How Steve thought differently…

Getting the work done

Andy Inathko’s CWOB recently posted a piece about his experiences at his local Apple Store, and all I can say is that the store training must be very good, because my recent trip was scarily similar.

Having purchased a shiny new iPhone 4 after my 3GS contract came to it’s end, I started to experience a dodgy home button.

Every now and again the home button didn’t work. I ignored it, but after it had gotten so bad that I had to hard-restart the phone, I took the problem more seriously. After a trip to www.apple.com/support, various workarounds were:

1) Pressing it really hard (not a good idea)

2) Blowing on it (it worked sometimes)

3) Plugging in the connector (that seemed to work almost every time)

But after the phone was about a month old, with the problem getting worse, I decided to visit the place I bought it – The Carphone Warehouse.

I entered the store and waited for nearly an hour, whilst the 4-5 people in front of me each in turn sat down at the 2 desks available, and each salesperson in turn, sold them a phone.

And a maintenance contract. And a phone cover. And a broadband service. And a maintenance cover for their phone cover and ther broadband service.

I finally sat down and they grunted at me that they would only swap it out if it was less than a month old. Did I want to pay to send it to their repair service. Did I want phone cover. Did I want a maintenance cover. Did I want broadband.

I did not. I did leave. I did though decide to visit my local Apple Store.

I made an appointment online, a visited the store late one rainy Thursday evening.

The store was packed, and I mean packed. My local store is very small, probably no more than 7 metres wide, by 30-40 metres deep, just about enough room for 2 long tables down either side and a central walkway down to the genius bar at the back.

As I entered I saw a few blue shirts walking around and after chatting, and the blue shirt confirming my appointment on an iPad, I was guided to the genius bar, where I was advised they were running about 20 minutes late.

That was fine, I was in no rush and I played around with Lion on a huge 27″ iMac for a while.

After a few minutes I started to people watch and several things struck me:

1) A very old disabled couple (one in a wheelchair, one with a zimmerframe) were being shown by a very patient blue shirt, a brand new MacBook Air’s Universal Access feature. After they were happy, the blue shirt guided them through the very busy store out to a seat opposite the store where they sat with them for a while until their family came along to collect them.

2) 2 teenage girls came along with their mother with a battered old 3GS that had quite clearly gotten wet (it had rust for goodness sake). They walked away with a brand new iPhone, giggiling insanely.

3) A girl came with a MacBookPro that was extremely hot, and kept shutting down. They identified her issue was a keyboard cover that had got moisture behind it. She walked out with a new MacBookPro (she had AppleCare).

It was then my turn. I explained my problem, but when they blue shirt tested it, he couldn’t repeat the issue (it was intermittent). He swapped it for a brand new iPhone, no questions asked.

Whilst I was there, the store never emptied of smiling happy people, playing with the Mac’s, and seeing what they could do with them.

I left the store a happy customer, and I suppose the other 1000’s of customers that visited that rainy Thursday did too.

The iMac I am now typing this article on has just turned one years old and I have spent the money to buy Applecare.

I hopt I don’t have to use it, but in someways I do, because I want that experience again, and I know I’ll get it.

What Steve did with the Apple Stores doesn’t seem that difficult does it? He just put the customer first. He made the whole experience a good one. No scratch that – an awesome one.

I’ve explained the experience I’ve had to various PC-types, and bar none – they don’t believe me.

It seems that places like The Carphone Warehouse have convinced the buying public that putting the customer last and extracting as much money out of them as possible is  the norm.

And people wonder why Apple is the most valuable company on planet earth.

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