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Apple’s vice president of AppleCare and technical support initiatives, Tara Bunch, held a Town Hall meeting for for AppleCare employees earlier this week, according to several employees in attendance who asked to remain anonymous. During the meeting, Bunch, along with a few other Apple executives, spoke about Apple’s progress in customer service and support over the past few years, improvements from 2013 to 2014, and future plans.

Throughout the meeting, Bunch noted that customer satisfaction numbers from AppleCare and Apple product users are at the top of the industry. Going into the 15th year of AppleCare, Bunch asked employees to celebrate and be proud of their accomplishments, but she also noted that Apple still has room to improve its support practices. Employees in attendance during the meeting have shared some details regarding Apple’s future plans for its support initiatives…

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According to Apple employees, a large area of focus for Apple is the AppleCare+ protection plan. AppleCare+ is Apple’s premium support service for iOS devices like the iPad and iPhone. Unlike the standard AppleCare protection plan, AppleCare+ supports users with accidental physical damage to their devices. As Apple details on its website:

Every iPhone comes with one year of hardware repair coverage through its limited warranty and up to 90 days of complimentary support. AppleCare+ for iPhone extends your coverage to two years from the original purchase date of your iPhone and adds up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage, each subject to a $79 service fee plus applicable tax.

Bunch told employees that AppleCare+ has been doing well in terms of both sales and customer satisfaction. She said there have been over 30 million signups for AppleCare+ and this has created over $2 billion in revenue for Apple. AppleCare+ is currently in 14 countries, and Bunch noted that expanding AppleCare+ to additional countries is a tall task due to the inconsistent insurance and government-related legal processes across the globe. However, she hinted that further expansion will soon occur.

Even with the success of AppleCare+ thus far, Bunch focused on sharing information about major changes coming to the program. Currently, AppleCare+ must be purchased within 30 days of the purchase of a supported device. Bunch says that Apple has begun piloting an expansion of this timeframe to 60 days, and that the company in the future may ultimately completely move the 30 day time limit to 60 days. Currently, a customer must purchase AppleCare+ at the time of purchase online or in a store, but she said that Apple is experimenting with new online diagnostic tools to make the purchase process of AppleCare+ simpler after the time of the device’s purchase.

Bunch also noted that Apple is considering further pushing AppleCare+ as a subscription service via Apple’s iTunes-based billing program that is used for iTunes and App Store content. Bunch said that Apple is also looking into a version of the AppleCare+ program for Mac computers, but she noted that such program may never appear because the economics are not prime for such an offering. Bunch also addressed the competition from third-party and carrier insurance/support programs. Many carrier programs offer support in cases of lost and stolen devices, and Bunch noted that in order to remain competitive in that space, Apple will have to move to offering those services in the future as well.

Besides changes to AppleCare+, Apple will be rolling out a significant new iOS device support feature this fall, according to Bunch. Late last year, Apple rolled out the ability for AppleCare support technicians to screen share onto a customer’s Mac in order to diagnose or fix problems. This fall, that functionality will roll out to iOS devices. This sounds quite similar to Amazon’s MayDay feature which allows customers to get instant technical support from their devices, but it does not appear that Apple’s offering will include a dedicate key on future devices or that the Apple service will be a core element of iOS.

Apple is also working on improvements to its 24/7 chat support service. Last summer, Apple rolled out 24/7 chat support for AppleCare in the United States. This week’s Town Hall announcements to AppleCare employees reportedly hinted that Apple is looking into 24/7 phone support for some regions. There are apparently is no firm time-table on this and the service sounds far off into the future, but it is interesting to hear that Apple is considering this.

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Speaking of phone support, Apple is said to have played a recording of Tim Cook’s now famous support call during his visit to Apple’s Austin-based offices earlier this month. According to employees who listened to the recording, the call between Cook and a lucky Apple customer was short, but Cook asked the user what he thought of Apple’s announcements at the Worldwide Developers Conference earlier in the month.

Even while Apple is still working on improvements to its phone support, Bunch also told employees that significant enhancements would be coming to Apple’s online support site. The AppleCare executives reportedly said that they imagine a time in which all Apple support will be solely handled through online resources, and the changes coming to the support service in the near-future indicate that Apple is serious about that belief. Apple is said to be developing new tools for customers to more easily self-diagnose and troubleshoot problems with Macs, iOS devices, and other Apple hardware, software, and services. Apple is also working on complete redesigns for the user-facing support tools website and discussion forums for debut later this year, according to employees who attended the Town Hall. One of the major focuses will be improvements to social networking integration with the support tools as well as much improved searching.

