Is Apple Customer Service Good? 2017 Rating
Apple is the longtime leader in tech support, and the company expanded its offerings in 2016. Apple now addresses queries via social media, documentation, live online chats and calls with agents via the Apple Support app. These options join the company's existing Genius Bar, support.apple.com and telephone support channels.
|Apple Tech Support|
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This year, we reached out to Apple tech-support reps to see if they understood the changes to macOS and how to use the Touch Bar on its recently released MacBook Pro. Did they know how to undo moving Documents and Desktop to iCloud, which macOS Sierra asks you to do during the upgrade process? What about enabling Siri on the Mac, which doesn't respond to "Hey, Siri"? Also, how do you find the Function keys on the Touch Bar MacBook Pro?
Despite a couple of snags, Apple still offers the best and most comprehensive support of all the laptop-makers we reviewed in this Tech Support Showdown.
After searching "How do I undo moving my Documents and Desktop to iCloud?" on Apple's support web page, I found a page that explained how to use iCloud to store the contents of these directories, but no explicit instructions for undoing this change. I figured out how to reverse this step by going through the process listed and unchecking the Desktop and Documents box.
Then, I turned to Apple's online chat for further guidance. After I navigated through several complicated menus and got disconnected from my first chat session, a rep named Ben took 3 minutes to recommend a simple solution: manually move those files from iCloud. When I asked if there was any way to regain the option of storing files on my desktop, Ben told me I'd have to turn off iCloud Drive to do so. Although that solution works, it isn't entirely correct; unchecking the box next to Desktop and Documents in the iCloud section of System Preferences also accomplishes this task. It took another 8 minutes of conversation to resolve this issue.
Next, I typed my next query: "Siri doesn’t respond when I say ‘Hey, Siri, how do I get it to work?’" into the Apple support site's search field. The fourth item in the results, “Use Siri on your Mac,” included the explanation I needed: Users activate the assistant by clicking the icon in the menu or dock.
In December 2016, Apple finally revealed its Support app, which makes it slightly easier to jump straight into Apple's support page from an iPhone or iPad. When you open the app, it shows buttons for the Apple devices registered to your name, which made it easy for me to find documentation about my Touch Bar MacBook Pro.
I typed "Function keys touch bar" into the search field, and then selected "Using touch bar." The next screen started with options to schedule a call, but instead, I selected the "Use the Touch Bar on your MacBook Pro" article on the bottom of the screen. This document answered the question, explaining that you hold the Function (fn) key to show the F1-F12 buttons in the Touch Bar.
When I asked Apple's newly minted Twitter account @applesupport for help in finding the Function keys, I received a response 6 minutes later. The tweet directed me to a page with documentation about the Touch Bar, which solved my query, though "click the fn key" could have fit into the service's character with room left over, and would have provided the answer in less time.
To call Apple's telephone support agents, I navigated the same menus I used to get live chat support, selected the Phone Call option and entered my machine’s serial number. I received my first call at 2:03 p.m. ET — a mere moment after I requested it — and an automated voice agent let me choose my own hold music. After I waited 4 minutes, I was connected to Hayley in South Florida and asked him my iCloud question.
Hayley then instructed me to disable iCloud Drive, and explained how to keep a local copy of the files. During the 2 minutes it took to download the files, I chatted with Hayley about the weather down in Florida, as he was positive and easy to talk to.
At the end of our chat, I asked if there was some way to turn iCloud Desktop and Documents off without disabling iCloud Drive. Hayley said there was not, which is, unfortunately, not the case. The call took 8 minutes in total.
My next call connected me to Frank in Oregon, who explained that the physical fn key makes the Touch Bar show the Function keys. Frank also showed me how to set specific apps to use the Function keys in the Touch Bar, and he needed to place me on hold to ask colleagues if I could do the same for Finder.
After telling me that there was no such option, Frank directed me to a feedback page where I could ask Apple to add this option in a future version. In total, the call took 15 minutes, but Frank solved my main question in only 3 minutes.
My last call connected me with the upbeat and chipper Letasha, who showed me the icon in the dock and menu bar that you click to activate Siri. Before we concluded, Letasha explained how to change the keyboard command used to start Siri. The call lasted 7 minutes.
On average, it took Apple's reps 6 minutes per call to get answers — a minute less than its time last year.
Out of the box, Apple offers only 90 days of complimentary telephone technical support. Those who need more can pay for three years of hardware service and telephone support coverage via the AppleCare Protection Plan, which costs $249 for the MacBook, MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pros, and $349 for the 15-inch MacBook Pro.
While calls did not go perfectly, Apple's customer support team provided solutions in a speedy and positive manner. The company does not get any points for finally creating a Twitter support account (and is it too good for Facebook?), but we do applaud the team running that account for the timely, helpful replies.
If Apple wants to improve its support, it should ensure support techs learn about all of the new features so that they can give completely accurate answers to questions on topics such as iCloud Documents. Its Twitter account could also improve by providing answers directly, instead of linking to posts where the content is found. Overall, though, Apple offers the best support of any laptop manufacturer, as it has for many years.