This is a sidebar toThe Steve Jobs Standard.
It was about the simplest shopping list one could imagine: an audio cable to connect my iPod to the Bose stereo in the family room.
My search on the online Apple Store yielded only the Apple Composite AV Cable. This allows you to connect an iPod to your television, to show off videos or photos. But it “you can also connect the Composite AV Cable to your stereo or powered speakers for a room-filling audio experience.”
But this piece of wiring (which also has a USB connector) cost $50. Sure, it had a cool white look to match the iPod itself. But it’s a cable. To just connect an iPod to a stereo, surely one could do better.
Explaining the need at a local Radio Shack store yielded a faulty answer. Even though I explained that I was just looking for an audio cable, the salesperson fastened onto the fact that I had previously looked at the Apple Composite AV Cable, which was on his wall rack, as well. He went off on a tangent, saying that he could find a video cable for a camcorder that should work as well, with some tweaking if I had the technical chops.
Instead, I pointed to the iCable from Monster that was hanging next to the Apple Composite AV Cable on his wall.
That works, he said, but only for audio. Bingo, guy. That’s what I said I was looking for.
So I said, I’d come back later.
I would visit a physical Apple Store later that day. My sister had sent me a gift card, so I might was well see what alternatives were in stock.
The Apple salesperson checked the value of the gift card ($25), then asked the need, then quickly handed me a Belkin Y Adaptor Cable.
Pretty much an even swap: $24.95, plus tax. It was silver, not white, but very coolly designed with hard tubular ends to plug into the stereo sockets.
Too bad this adaptor didn’t work. The ends didn’t grip the sockets, like conventional connectors.
Only got sound coming out from one Bose speaker – and then only if you jiggled the connector.
Took the Belkin adaptor back to the Apple Store. The salesperson, who recognized me, recommended the Monster cable, instead. Looked for one, but didn’t have it in stock. But instead of firing up the online Apple Store on a screen next to us, he simply handed me a cash refund and told me to go buy one – at a Radio Shack down the hall of the mall.
This is the Steve Jobs Premium. You know you may have to pay $50 to get a cable, buy you also know it would work and deliver more capability than you might think you need. You also know if you go into a store, you’re going to get thoughtful answers. You won’t get half-baked products or service. You get a company that at all levels is fully engaged and fully committed, to the customer.
It’s simple. But so difficult too pull off.
Customers face enough complexity in life. And, sure, they may want complex products and services, in their lives. But they want them simple to install, operate and enjoy.
That shouldn’t take a genius to see. But customers will pay a premium to one who does.