Apple is also reportedly working on significant enhancements to Apple IDs and how support for the IDs are handled. Approximately a quarter of Apple’s technical support calls are in regards to Apple services such as Apple IDs, iTunes, and iCloud, so Apple feels that it is important for more self-help tools to become available for troubleshooting minor annoyances such as password resets and login problems. Bunch also reportedly promoted a recently launched “One Apple” program that serves to more closely align Apple’s support offerings between online, phone, and in-store Genius Bar support. With Angela Ahrendts now running both online and physical retail stores, it is likely that the One Apple concept will be pushed even further in the near-future.

Bunch reportedly ended the meeting by saying that Apple is due for a “Super Bowl” of a fall in terms of product launches, and that these new enhancements will assist Apple in helping new customers learn how to use Apple’s new products. Apple will be debuting new versions of the iPhone, iPad, a new wearable device, iOS 8, OS X Yosemite, and many new Macs, and Apple’s AppleCare support staff will be critical in ensuring that the new Apple customers have smooth product experiences.

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26 Responses to “Significant enhancements coming to AppleCare+, Apple IDs, iOS support”

  1. I can imagine the technical nightmare it would be to accomplish, but Apple should really let people merge multiple Apple IDs into one. There was talk of this in 2011 but it never happened. So many people have different IDs created over the years for iTools/.Mac, iTunes, MobileMe, iCloud, FaceTime, iMessage, etc. It would be nice to be able to consolidate those IDs and pick and choose what you want to keep. (For example, combine all iTunes purchases, pick which email address to keep and which ones to discard/turn into aliases, which account’s iCloud data to keep, etc.)

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  2. Maybe they can work on making it so you can finally change your Apple ID. I’ve been stuck with an unfortunate choice I made way back in my .mac account 10 years ago.

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  3. Avenged110 says:

    Seriously, all I want is to be able to use my @me.com as my AppleID. WHY IN THE HELL is that not allowed?

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  4. While this is all good and dandy Apple needs to fix the mess that is called Apple ID / iCloud ID. Before iMessenger my entire family (3 kids and a wife) used my Apple ID to purchase music/movies/apps. Then came iMessenger and now all the kids were getting copies of my SMS messages. So I gave each of them their own Apple ID, created myself a new one with a different email address. That fixed the SMS issue. Now everyone uses my old email address to make purchases and they get their SMS at their iCloud ID’s. Now, with the new “Family iCloud thingy” they have going on I really don’t have to have a separate Apple ID for purchases, but how do I go back and combine my old email/iCloud address with my new one? They have fixed the problem but they haven’t told us how to fix our “Work-arounds” for the mess they created in the first place.

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    • irelandjnr says:

      Soinds like you should call Apple support and explain all this to them. If they can’t help tell them you want the situation escalated.

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    • shm1ck83 says:

      I agree with the first half of your comment, as I was in the same boat and it was a bit tricky to figure out yourself. I’m regards to wanting to go back to your original email, there was no reason for you to make a new one in the first place. If all your family continue to use the same email for purchases and separate for iCloud there is no reason to just continue what you are doing.
      You could link your new email address to your existing Apple ID but I don’t see you getting any benefits from doing so.

      Apple ID for purchases should of been made different from you iCloud, iMessage etc, this would of stopped a lot of the confusion but people would of cracked it if they had to make up a new @me email just for iMessage, but now I’m hindsight it would of been the better option.

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      • Ideally, you should only have to remember one email address and password to log in to all Apple related services, having a separate for iTunes and iCloud is confusing and not really a good idea. Having a separate Apple ID for each individual in your family is the best bet, sharing an Apple ID with others only for iTunes & App Stores.

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    • bartdorsey says:

      Apple is adding a feature called “Family Sharing” in iOS 8 to help eliminate these kinds of issues.

      http://www.apple.com/ios/ios8/family-sharing/

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    • Don’t sign in to iMessage with the same Apple ID on each phone. Just use the phone number for each iPhone. Only be signed in to your own personal iPhone, MacBook, etc. with your Apple ID fro iMessage. you can still be signed into the Apple App Store and iTunes with the other Apple ID, and you can even use two different Apple IDs, one for iMessage and one for iTunes.

