How Steve Jobs and Tim Cook (plus 10 other CEOs) responded to customer complaint emails

“Recently, I bought an electric lawnmower at the local big-box store,” Bill Murphy Jr. reports for Inc. “Unfortunately, it was dead on arrival, and let’s just say I wasn’t blown away by the manufacturer’s customer service department. So, after a few hours of frustration, I sent an email to the CEO of the multibillion-dollar company explaining briefly what had happened.”

“The result? A day or two later, I was on the phone with the vice president of product development. He wound up sending me a few hundred dollars’ worth of free lawn equipment, and assured me he was changing a policy in the company’s customer service department as a result of my experience,” Murphy Jr. reports. “Maybe I’m just a persuasive guy, but I have to credit a strategy I call the Jeff Bezos question-mark method, based on a story in Brad Stone’s book The Everything Store about how Bezos sometimes reacts when he receives customer complaint emails at Amazon.”

“I’m a huge fan of this strategy,” Murphy Jr. reports. “I’ve also compiled dozens of examples of ordinary customers who employed it — or at least a similar strategy — with great results, by taking their complaints directly to the CEOs of the world’s biggest companies.”

1. Steve Jobs, the late CEO of Apple: Years ago, Aaron Booker writes, he bought a 15-inch MacBook Pro and a 22-inch monitor, and was surprised to realize he wasn’t eligible for a discount on AppleCare that would have applied if he’d bought another, similarly priced computer. So Booker wrote ‘a very brief email’ directly to Steve Jobs (then: and got a three-word response from the legendary CEO: ‘We’ll fix this.’ ‘The next day I got a call from one of Steve’s assistants,’ Booker writes. ‘Problem solved.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Have you ever emailed a complaint to a CEO? If so, what, if anything, happened?/blockquote>


    1. Sent two emails to Tim Cook, no reply whatsoever. My son, a 29 year old, 10 year retail Genius with rave reviews from his management could not get time of day from Corporate HR nor the Portland store he wanted to transfer to. Always referred to online app process (8 times) which was a black hole. He finally had to walk out the door to be with his financé in Portland, working for a different company.

      Yes Apple wants engineering and C-Suite talent but the retail staff are not well served by current corporate management, just let them walk seems to be their attitude.

      1. I have written twice to Tim Cook, as well. One email was more commentary and I didn’t expect a response, but the other was a “screw-up” at an Apple retail store that ended up costing me something that should have been free. I expected SOMETHING even if just a “I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is” from one of his subordinates. Instead, nothing.

    2. I emailed Steve jobs asking for a favor, he immediately responded, and did the favor. follow up was handled by his assistants, and I got the feeling that apple didn’t want to publicize it, so it never really was.

  1. Usually nobody responds. It depends on the culture of the company. Does the CEO or company actually care whatsoever about the customer? Most of the time they don’t, and won’t care or respond. Sometimes I’ve even heard of CEO’s threatening customers not to contact them again. (I think one of those stories I heard was about AT&T’s CEO but I could be wrong.)

  2. That works. Not always. But it works. Years ago I wanted to teach English in Japan. I wrote to the nearest Japanese consulate in Chicago. No answer. I wrote to another consulate office (New Orleans). No answer. I wrote to the Japanese embassy in Washington DC. No answer. I wrote to the Prime Minister of Japan in Tokyo, explained that I received no answer from three earlier inquiries. A week later I received a FedEx package with all the materials I needed to get a teacher’s visa.

  3. I emailed Steve Jobs. Wasn’t a complaint..was short and direct..thanks for pulling us out of the PC dark ages.

    I was invited to join the Appleseed developer program a week later.

  4. First gen AppleTv I gave my father had horrible connection issues with his Windows box. I emailed Tim Cook letting him know. Next day, an executive assistant contacted me. I put them in touch with my Dad and for good couple of weeks, they’d call either him or me. The next update resolved all issues he was having.

  5. Steve Jobs – Many of times and responses. Believe where Time Machine came from and a few other things.
    Tim Cook – Same – iCloud Drive for one
    Sal Soghoian – Our talk is where Automator came from
    Senior Apple Rep – Firmware Bug fixed for PowerMac G5 with some extra gifts.
    Airwatch CEO – Paid for our tickets to their yearly event and our hotel room for two of us.
    Home Depot – Got a 30gallon compressor at $75 after store manager cheated me out of it.

  6. I wrote an email to Tim Cook as my iPhone was said it was not eligible for the then upgrade cycle but in fact was. 30min later I received a call from a Database admin and he wanted me to verify the issue was fixed, which it was. I can honestly say I was astounded and have to say this level of customer service was extraordinary. I have nothing but extreme high regards for Apple and Mr. Tim Cook.

  7. In my opinion, if you need to write to the CEO, then there is something wrong with the company and it’s customer service. A large company ought to have a person or a small department to handle the more difficult customer device cases. And the base level customer service reps ought to know when to elevate an issue.

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