The crown jewel in the Apple portfolio – The Apple Retail Store.
Not only is an Apple Store, a perfect retail environment for the sale of technology; it’s an example to retailers all around the world as to how to constantly exceed customer expectations.
As was suggested to me on Twitter recently, the cornerstone of an Apple Store’s operation is the execution of a positive customer experience over all over considerations, even the sale. I’ve seen many occasions in my many, many visits to Apple Stores across the globe where employees have not only not taken the opportunity to up-sell a customer, but have actually convinced them to spend less on a lower specification of machine that will better meet their individual needs.
So what does Apple do that’s so different? How do they consistently get it right?
Here’s some observations that might be useful.
(1). The In/Out experience.
For Apple the sales experience begins the moment you arrive in the door and ends when you leave; in between these two points everything is part of the overall experience.
You will always get that welcoming feeling at the entrance from either one of the many Apple Hosts or the entrance signs highlighting what’s on in the store that day. It won’t be long before one of the legion of staff members will stop you and in a friendly, non intrusive or pushy way, introduce themselves and
(2). Handing over the cash.
Ready to purchase? Your store assistant’s device has a built in card reader so they can take your payment right there while you’re standing at the shelf, they grab a bag from a nearby hidden cupboard and you’re ready to leave. Or if you have the Apple Store App on your phone and credit on your ITunes a/c you can check yourself out.
Your receipt? Well that’s been emailed to you again direct from your assistant’s device and automatically vallidates the warranty so no more forms to fill in.
(3). After Sales.
Once money has changed hands you would imagine that the transaction is over – not so. If you’re just purchased a new Mac or MacBook then you’re invited back to take part in your choice of numerous free training sessions covering everything from the basics to specialist topics like video, audio and graphics creation.
(4). Pure Genius.
But where the Apple Store experience shines above all others is with the Genius Bar.We’ve all had the experience; a phone/laptop or other technical device decides to infuriate us by not working in some way. You take it back and are stared at blindly by someone behind a counter who clearly knows as much about solving the problem as you do. The Genius Bar is the Apple Store’s dedicated area for problem solving, staffed by specialist staff who I’m certain could find a solution to world peace if it was put to them.
In the end the real genius behind the Apple retail store experience is that from start to finish there’s a comfort factor that inevitably leads to easy purchases. If you’ve never been, no matter what industry or business you’re in, it’s worth a trip.
I mean how many retail stores do you know that offer the facility to cater for a class field trip?
Apple’s Covent Garden Store caters for several classes each and every week.