Corephone: a great example of the service ethos, customer experience and customer centricity! (Part I)

If your smartphone or iPad needs fixing then contact Spencer at corePhone

It is rare that I come across a person, a company, a business that has cracked the customer-centricity code.  It looks like Spencer and corePhone have done just that.  All you have to do is to take a look at the website (the entire design of it) and read the testimonials to get that Spencer / corePhone is a world apart when it comes to the customer experience they generate and the delight they engender in customers.  So if you have a broken smartphone or iPad then you should contact Spencer at corePhone (www.corephone.co.uk).

Have you noticed that smartphones have a design flaw?

Smartphones are easy to use & useful so they are heavily used.  In the process of using them we drop them and that is when we find out that smartphones have a serious design flaw: they are fragile, they don’t bounce.   Have you dropped your smartphone?  What thoughts/feelings did you experience?   I dropped my iPhone 4 and was shocked to find that the expensive case ‘fell apart’.  Yet, thankfully, it did that when it hit the ground and so my iPhone was ok.  I let out a sigh of relief as I was not looking forward to paying £400+ to get a new one.  Some of us are not that lucky.   Recently one of my colleagues dropped his iPhone, allow me to tell you his story using his words:

“We’ve all either seen it happen or had it happen to us…shiny iPhone one minute, a moment of clumsiness / butter fingers and the next minute it looks like this…

This is what happened to me today. I have no idea how it happened but I saw it all take place in slow motion and I was left cursing …. To make matters worse, my iPhone did have a bumper on it but as happens when you drop a piece of buttered toast on the floor, my iPhone landed face down……. I couldn’t even answer the phone when it rang as the cracked screen had affected it ‘touch screen ability’!….

Luckily sense prevailed and I left the screw drivers and claw hammer in the draw and Googled ‘iphone 4 cracked screen and Portsmouth’…..and bingo!! I came across a helpful chap called Spencer.

A quick phone call later he gave me his address and instructions to be there at 6:30pm (no earlier please as he has his tea at 6pm !). By 6:45pm I skipped out his front door £60 lighter but with what was effectively a new looking iPhone. All fixed, cleaned and shiny !

…… If you find yourself in a similar situation I cannot recommend Spencer enough. Whilst he’s an air traffic controller by day, he’s running a handy side line fixing iPads, Blackberrys, Nintendo’s, Camera’s, laptop screens etc.. by night.   A link to his site is below…probably worth book marking!  As I live local to him I’d be happy to hand deliver your broken item to him should you want me too!     Core Phone

Let’s take a closer look at Spencer / Corephone: testimonials to die for!

It is not often that I read that kind of review, that kind of delight, that kind of enthusiasm, that kind of advocacy.  So I took a look at the CorePhone website to see if my colleague’s experience was exceptional.  It is not.  I was totally blown away by the testimonials – specifically the way that Spencer  is treating his customers, how he is making them feel and the impact he is having on their lives.  Here are a selection of testimonials (I have highlighted what speaks to me by ‘bolding’):

I cannot start without saying how amazing this company is! My iPhone was smashed front and back and my home button was faulty after dropping the phone. Spencer replied quickly to my request of a repair and he offered me a next day service. In addition, he offered an amazing price for all jobs. When the repair was conducted, it was an amazing job, the phone looked brand new and Spencer even cleaned my earpiece and other ports out of courtesy. And even more amazing, it was fixed in 20 minutes! I would definitely use this service again and would recommend all to use corePhone for any iPhone repairs as the service you will receive is first class.     Gary Coldwell, Hampshire, March 2012

“Many thanks Spencer. It is nice to find such a genuine guy who could repair my iPhone. I texted Spencer to see if he could repair my iPhone. He texted me back and booked for the repair to be done Monday night. I waited for the repair to be done and could not believe how fiddly it was, but it was soon all put back together and looks like a new phone. Phone this guy; you cannot go wrong.    John Tucker, Titchfield, September 2011

“I would like everyone to know what a fantastic service spencer(corePhone) extended to me. I texted spencer at 7:40 am on Saturday and he replied straight away. I asked if he would take a look at my I phone 3G home button as it hadn’t worked properly for a while. He allowed me to come to his home at 8am and had my phone all fixed and ready to go by 8:15am !! Nice, friendly, quick & professional service is worth every penny,especially at Spencer’s fair rates. I recommend this service 100 %.    Jim, Pickfords Segensworth, January 2011

What can we learn from Spencer / corePhone?

