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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Miln

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An Apple a day keeps the competition away – Why agents NEED to care about customer satisfaction

Brexit.  A worldwide pandemic.  A war in Ukraine.  Spiking mortgage costs. Crashing house prices. The increasing costs of living. All external influences over which you have no control.  The Property Industry has always been resilient.  But what if that’s not enough – what if instead you should be prepared?

So where can you look to create a stable plan for sustained success and growth. How about one of the biggest global brands for inspiration!

At VABOO our most recent Client of the month celebrated a matching score with Apple with an industry leading customer satisfaction or NPS score of 72. And bearing in mind this is an industry that sees the average NPS sit somewhere between -11 to +20.

Why is Net Promoter Score important, you ask? Apple are a retail brand – there’s no comparison to the Property sector right?  WRONG.

Whilst the term still remains underutilised by the majority of Letting and Sales Agents, the reason it is banded about as a badge of honour by the retail industry is clear. NPS is related to a company’s growth and customer retention levels. The score showcases how many people are happy with your brand, and how many actually promote it. And if they do the latter, it’s safe to assume those people are loyal customers.

Apple’s customer satisfaction and loyalty have been growing steadily over the years, reflecting the way consumers view the brand. According to NPS (Net Promoter Score) Benchmarks, Apple’s NPS score in 2022 is a resounding 72, which is significantly higher than the average score of the consumer electronics industry.

Apple’s Net Promoter Score is very high for a company in its industry, but it’s not unattainable for other brands. By understanding why and how Apple achieves high customer loyalty, you can create a process that improves customer satisfaction in your own business.

So we thought we’d look at just a few of the lessons that Apple and leading agents can share to create customer loyalty, retention and a constant stream of referrals.

What Are the Reasons Behind Apple’s NPS?

Understanding what led to Apple having such a high NPS can give you an idea of what your agency could focus on to achieve similar results. Apple’s NPS score isn’t a coincidence, after all. It’s the result of a doggedly determined focus on delivering a great product and an exceptional experience to customers.

A Focus on Relieving Purchasing Anxiety

One of the most frequent reasons customers don’t purchase is anxiety about whether or not it will work as it should. Concerns that getting an answer from the company might be difficult if the product doesn’t work properly also come into play.

Apple neutralizes this anxiety through its customer service, letting clients know that for any product they buy, they’ll receive the support they need to its fullest. Customers are making the purchase based not just on the quality of a product, but on the quality of the service that accompanies it. One of the Apple’s strengths is best expressed through a simple rule: “Sell an experience, not a product.”

And the same mantra should apply to your agency. Let your customers know from the outset that you are a brand that they can trust.  Relieve the anxiety about what happens when things don’t go as planned.  How will you respond?  With a focus on cost or with compassion? Proving your ability to provide great service when it matters will always stand you in good stead.

A focus on employee satisfaction

Why is that relevant to your customer experience? Because happy, satisfied employees are productive employees! According to research, happy employees are 20% more productive than their unhappy counterparts. And that boost at Apple was achieved by just spending £2/person on snacks and drinks! And if your employees are happy and productive, your customers will be satisfied too.

Plus, companies with engaged employees outperform businesses without engaged employees by a whopping 202%. What’s more, companies with highly engaged employees can see a revenue growth of around 2.5 times that of their competitors – not to mention high employee engagement can also reduce expensive staff turnover by approximately 40%.

The company recognised the importance of employees being Promoters themselves. After all, only an employee who truly believes the service they are selling is the best in the market can turn a customer into a Promoter.

Alongside a whole host of other improvements to working practices, communication and management techniques, Apple created a culture of fandom at work by letting employees use company products regularly, giving them discounts, and even some products as free gifts to them.

So how is the Property industry adding value to employee packages and letting them know all the positive things customers are saying about their service? What are you doing to show your employees that you are a company to be proud of?  Are you empowering them to help your customers in a meaningful way that generates both job satisfaction and raving feedback about your service?  If not, then learn the lessons and find ways to make working for you rewarding.

Unique Customer Experiences

Apple was more than prepared for the shift of customer experience vs price and product when it came to brand differentiation in the market. A simple Google search is enough to reveal how many Apple customers are pleased with the unique experiences the brand offers them.

Their customer experiences are a result of Apple’s 5 steps of service (the acronym for those steps is actually APPLE). The 4th step (“Listen for and resolve issues or concerns”) encourages employees to get to know their customers better so that they can offer them a higher degree of convenience and personalisation.

