Apple is notoriously strict about its repair policies. In fact, it recently started warning customers not to have their iPhone batteries replaced by third-party service technicians who aren’t part of Apple’s certified program. The company has also been a vocal opponent of so-called “right to repair” laws in states like California that seek to give consumers the legal right to have their devices repaired without having to adhere to tech company’s warranty requirements.
But, now, the company is doing something it has never done before: Apple announced it would be allowing independent repair businesses to obtain official Apple parts, tools, and training materials in order to provide out-of-warranty services. Those locations simply need at least one technician who has completed Apple’s free certification program to sign up for the free program and receive parts and tools at the same price as authorized repair locations.
That means that the locations won’t be able to provide service under AppleCare, but you’ll be able to at least pay to have your iPhone screen or battery replaced without having to find an Apple Authorized Service Provider, go to an Apple Store or a Best Buy (which recently started providing Apple repair services through its Geek Squad). And when you do, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that they’re able to use genuine Apple parts.
“To better meet our customers’ needs, we’re making it easier for independent providers across the US to tap into the same resources as our Apple Authorized Service Provider network,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer.
“When a repair is needed, a customer should have confidence the repair is done right. We believe the safest and most reliable repair is one handled by a trained technician using genuine parts that have been properly engineered and rigorously tested,” Williams added.
That’s good news for iPhone users, especially because it appears Apple has taken notice that users weren’t happy with the way the company was handling non-certified iPhone battery replacements. At a minimum, Apple is paying attention and taking action to address customer concerns.
In fact, this announcement also comes just a day after Apple has announced that it will no longer listen to recorded voice snippets of Siri interactions unless users explicitly ‘opt-in.’ That move was geared to quell criticism of the company’s privacy policies after it was revealed that Apple was having contractors review a random sampling of user interactions, often exposing personal conversations and private information.
Which brings up an interesting point–it’s okay to change your mind, even if you’re a giant like Apple. Just because you have a policy, and just because it seems to be working for you, doesn’t automatically mean it’s the best policy. Sometimes the smart thing to do is reconsider whether or not there’s something better you can do for your customers.
Apple hasn’t been known for being very repair-friendly in the past, but give the company credit for listening to its users (no pun intended) and making a change that actually makes it easier to use–and repair–its products.
Even though Apple’s is probably a much bigger company than the one you run, there’s a good lesson here: When it isn’t easy to admit you’re wrong and make a change, the right thing is always whatever best serves your customer and upholds your values. Making it easier for customers to get their devices repaired without feeling like they’ve done something wrong is always the right thing to do.
It might cost you a few dollars, or require giving up a little bit of control, but there’s no question it improves the overall customer experience and that’s always good news.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.