The testimonials show that Spencer / corePhone create superior value for people who have damaged their smartphones.  Let’s take a closer look at this superior value.

Customer Insight

The central insight that corePhone is built upon is the understanding that customers are attached to their smartphones.  Smartphones break – especially the screens.  Getting these screens replaced through the high street retailers is both time consuming (long delays) and expensive.  Customers want a fast turnaround and more affordable repairs.

Value Proposition

The value proposition is what converts people with a problem into customers who reach out to you and buy from you.  So what is corePhone’s value proposition?  According to the website, “affordable iPhone repairs”.  Read through the testimonials and you will find that this is a compelling value proposition.  Customer after customers speaks about the fairness, the reasonableness, the affordability of the repairs when compared to Apple and other high street retailers.

The Customer Experience

It is the Customer Experience that generates delight, indifference, disappointment and/or anger.  It is the Customer Experience that generates advocacy, word our mouth recommendations, customer loyalty and repeat business. Why?  Because this is where you keep or break the bargain that you struck with the customer through your value proposition. This is the area that Spencer / corePhone excel in.

If you reach out to Spencer / corePhone then Spencer responds quickly even on a Saturday morning at 7:40am or Sunday when he is out shopping.  And Spencer fixes your iPhone quickly – one customer rang at 7:40 am Saturday, was at Spencer’s workshop at 8am (that day) and left delighted at 8:15.  That is the next clue:  Spencer fixes your iPhone quickly – seems to be between 15 minutes and a half-hour.  Furthermore, by the time the iPhone is handed to you it looks new, perfect.  Finally, it looks like Spencer does more than he has to (‘”cleaning out ear pieces and ports..”) and treats his customers well – his customers like him as a person not just as a professional.

In short, the Customer Experience exceeds the value proposition.  The value proposition only talks about affordability and sets that expectation.  The Customer Experience delivers that extra: responsiveness, speed of turnaround, the intimate contact – being with /watching Spencer fix your iPhone in front of your eyes!  What must it be like to see a master craftsmen open up your iPhone before your eyes and convert it from a wreck to a work of beauty?  And how many of us want to take a look inside our iPhone and see how it is put together?  This is all included in the Customer Experience!

Have you noticed that corePhone doesn’t have a loyalty or social media program to generate advocacy?

At a recent CMO dinner I asserted that companies that create superior value for customers through compelling value proposition/s and delightful customer experience do not have to pay the tax of customer loyalty.  Show me a company that has a loyalty program and I will show you a company that is selling ‘me too’ products, services, solutions.  Please notice that corePhone is not having to go out and bribe customers with customer loyalty and social gimmicks.  Why?  Because it is a strong value proposition and it delivers an amazing (wow!!) customer experience.

Part II coming next

Enough for today, in the next post I will take a look at the corePhone website, extract and share with you the lessons for building a website that works for customers.  Very few websites do that especially if they belong to a big company!


My Apple Customer Experience: how it turned sour and why I am not buying Apple products

Let’s set the context for this conversation

Before I dive into the heart of this post it is important that I take the time to set the context so that you can really listen to what I am speaking.  The taken for granted automatic way of existence for human beings can be captured by the following:

  • Right/Wrong – I am right, you are wrong;
  • Dominate/Avoid domination – I want to dominate you and I will resist your efforts to dominate me;
  • Justification/Invalidation – I will justify ‘myself’ and invalidate ‘you’;
  • Looking good/avoiding looking bad – I will strive to look good in your eyes and go to considerable lengths to avoid looking bad.

This is not the context for my writing this post – absolutely not. I am not seeking to look good.  I am not stating that I am right and someone else is wrong…… I simply wish to share my story and stand with you.

Some personal stuff that gives you an insight into me

Allow me to share two personal incidents with you that may help you to make sense of this post and the stand that I am taking.

Between the ages of sixteen and twenty two when I was in college and university I would go out frequently to nightclubs.  This was something that I did with my friends – the vast majority of who were male and my age.  I noticed something that disturbed me.  My friends treated the ‘other sex’ present in the nightclub as ‘prey’ to be hunted / toyed with or simply as ‘meat’.  I simply could not understand this.  Even today, I can remember thinking that the young women were someone’s daughter, someone’s sister.  And I remember asking myself the question: “How would I want my sister to be treated if she was at that night club?”  So at the nightclub I danced and sometimes I made friends – certainly I got plenty of compliments on my dancing.  My friends ‘hunted’ and I left them to it once I had shared my perspective on the situation – why I was refusing to play the game that so attracted to them.

