other part of their iPhone experience interrupted if we can avoid it."

Apple explained the cause and offered additional resources.

"All rechargeable batteries are consumable components that become less effective as they chemically age and their ability to hold a charge diminishes.

"A chemically aged battery also becomes less capable of delivering peak energy loads, especially in a low state of charge, which may result in a device unexpectedly shutting itself down in some situations."

For their tech-minded customers, the company added a resource and further support for the problem.

"To help customers learn more about iPhone's rechargeable battery and the factors affecting its performance, we've posted a new support article, iPhone Battery and Performance."

The authors offered a solution with a timeframe.

The company didn't stop at the apology, they promised to make up for the part they played in the problem by reducing the price of an out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacement. In 2018 you'll pay $29, rather than $79, if your iPhone 6 or later battery needs to be replaced.

What's the timeframe and where do we learn more?

"Starting in late January and available worldwide through December 2018. Details will be provided soon on apple.com."

In addition, the company says they will issue an iOS software update with new features that give users more visibility into the health of their iPhone's battery, so they can see for themselves if its condition is affecting performance.

Lastly, Apple wisely revisited the company values and again expressed appreciation to the customer.

"At Apple, our customers' trust means everything to us. We will never stop working to earn and maintain it. We are able to do the work we love only because of your faith and support--and we will never forget that or take it for granted."

Whether or not you're a fan, you can see that Apple took everything into consideration in this well-formed apology. If you're a business owner, it's inevitable that you'll be issuing an apology to your customers one day. This is a perfect example of how to do it.

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