Apple’s Customer Service Genius Manual
The move to ecommerce coupled with the recession means that many physical shops are struggling to stay afloat. However Apple is one business that is bucking the trend – opening more Apple Stores around the world and increasing sales through a combination of cool technology, informed staff and training sessions that teach you how to get the best out of your Apple product.
So how does Apple do it? And more importantly can other retailers learn from the Apple experience and improve their own performance? Some useful tips come from Apple’s employee training manual, recently published online by Gizmodo. It covers everything needed to become (and remain) an Apple Store Genius.
The whole article is well worth reading, but in short there are five things that Apple does that will work equally well for all retailers:
1 Invest in training
An obvious point, but all Apple retail staff have a full 14 day training programme, backed up by a comprehensive manual for them to learn from. Prepare your staff well and they’ll be better placed to help customers.
Understand where the customer is coming from, talk in their language and don’t patronise them. Essentially take an interest in their issue or point of view and then use this common ground to change their perceptions.
3 Be consistent
Some commentators have criticised the Apple training manual as creating robots, all programmed to respond the same way. While it is prescriptive in lots of areas, the aim is to enforce consistency across thousands of staff around the world, so that every customer gets the same high level experience, wherever they are. Make sure your processes and language are the same, whichever store they are in.
4 Happy customers spend money
Like every shop, the Apple Store exists to sell you things. But the key focus in the training manual is to understand customers and make them happy, rather than pushing products at them. As Apple realises happy customers spend money, those being harassed by commission-driven salespeople simply walk away.
5 Empower staff
As they are not having to meet strict sales quotas, Apple Geniuses are given the power to spend their time helping customers – and can take as long as they need. While this can lead to longer waiting times it helps keep customers happy, and as we’ve seen happier customers both spend money and tell their friends about the good experience they’ve had.
Obviously there’s plenty in the Apple handbook that can be seen as brainwashing employees, training them to use psychology on unsuspecting shoppers to make them buy. However in practice Apple has created an approach that isn’t new, but keeps customers happy, empowers staff and generates ever-increasing retail sales – so whatever type of business you are involved in, there are lessons that can you learn to make your organisation more successful.