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June 30, 2010

Apple Reputation Management CrisisI

Today, a document was leaked by Boy Genius Report that shows Apple knows about the reception problem in the new iphone G4 and is teaching their employees how to "respond". While consumers have been complaining about the reception problems that the phone has for several months, Apple -- which is known for their excellent customer serivice -- has not only been slow to reply, but has told customers that the problem is not with their Apple phone, but in general with all cell phones.

According to Mashable, here are some of the reputation management phrases that Apple is trying to use to convince customers that it isn't their product:

  • The iPhone 4’s wireless performance is the best we have ever shipped. Our testing shows that iPhone 4’s overall antenna performance is better than iPhone 3GS.
  • Gripping almost any mobile phone in certain places will reduce its reception. This is true of the iPhone 4, the iPhone 3GS, and many other phones we have tested. It is a fact of life in the wireless world.
  • If you are experiencing this on your iPhone 3GS, avoid covering the bottom-right side with your hand.
  • If you are experiencing this on your iPhone 4, avoid covering the black strip in the lower-left corner of the metal band.
  • The use of a case or Bumper that is made out of rubber or plastic may improve wireless performance by keeping your hand from directly covering these areas.

While these kind of tips may seem funny to a reader, now that this internal report has been leaked it looks like Apple could have a reputation management crisis on their hands, along with a lot of angry customers.

How should Apple respond?

It isn't going to be easy to convince Apple customers that the iphone isn't defective -- especially now that their internal memo has been leaked. For the companies sake, they should launch an investigation into the defective phones and invite customers who think their is a problem with their phones to visit a retail store and have a unique check done of the phones. Apple needs to bring some hard evidence to the table if they expect to quell this quickly growing product reputation crisis, they need to make it clear to customers that the leaked document was not meant to cover up a problem with the iphones.

They also should get online and start responding to what will be a flood of blog posts, comments and social networking conversations of both angry customers and nervous potential customers. Apple has to make a huge effort now to be there for their customers and make sure that they prove to the public that either a) their phone isn't defective or b) that if it is, they're willing to take care of their customers and recall the iphones.

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