Lessons from Apple on weathering mistakes.

By Amber Hudson and Luke Sklar 

I love Apple products.  We are Apple-ed up to the armpits at home.  They have changed music, wireless and computers for ever.  Steve Jobs is unquestionably a legend.

But enough with the Apple love-in!

With the recent criticism of the new Siri app, how much slack is the consumer willing to give when a brand continues to frustrate?  Oh yeah kids, I SO went there; I said Apple and frustrate in the same sentence.  Sacrilegious?  Hear me out:

Apple Newton – one of the first ever Personal Digital Assistants (PDA).  The main feature was its handwriting recognition capability.   But it got mixed reviews, was often inaccurate and was ultimately discontinued in the late 90’s.

Antenna on the iPhone 4 – remember this fiasco?  Steve Jobs’ response was rather arrogant and he had to back track.

Customer service is hit or miss.  And the chaos that’s the Apple store…don’t get me started.

And now it’s Siri, the vaunted killer app that’s underwhelming many.  Here’s a great article on gizmodo.com where Siri is put to the test.  I did my own test asking Siri to convert 1 kg to lbs.  Sure, she’s got a lovely voice but she couldn’t do what I thought was a simple request.  And from Apple I certainly expect more.  Aren’t THEY the ones that have created the expectation for perfection?

Taking a bit of a detour, here is an ad by Samsung taking pot shots at Apple.  Hilarious.

Okay, despite all this and the fact that there’s a bit of dominatrix in Apple, the brand has miles of slack their fans are willing to give. But will it run out? Remember the 3 Times Rule: you can screw up 3 times before your fans turn on you.  We expect Apple may get twice as many chances.  We’ll be watching.

The question for your brand is does it have a deep and wide reservoir of goodwill?  Great brands are like a great friend:  you trust and accept them, faults and all.  And you are willing to over-look their mistakes.  Look at Ford, McDonald’s, Starbucks – they are so trusted they can shoot themselves in the foot and come out stronger than ever.  What about Coke and their current white-can mess?  We’re all laughing, but they’ll recover too.  This time.

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