Apple Watch preorders cause spike in Apple phone, chat support wait times

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As can be expected from a major product launch, Apple Watch preorders and first weekend sales caused a spike in wait times for customers trying to reach Apple's service centers.

According to fresh data from customer service analytics firm StellaService, analysts polling Apple's response times on April 10 — the first day of Apple Watch preorders — waited 4 minutes and 51 seconds to reach a live representative over phone and 2 minutes and 22 seconds for help over chat. Phone-based support recovered on April 11 with delays down to 1 minute and 34 seconds, but chat still lagged at 2 minutes and 12 seconds.

By comparison, in the first quarter of 2015 Apple's customer service response speeds averaged 1 minute and 28 seconds for phone calls and 22 seconds for chat requests put in through its website.

A second, less dramatic spike was seen when Apple Watch shipped out to customers on April 24, with phone call times coming in at 1 minute and 54 seconds, while chats took at 80 seconds to connect.

StellaService does not speculate on what caused the longer than normal wait times, but it can be assumed strong Apple Watch demand is to blame.

With a sweeping advertising campaign targeting both technology and fashion markets, demand for Apple Watch was impressive from the outset and saw initial supply sell out within minutes. Further, Apple changed its order policy for both Apple Watch and the new 12-inch MacBook, which also went on sale on April 10, initially allowing only online availability of both items.

Apple SVP of Retail Angela Ahrendts addressed Apple Store employees after receiving word that consumers were confused about the policy shift, saying that future product launches would return to online preorders ahead of day one brick-and-mortar availability.


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