Tim Cook makes change at Apple after reading email from unhappy customer

The Apple CEO must have been bothered by this tiny detail.


Rob Price


Published Jul 15, 2014   Updated May 30, 2021, 11:15 pm CDT

Steve Jobs was not a man known for idle pleasantries. The late Apple CEO was infamous for his often brutal email responses to customers. When one customer emailed to say that the iPhone 4 lost all reception when the user’s hand is over the antenna, Jobs coldly responded that they should “just avoid holding it that way.” When another customer complained about Apple’s repair system, Jobs replied that “it sounds like you’re just looking for someone to get mad at other than yourself.”

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Much has been made of the difference in management styles between Jobs and his successor, Tim Cook, but now another has emerged: their approach to customer queries. Whereas the former exhibited the icy bluntness exhibited above, the latter, well, actually takes it on board.

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In a discussion about customer service on the r/apple subreddit, redditor lerde recently recounted how he reached out to Tim Cook via email about the “super low quality” hold music played while on hold with Apple. While Cook didn’t responded personally, “to my surprise a lady from Cupertino called me up the next day,” telling lerde that Cook had indeed received the email, had looked into it personally, “and agreed that something had to be done.” Further tests were promised, and lo and behold, “the next time I called Apple, the hold music was indeed very pleasant.”

It’s a result made all the more surprising by the sheer volume of email that Cook receives on a daily basis. Appleinsider reports that the CEO has previously told NBC that he gets “hundreds, sometimes thousands of emails from customers.” Cook added: “This is a privilege because they talk to you as if you’re sitting at their kitchen table. … Because they care so deeply about Apple, they want to make a suggestion, or want to ask for help on something, or want to tell you how much they love the product.”

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Read lerde’s full comment has been copied below:

I once sent Tim an email about the quality of music while on hold with Apple. It was super low quality, therefore an upbeat rock song sounded like pure distortion and really aggravated me because I was on hold for 20+ minutes for something so simple (iPhone didn’t turn on, needed to set up a repair as in my country no Apple Store = have to send it to another country).

Much to my surprise a lady from Cupertino called me up the next day, saying she’d received a concerning email from Tim about ugly distortion hold music while on the phone, that Tim had tested this himself and agreed that something had to be done. She assured me that the hold music would be tested to make sure it sounded pleasant on all types of phones and connections.

The next time I called Apple, the hold music was indeed very pleasant.

H/T Appleinsider / Photo via Mike Deerkowski / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Jul 15, 2014, 8:52 am CDT