Having worked in the information technology sector for over a decade, you could say I’ve had my share of product experiences. From brands like Dell to HP to Apple and Samsung, I’ve unboxed and used everything from phones to large servers. And I can say that one company is head-and-shoulders above the others when it comes to the product experience.
It should be no surprise that Apple consistently gives the premium result. It does this not only in its tech, but also excels on down to its use of cardboard and foam.
My Apple Product Experience Story
Recently, unboxing a 27” iMac reminded me of this experience. Somehow, we came upon this giant-screened monolith during a sale. And Apple products very rarely go on sale.
As a tech guy, I know that an Apple iMac or MacBook Pro doesn’t necessarily have the latest and greatest cutting-edge hardware. In fact, I could point to a number of more powerful devices that are cheaper and sexier when it comes to components.
Yet, here I am willing to pay more for the product experience, specifically the experience of Apple’s OSX. The smoothness of the operating system is not the only reason I fork out the extra cash.
The Apple product experience undoubtedly extends to the quality and aesthetics of the device. Compare that sleek space grey or silver form factor to any other computer and you’ll be hard pressed to find prettier. Outside of a custom build job complete with obnoxious LEDs and a snazzy over-the-top water-coolant conveyance, there are few to zero better designs. It’s a complete package.
Product Experience: The Packaging
Surprisingly, though, the experience even reaches to the choice of cardboard and the level of thought devoted to the packaging. Who knew!?
Ever took a look at the new computer boxes at the local retailer? They’re generally pretty ho-hum with traditional cardboard colors, and maybe the occasional color brand image. Open these babies up and the inside is even worse, complete with afterthought cardboard retainers and sometimes confusing disassembly for opening.
Ever pulled that new monitor out and dropped the cables, or worse? That doesn’t happen with an Apple computer. The premium foam secures everything and the clear wrap keeps the power cord from falling. No twist ties here (bless you)!
How about just carrying the box in through the door? A 27” iMac is a breeze to get inside right down to the shiny black plastic handle you can use to carry it. No time is required to locate punch-in tabs or to try and navigate a doorframe with an extra-wide box.
And while that was still a big box, the slight trapezoidal shape cut down on the size. The practical choice not only differentiates the box, but it makes it more steady.
Sad-Face Product Experience
A few weeks ago, we opened some toys my sons received. After a good three or four minute battle to get the toy loose from its bonds, I couldn’t help but compare the experiences of these two products.
There really should be a limit on the amount of twist ties in a single box. And that is no commentary on the ties themselves, as they quickly shed a thin plastic overcoat. Unwrapping tangled twist ties for inpatient kids is already not fun, but it’s insult to injury when you get poked in the process.
It might not be fair to compare a computer to a child’s toy, but I can tell you I will avoid that brand in the future.
The product experience.
Because the frustration with opening the toy was much higher than it should have been. I could not locate any directions for product assembly. The difficulty of opening the product left me wondering if I had a factory defect or might need another tetanus shot.
The last few times I opened an Apple product, I recall discussions with coworkers on the enjoyment of the unboxing. Apple products are boxed consistent with how they are marketed. You’ll purchase them only from a cleanly designed website, their own cleanly designed stores or a cleanly designed kiosk within a large retail chain. And that’s perhaps after you catch one of their clean and modern ads or you’ve had the pleasure of using their devices before.
As someone who developed for iOS, this cleanliness extends to the development environment and to the consistency of the devices. If I view my code in one device, then I pretty much know what will happen in older ones as well as the newer devices.
All of this works together and Apple frankly charges more for it, but clearly people are willing to pay for it. Apple sells me on their story of trendy modern design, smooth operation, and clean lines. The entire product experience assures me that it will be easy and smooth.
The Details Matter
Personally, I never paid that much attention to boxes. I think you’re probably in the same boat. A box is good for identifying a brand and making sure you walk out with the correct product. Yet Apple wisely knows this is just another part of the total product experience of purchasing an Apple product. Shooting for excellence in something so tangential to their core product is just another way to underscore their domination of design.
Even if you have a service rather than a tangible good like a computer, you can make the entire service experience better. It might be refining your ordering process, shopping cart, shipping or follow up. If you’re like Apple and trying to carve out a a niche note based purely on price, it’s more than worth the time to examine the story that you’re telling your customers and prospects.
How can you improve your product experience or service experience? Comment below!