Everyone knows that a huge aspect of Apple’s success is their remarkable store strategy, complete with the ‘Genius Bar’. These stores have, from the very beginning, exemplified a new standard for an in-store customer experience. I remember going into the Apple store for the first time and buying a first generation iPhone. I couldn’t believe that the people on the floor could not only help me and answer all my questions, but they could set up my phone and check me out — I didn’t have to get the phone and go wait in line. In subsequent years — and many trips to the Apple Store — i have found an unparalleled experience. I recently walked in with a friend (and newbie to the Apple experience) — and the store was swarming with people, the iPhone 4s had just been released. He immediately wanted to walk out thinking we would never get helped. I said, no, just give it a moment- let’s see what happens. Within one minute — we were approached by an Apple employee who could answer his questions and get him started with an iPhone.
The Apple Store of course, is not perfect — but their model for taking care of customers has really worked. Recently on Gizmodo, the alleged ‘Genius Manual’ was leaked — revealing Apple’s secrets to taking care of customers in the Apple Stores. This supposed manual, which Apple has not acknowledged, is full of helpful tips on how to connect with customers and close the deal.
The Genius Manual outlines strategies for how employees should relate to customers — and it reads a bit like a psychology manual. One of the primary things Apple employees are trained to do is empathize with the customer, so that the customer feels understood. Employees are taught to recognize body language for positive and negative emotions (for instance, tapping on the table and sparing into space likely means that the customer is bored, while frustration may be conveyed by using fist-like gestures.) After identifying what a customer is experiencing, the rep is trained to address the customer’s issues and then capitalize on the connection (go for the sale). Selling is summed up in the acronym, APPLE, which stands for Approach, Probe, Present, Listen and End.
Also primary in the training is the absence of negativity. Apple teaches its employees to gently ‘reframe’ the customer’s negative experience using more neutral language. For example, instead of repeating that a customer’s computer crashed, the Apple rep will reframe it as ‘your computer has stopped responding.’ The employees are also trained to give ‘fearless feedback’ about each other, as opposed to criticism.
Based upon my experience of the Apple Store, this manual seems about right in terms of how things work in Genius land. The real question is — how can you use this information to take your business to the Genius level? Apple has created the most successful company in the world by creating unparalleled customer experiences — both with their product interfaces and their in-store strategy. Taking a few lessons from the Apple manual could make the difference in your business — taking your customers from satisfied to extremely satisfied — or turning them into raving fans — will surely boost your bottom line, and your peace of mind.