What can we learn from Apple and Coke’s mistakes regarding customer experience?

As far back as the 1900s, Pepsi and Coca-Cola have been waging war. However, 1985 saw Coke tip the scale to its rival. If they had been playing football, it would have been an own goal.

It caused controversy when it changed the formula of its core Coca-Cola product and rebranded it “New! Coke”. The reasoning behind the new product launch was because it scored higher in taste tests than either Coke or Pepsi. However, it couldn’t have two directly competing products on the shelves at the same time. It therefore decided to scrap the original Coca-Cola and introduced New Coke in its place.

The biggest mistake Coke made was failing to understand what the drink meant to its customers.

Coca-Cola was an experience, it stood for something in the eyes of the consumer.

Of course, this led to a firestorm of protests. Within a few months Coca-Cola was forced to bring back the original formula.

“Coca-Cola learnt this lesson, and you’ll notice that much of their marketing today is about the experience of drinking Coca-Cola,” said Kichin.

Then there’s the disaster of Microsoft’s Windows Vista.

Vista was created in order to improve security, yet its features were not much better than the previous versions of Windows. Vista was also not compatible with a number of older PCs, which limited the number of users who were likely to upgrade from Windows XP. 

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Many analysts claimed that Vista also ran more slowly than XP. All of these factors prevented Vista from being viewed as a better option compared to its predecessors.

Vista drove many would-be PC users to the iMac and MacBook laptops. Apple was smart enough to seize the moment with the amazing “I’m a Mac and I’m a PC” adverts.

Microsoft is now starting to learn that customers look for an experience over features or innovation. 

For example, in a video heralding the release of Windows 10, the word “experience” is mentioned over 20 times. 

However, Kichin claimed that possibly one of the biggest mistakes to grace the tech scene has been the new Samsung Galaxy 6.

“Previously, Samsung and its customers would often brag to Apple users about the ability to add hardware features to their smartphones – something you could not do with Apple products,” he said. “Additional memory and replaceable batteries were all features that Samsung customers were proud of.”

Samsung has decided to erase these features from the new Samsung Galaxy 6 and create a static phone, like the Apple iPhone.

According to Kichin the problem is twofold:

  • Loyal Samsung customers are “so upset with this move that many are now looking for other Android smartphones” where they can add additional memory and replace the battery; and
  • Apple customers do not use smart phones because of their hardware features, they use it because of their software features. There’s a limited chance in persuading them to join the other side.
Many great companies have become average at the peak of their success. They decided to innovate for the sake of innovating – rather than think about the users’ experience. Every business owner, big or small, should learn from the mistakes of these giants. 

“If they aren’t immune to ‘over innovation’ – then imagine what it could do to your business?” Kichin added. 

Every time you consider launching a new product or tweaking an existing one – think about the end user. 

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