I happened to be working and staying in Amsterdam – famous for its red light district.  I remember that the people I was working with got very excited about going to the Bannenbar (that is what I think it was called – it was a long time ago).  I was until I arrived at the front door and found out what went on inside.  Being young and male, one part of me was keen to go inside and see the spectacle (something I had never seen before).  The other part of me put the following to me: “It is the people who pay who make this kind of stuff possible.  Is this the kind of stuff that you want to see in the world?  Are you 100% sure that the people performing the acts have consented freely without ‘oppression’ to do this stuff?”  I could not be 100% sure and so I turned back much to the puzzlement of my work colleagues.

So you could say that I have a certain disposition when it comes to my fellow human beings and what I am willing and not willing to do.  I am not saying it is right nor am I saying it is wrong.  I am not saying it is good nor am I saying it is wrong.  I am simply saying that I noticed that which is so for me when it comes to what I am and am not prepared to do.

My relationship with Apple – customer and advocate until now

Here is who things stood until relatively recently as regards my ‘relationship’ with Apple:

  • I have written positively about Steve Jobs and Apple in this very blog;
  • I use an Apple iPhone 4 and have thoroughly enjoyed using it;
  • My brother has an Apple iPhone 4S and I played a big part in shaping his decision to buy the Apple iPhone – raving about how great it is;
  • I bought Apple iPods for my wife and children;
  • I influenced my nephews to buy Apple iPods and iPhones;
  • I enjoy using my brother-in-law’s Apple iPad;
  • I had set aside money to buy Apple’s iPad 3 expecting it to be released around the middle of this year – this is something me and my family have been looking forward to.

Why did I buy, use and recommend Apple products?   THe following quote from Jean-Dominique Bauby says it all for me and my relationship with Apple as it used to be:

“I need to feel strongly, to love and to admire, just as desperately as I need to breathe.” Jean-Dominique Bauby

All of that changed over the last 10 days or so.  Let’s look into that.

Why I Will Not Be Buying Apple Products

Now, every time I see and use my Apple iPhone4 I don’t love or admire Apple.  And I do not love and admire myself for buying Apple products!  Why not?  Because I care about my fellow human beings.  I care about my ‘brothers and sisters’) who are assembling these products.  Here is something that I read (amongst a lot of other stuff I read over the last two weeks) that has touched me deeply and turned delight into disgust and shame at being an Apple customer:

“On the other side of the world, a young girl is also swiping those screens. In fact, every day, during her 12+ hour shifts, six days a week, she repetitively swipes tens of thousands of them. She spends those hours inhaling n-hexane, a potent neurotoxin used to clean iPhone glass, because it dries a few seconds faster than a safe alternative. After just a few years on the line, she will be fired because the neurological damage from the n-hexane and the repetitive stress injuries to her wrists and hands make her unable to continue performing up to standard.”

Last weekend I went out to buy smartphones for my wife and my daughter.  I did not buy Apple.  I simply could not buy Apple.  I no longer see ‘beauty’ when I look at Apple products.  I see the ‘ugliness’ of human misery and the ‘spilling of blood’ for the sake of a few extra dollars of profit per Apple product.

Please understand that I am not making Apple wrong for this nor am I saying that Apple is the only company that contributes to this state of affairs.  I am not even saying this is ‘wrong’ – from a zen perspective everything is perfect just as it is and just as it is not.    So what am I saying?  I am saying that whilst Apple can play this game of ‘profits through human misery’ I have chosen to bring my part in that game to an end.  It is a game that does not leave me moved, touched, inspired, uplifted.  That is simply what is so for me.  If you are OK to continue to play the game that Apple has constructed and perpetuates (either through indifference, accident or deliberation) then that is perfectly ok – each of us has his/her own conscience to live with.

An invitation to put your humanity into action

If on the other hand you are more like more in that you do not want blood on your hands.  Or that you are moved, touched and inspired by the possibility of Apple being a brand that is great as it makes great products AND is a stand for the best of humanity (our caring, our reverence for life) then I invite you to sign the petition or learn more here.

I thank you for listening to my speaking.  And if you are one of ‘brothers and sisters’ in the Foxconn factories know that I am thinking of you and I care for you.  I know that I am not alone – there are many more of us who care about you and your humanity else there would be no articles by columnists, no posts by bloggers and no petitions.