The fact that convenience is important is a no-brainer, but what about personalisation? Well, according to their research, 66% of customers expected companies to understand their unique needs and expectations. Apple doesn’t just deliver personalisation in the form of unique customer service. The brand’s services are usually highly oriented towards offering users a personalised experience. Customer feedback plays an important role in user-oriented personalisation too. For Apple, feedback is clearly important, given they make it very easy (and also encouraging) for customers to leave feedback for most of their products and services.

The best agents, are not only finding easy and engaging ways for their customers to leave feedback, they pay close attention and respond to it too.  And when those raving reviews come flooding in – they are a great marketing tool for customers that want and expect that level of service too.

A Clear Understanding of the Power of Simplicity

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.” – Steve Jobs

One of the best ways to provide consumers with a positive experience with your brand is to offer simplicity. Research backs that up too – consumers desire simpler, faster, and more seamless brand engagement. Apple’s emphasis on simplicity is immediately noticeable when you consider that most Apple services support single sign-on features. For instance, you can use your Apple ID to access all services hosted by Apple, which is much more straightforward than having users keep track of multiple IDs to use different services.

By offering one way for your customers to engage is more likely to get your customers to promote your brand to others. Finding a way to promote all of your services, communication channels and USP’s in one place – as well as ensuring that you are proactively and positively engaging on a regular basis - is essential. Finding PropTech to make this possible in a cost effective and provably effective way is just as essential to the efficiency and reputation of your business.

A Brand Built on Innovation

One of Apple’s biggest selling points is its unique hardware and software. The main reason they manage to offer products like that is because they focus on innovation. By that, we don’t mean they just create products that are new. They also make sure they are useful, they are likely to be adopted, and that they will lead to change.

Is innovation tied to Apple’s NPS, though?

The answer is yes, it seems it is. According to their research, 84% of consumers say it is somewhat important that the company they buy from is innovative. 75% of them would also be likely to pay a premium price for innovation.

And if consumers are happy with the products they buy, they will probably recommend them to others, or just talk about them online. As a result, those customers will most likely become Promoters for the brand they like, raising its NPS score. Considering all of that, it’s not hard to see how Apple’s NPS score can get a boost from its innovative products.

What is needed as a Sales or Lettings business hasn’t really changed in decades.  But the expectations of the service around these transactions certainly have. You don’t need to do anything new.  But you do need to find innovative ways to do it better. Your customers expect it.  To make you stand out you need to be doing something different.  Offer something above and beyond a traditional product or service and your customers will reward you for it.

Continued improvement of customer satisfaction

Contrary to the common belief that Apple doesn’t like to listen to its customers, Apple was one of the first big advocates of Net Promoter Score.

NPS feedback is analysed and provided to stores on a daily basis. Whenever Apple receives poor responses from a Detractor (those that negatively impact an NPS score), the store manager follows up over the phone to clear up the issue within 24 hours. The response is rapid, and it has seriously positive results for Apple’s ratings.

Internal studies showed that Detractors whom Apple contacted within 24 hours were significantly more likely to buy Apple products in the future than Detractors that couldn’t be reached. Apple worked out that each hour on the phone with a Detractor had a value of $1,000 in additional revenue for the company.

It’s impossible to get it all right, all of the time.  And certainly in the industry issues arise beyond control – as well as within it. But it is how you respond to this that makes the difference. Where are you missing out on future business by not following up on negative feedback? How much revenue could you be earning from data that could be easily accessed?

Focus on customer value, not money

Recent research by Deloitte found that customer-centric companies were 60% more profitable compared to companies that were not focused on the customer. If Apple’s main focus was on making more money, they probably wouldn’t have been so successful now. Instead, they focused on their customers and it has paid off.

Today, Apple is one of the world’s most successful and profitable technology companies and has an  awe-inspiring 87% brand loyalty across the US and Europe. So think less about profit and more about customer value. How your company and your product or service can create more value for your customers.

Find Out Your Company NPS

Apple is one of the world’s biggest companies, and the tactics that it uses to measure its NPS might not be completely relevant for your business; however, the general strategy – a unique product backed up by great customer service – is something that any brand can implement.

The best way to learn retention from big companies is to survey your customers, read their feedback and use it to improve your product, service, and experience. Having access to such data can help you make better decisions regarding how to approach customers, and which segments (Promoters, Passives, Detractors) you need to focus on more at the moment.

But how do you measure your NPS?

This requires consistent, dedicated and focused questioning of your customer base.  Activity that most agencies do not have the time or resource to implement. Well, Vaboo has got you covered! As well as rewarding your customers and employees for their loyalty, earning their trust and providing you with a point of difference, we gather feedback for a real-time view and response.  Did we mention that we find out and report on your NPS for you too?  

So if you want to benchmark how you measure up – get in touch with our team.

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