This is a funny post because it combines a book review as well as my shopping expereince. Last week I finished reading Carmine Gallo’s new book The Apple Experience. The book deals with the a lot of the “hidden” or little things that makes up Apples Retail customer service. Key elements revolve around listening to the customer and building a relationship. Not every customer will buy something in that trip but they may in the future. That initial visit to the store could be very important.
Today I went to the Apple store to drool over the Retina MacBook Pro as well as the revamped 11“ MacBook Air. I was planning on making my decision but I needed to see the Retina for myself. A woman walked into the store at the same time I did. She was in her early to late 50’s early 60’s. We were both greeted and specialists were assigned to both of us. While we waited we went to the same table to begin looking at the new 15” Retina MacBook Pro. She was in the store first so the employee went up to her and asked her how he could help her today. This is an almost verbatim dialog that occurred:
Apple Emp: My name is Fred. How can I help you today?
Woman: Hi I am Carol. I need a new computer, for home. I work at a University and the guys there told me I should get a mac and gave me these specifications.
Apple Emp: Carol may I look at what they recommended?
Woman: Here you go. (She passes the paper to the employee)(I see this and it is the MAXED out 15″ Retina)
Apple Emp: (Laughs) Well they have great taste ! Is this for them or you?
Woman: It is for me and they told me I should get as much as I can.
Apple Emp: I understand. May I ask what you do with your computer? What programs you use most, how you use your computer, do you travel with it?
Woman: Well I use email and the internet to get recipes, I print things and occasionally I get a picture of my grandkids that I would like to save. We do go back and forth to Florida and trips to see our grand kids. Will this computer do that for me?
Apple Emp: Why yes it will.
And with that he could have stopped there and handed her the new machine. But he knew it was overkill. This is a classic example of using a bazooka to kill a mosquito. He helped to educate the consumer on what she was buying. This sale would have been upwards of $3799. I am sure if he was commissioned from a big box store the sale would have ended. But Apple retail employees are not and the goal is deliver a happy customer.
Apple Emp: Carol if I heard you correctly you do email, photos and 3 or 4 things a lot with your computer. This computer will do all of those things and more. It is an excellent machine and geared toward high end professionals. Would you be interested in looking at some other models that are less expensive and would also fulfill your computing needs?
With that he took her to see both the 13, and 15 MacBook Pros and then to the table to show the MacBook Airs for her. I was glad the store was busy and my specialist was delayed a few minutes because it allowed me to watch the ongoing interaction.
Fred explained the difference of the lines and the models. Pro first and then the Airs. When she saw the 11″ Air her face lit up and smiled as if she has see a new dawn.
Woman: I wish this computer would do what I need - it looks amazing. So small and beautiful.
Apple Emp: This will ! and more. This is a very powerful machine that will fit your needs now and still allow you to grow should your computing needs change. Do you like to rent movies?
Woman: Yes we do from Netflix online and the iTunes store. Can I watch a movie on this?
Apple Emp: Yes
She then went into a litany of little questions. Can it… Yes Can it… Yes Can it… Yes
Her face changed a little. She then became a little wary. Thinking how can she afford this tiny powerhouse that can do all these things AND print recipes. (one of the goals)
Woman: How much is this one?
Apple Emp: This model is $999 and the one with double the space is $1099. Woman: Really?
Apple Emp: We have both models here when and if you decide this is right for you. Woman: I will take the $1099 model.
Apple Emp: I think this is a wonderful choice for you and you will save more than $2400.
Apple Emp: Is there a problem that I did not address?
Woman: Can you help me prevent my husband from using it? Or should I just get him one as well.
Apple Emp: I am sorry I don’t have a device that will prevent his use. But you should bring him in if he likes yours and I can show him some options.
Again a commissioned sales representative might have got her the second computer to line their pocket with money. But instead Fred invited her to come back with her husband and make a decision then. Watching this type of customer service mirrors exactly what Carmie talks about in his book. Needless to say my time at the store was equally pleasant and productinve. I walked out of their with an 11″ MacBook Air loaded up.
These ideas are not really earth shattering, to me it is common sense. This type of service is what other companies should strive for as well. It just makes sense. If you have any interest in learning how to deliver an exceptional customer expereince you should read this book !