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    • When the problem with the messages first occurred you could have tried going into the settings, then the messages tab, hit send and recieve, and uncheck all numbers and emails unless it’s that phones number. My family ran into that problem at one point and that fixed the issue.

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    • What I do is log each phone into it’s own iCloud account. Me, my wife, my kid, all have our own Apple IDs. Then go into the App Store, log out, and log in with the common account (mine) for purchases. All phones share the same purchase account. Do the same with iTunes if necessary.
      The key is that for messaging, facetime, etc. each person has their own account.
      Also, one thing you can do is go into the iCloud account, turn off certain services (like find iPhone) and then go into “Mail, Contacts, Calendars” > “Add Account” > “ICloud Account” and log into another iCloud account. You can then enable certain services on the 2nd iCloud account.
      This is how each phone can have it’s own iCloud account, but all phones can be on the same account for Fine my iPhone (if that’s what you desire.)

      But for starters, log each phone into it’s own account. Then go into the store, log out, then all log in with the same (dad’s) account for sharing.

      I should really put this info on a blog, but the new family sharing feature is going to make it somewhat obsolete.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I haven’t thought of adding two iCloud accounts to the same device before but I can think of a number of potential problems that would introduce if the wrong setting is changed or a mistake is made. I wouldn’t recommend this. If you’re doing that solely so you can see all devices in the same place for Find My iPhone, I would use the Find My Friends app instead. If you lose the device just log into iCloud.com with the Apple ID signed in to that particular device.

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    • Why would you create a new Apple ID for yourself? Creating new Apple ID’s to be used with iMessage/FaceTime and iCloud for your kids would have been sufficient and would have avoided your mess.

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  5. rahhbriley says:

    Uh oh…surely they’ll cancel these plans now that you’ve leaked their intentions @Mark Gruman. :/

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  6. Apple ID is the most broken thing about Apple. They punish long time supporters of Apple by locking us into Apple ID’s using old @mac.com email addresses that no longer work. Why can’t I use my current email address? Is it difficult for some reason? I’m tired of having one more thing to store because Apple can’t make such a simple fix.

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  7. I am still baffled how people can not understand iCloud and Itunes (apple ID’s) and how they work.
    Take about 5 minutes and research it on the web to have a full understanding.
    Glad someone informed Michael Pearson that he should have never created a new iCloud acct for himself, just for everyone else in the family.

    How hard is it to understand that iCloud is basically a back up and contacts/calendar syncing. iTunes is for purchasing Audio/Video and Apps… wow, that is so complicated.

    Hey, let me log in my account that is backing up my phone and remembering all my contacts and important other items on my 5 year old iPod and wonder why I don’t have contacts 15 minutes later… duuuhhhhh.

    Pull your heads out of your a***** people. This is super simple. A child should be able to understand how Apple ID’s and iCloud/iTunes works…

    I made a whole new ID and I bought $1000 of music on each, you mean I can’t use both…. umm No.
    SMH jeez common sense and comprehension in America is just sad….

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  8. Here is how you change an email address associated with your current Apple ID.
    The new email address can NOT already be an Apple ID.
    Go To: appleid.apple.com log into manage my Apple ID.

    Click EDIT on the email address that is already there. Enter the new one and hit SAVE CHANGES.

    Now, go to EVERY device that has the old Apple, iphone, ipod, ipad, mac, iTunes, App store etc
    LOG OUT.
    Log BACK in with the New email address on ALL devices that had the OLD email address logged in.

    This is extremely helpful for the people who were smart and used comcast, knology, or other non permanent email addresses they no longer have access to because they moved to a different company.

    USE PERMANENT EMAIL ADDRESSES PEOPLE. STOP USING COMCAST TEMPORARY EMAIL ADDRESSES FOR IMPORTANT THINGS…. omg that should be common sense ….
    If you switch from comcast to knology you LOSE YOUR COMCAST EMAIL ADDRESS!!!!

    Why is that so hard for people to understand…
    also don’t use your Work email address either, if you quit or get fired, you lose That email address too.

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