Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Looking at The Apple Customer Experience

It's not breaking news that Apple tends to evoke strong feelings amongst their customers. Indeed, "Apple has led the market for the past few years as one of the most innovative, most loved, and most powerful companies and brands in the world." according to stock market opinion and analysis website Seeking Alpha.

Apple products tend to be innovative and ground breaking, setting the bar high, but challenges like the much-complained-about Apple/AT&T partnership and competing technology available more easily or at lower prices do arise.

It's not just the products building Apple fans. So what is it that Apple is doing right to generate this sort of emotion in its customers?

Unique, coordinated customer experiences

This video below from the Wall Street Journal offers some interesting insights into the Apple retail training process that largely controls customer experiences within the store.

Customer-facing team members such as the "Genuis Bar" employees are trained to solve problems, rather than sell, and employee handbooks provide potential scripts for a wide variety of situations. According to this article on PCMag.com "Apple Store staff is forbidden to correct a customer who mispronounces the name of a product."

The in-store experience also extends to design. Developed by executives such as Millard Drexler, formerly of the Gap, and Ron Johnson (formerly of Target and now moving to JCPenney), Apple develops different stores in unique locations, although each has certain elements in common: an open plan, curved edges, natural materials such as wood, glass, stone, and stainless steel. The stores feel like a larger reflection of the products being sold there.

What can we learn from Apple's customer experience successes? This blog post points out ways to translate Apple's innovation to the restaurant industry, and it's easy to see how a corporate culture that balances innovative ideas with highly coordinated in-store experiences can extend to any industry.

What do you think of these inside views of Apple's training policies? Will the public learning of this negatively affect perceptions of the Apple experience? Share with us in the comments!

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing. She may be reached at mleblanc@iirusa.com.

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