During his time as Apple CEO, Steve Jobs was well known for personally responding to some of the customer emails he received, which has even led to some of his best replies being collected in a book.
Customers who email current Apple CEO Tim Cook also occasionally receive responses, and a CNBC report over the weekend reveals how these emails are processed and often shared with other executives within Apple.
According to people familiar with how the process works, Cook has an assistant whose job it is to read the mail, forward some to him for personal attention, and share others to a group distribution list of executives on the relevant teams. They forward the letters to their reports, and so on down the chain. Many of these "Dear Tim" letters are ultimately passed around by rank-and-file employees, according to one current and two former employees.
In an example of how customer emails can influence product decisions, the report highlights how some of these messages played a particularly influential role in the development of the Apple Watch.
After the Apple Watch launched in 2015, the company promoted a variety of features on it, including communications, entertainment, and health and fitness tracking. But then the missives started pouring in from users, describing how the device alerted them to potentially serious medical conditions and even saved lives. After this, Apple began shifting the emphasis of the watch more toward health features.
One former Apple employee reportedly described the emails as a "surprise," given that the Apple Watch wasn't developed to pick up heart-rate irregularities at the time. Another former employee said similar emails showed Apple that the device could have a more positive impact on health than anyone at the company had previously realized.
The report also goes on to note how the emails often help to maintain staff morale, especially for those employees who don't have an external-facing role and can't talk about the products they're working on. You can read the full full article here.