Is Tim Cook going to ruin Apple’s retail reputation?

A couple of interesting things have come this week. First, this tidbit from The NPD Group on how Apple’s excellent tech support is leading to repeat customers:

“People tend to associate any type of tech support as a negative experience, but Apple has demonstrated that those ‘negatives’ can be turned into positive brand experiences and result in a trip back to the store.”

Then, published this report on the disaster that John Browett has been since CEO Tim Cook hired him as Senior VP of Retail:

Last year when Cook became the permanent CEO, he hired Browett from UK-based Dixons to head the retail chain. Cook was apparently attracted by Browett’s like-minded focus on the more traditional concepts of retailing—logic and process leading to revenues and profits. With his new position as CEO and staffed with a revenue-focused Sr. VP, Cook naturally moved the retail operation in different directions, the sources say, resulting in last month’s staffing changes.

Ironically, Apple’s original retail mission was to re-invent retail, and it succeeded for the first 10 years. Now, sources lament, innovation in retail seems to be coming to an end. A source says, “Those that have come from other failed or failing retailers will be allowed to peddle their poor ideas at Apple, and tarnish what has been one of the single greatest retailers on the planet.”

The exposé is a must read, and the importance of Apple’s retail operations to its current success cannot be understated. Any decision by Tim Cook to emphasize profits over customer service would be an enormous mistake, and a tragic reversal of one of the most successful retail initiatives ever.

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