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August 29, 2012 3:31 PM   Subscribe

The alternative to admitting that it simply sucks when an Apple TV is bricked or phone shatters, Geniuses are taught to employ the "Three Fs: Feel, Felt, and Found. This works especially well when the customer is mistaken or has bad information…"
Customer: This Mac is just too expensive. Genius: I can see how you'd feel this way. I felt the price was a little high, but I found it's a real value because of all the built-in software and capabilities…
The maneuver is brilliant. The Genius has switched places with the customer. He is she and she is he, and maybe that laptop isn't too expensive after all. He Found it wasn't, at least.
Apple's secret employee training manual for its "Geniuses" as revealed by Gizmodo.
posted by grouse (139 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
Jedi mind tricks won't work on m... OOO SHINY!
posted by mazola at 3:34 PM on August 29, 2012 [22 favorites]


Yeah, the shiny does about 95% of the work there.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:36 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Remember, it's not a bug, it's a situation.

Insert usual suspects complaining about this being Gawker media.
posted by kafziel at 3:38 PM on August 29, 2012


I can see why you'd feel that way. I felt like it was, as well, but I've found that it's not.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:39 PM on August 29, 2012 [15 favorites]


This training material isn't substantially different from what other tech companies put together.

Gizmodo's attempt to portray it as some weird attempt at psychological engineering rather than the norm for corporate training is petty at best.
posted by truex at 3:39 PM on August 29, 2012 [58 favorites]


Jedi mind tricks

I wonder how far along the notion of calling them "Apple Jedi" ever got, during the planning phase for the Apple stores.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:40 PM on August 29, 2012


Gizmodo: petty at best
posted by dumbland at 3:41 PM on August 29, 2012 [12 favorites]


The one time I bought an Apple product in the store rather than online was pretty great, because the clerk was all "So, you must be a student. Right?" and I was all "Uhhhhhh....Yes, yes I am!"

I approve of that sales technique is what I'm saying.
posted by rtha at 3:41 PM on August 29, 2012 [24 favorites]


You'd think since Gizmodo has the entire manual, they'd let us see it too, wouldn't you? Turns out they're selfish little pishers.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:42 PM on August 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


some weird attempt at psychological engineering rather than the norm for corporate training

You say "poetaytoe", I say "poetahtoe"...
posted by asterix at 3:42 PM on August 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


Gizmodo? Petty? These are the guys who walked around a trade show turning off TVs during peoples' speeches.

Petty is probably the nicest thing I'll think of them this year.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 3:43 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


It should go without saying that Apple is not unique or even slightly unusual in doing this.
posted by Egg Shen at 3:44 PM on August 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


How dare Apple try to train employees to sell its products. In its own store even, the nerve!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:45 PM on August 29, 2012 [31 favorites]


Well this and constant re-screening of Alec Baldwin's scenes in Glengarry Glen Ross in the break room.
posted by PenDevil at 3:45 PM on August 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


You know as much as the article about it is full of loaded words like "psychological mastery" and "capitalizing on human emotions" and "indoctrination", I'm reminded, as I read it, of the time I went to Best Buy to buy a TV to replace the one I'd left my parent's home with. It was the first big adult purchase I was going to make -- but I was definitely going to make it because the TV at home was broken. I didn't really ask for any help because TVs were much simpler back then and/or I paid more attention to such things.

But when it came time to check out, I was able to eventually get some help to load the TV into a cart. But checking out was a huge fucking fiasco. And I ended up walking out with it in the cart - a big money (especially for me at the time) sale that they easily lost.

A couple of hours of empathy training seems like a good idea for retail stores that want to keep making money, that's all I'm saying.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:45 PM on August 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


ABC Apple Be Closing
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:47 PM on August 29, 2012 [19 favorites]


Oddly enough, Apple's strategy is also an effective means of dealing with toddlers.
posted by docgonzo at 3:47 PM on August 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


The excellent Black Books episode with the guest spot by Simon Pegg got this bang on.
Highlights 1
Highlights 2
Highlights 3
posted by merocet at 3:47 PM on August 29, 2012 [19 favorites]


Fucking training!

Back in my day you went to a mom and pop computer store and they treated you like an idiot and talked down to you until you proved you could handle the tech you were trying to buy. Now people who work with technology have to be nice, and polite, and take showers. I'm sick of this shit. Technology for Techies I say. If they can't pass a simple quiz on what they are trying to buy, take a hike. And ladies, make sure to bring your husband or father to talk you through it.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:49 PM on August 29, 2012 [43 favorites]


I can understand why apple feel they have to sell their product this way. I felt that black-arts marketing was the only way to succeed in a market where everyone was more successful than me, but I found that i was actually the biggest dog in the park and what I was doing was pretty skeevy.
posted by zoo at 3:50 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


The feel felt found thing is hardly some level 7 secret apple mind trick, that exact phraseology is ancient sales lore.
posted by Pre-Taped Call In Show at 3:50 PM on August 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


I can see how you'd feel like these are the droids you're looking for. I felt they might be those very droids, but I found that they aren't those droids at all. Would you like a lightsaber?
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:50 PM on August 29, 2012 [34 favorites]


I foresee a drinking game.
posted by chavenet at 3:53 PM on August 29, 2012


I won't click on gawker. I'm kind of annoyed at Nick Denton right now.
posted by crunchland at 3:54 PM on August 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


This isn't very weird, actually. I did customer service on the phone years and years ago. "Feel / Felt / Found" was standard in the industry then, and it'd be surprising if Apple didn't use it, given its effectiveness.
posted by koeselitz at 3:56 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pretty standard sales technique, hardly limited to Apple. Set up the customer's perception of value of what you're selling and pretend you're not selling it, let them make the choice to buy it alone, as it were.

But when it came time to check out, I was able to eventually get some help to load the TV into a cart. But checking out was a huge fucking fiasco.

Indeed. Buying a television for my father was an ordeal. My favourite part of it was when the sales guy implied we should be very happy about getting a discount on calibrating the television for accurate colour and my sister's response was, "You're going to sell me a $2000 tv that isn't colour accurate?" We turned down all the extras and close to 1/2 hour later finally got out of the fucking place. As you say, even checkout was an ordeal. Should have taken 5 minutes. The gift cards that paid for most of it kept us there. Don't sell someone something when they're already sold on it.
posted by juiceCake at 3:57 PM on August 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Working in sales is already like the most depressing, soul-stomping job imaginable. If I also had to suffer through my asshole bosses referring to me as "Genius," I'd eat a fucking gun. Like having "FelliniBlank, Tsar" or "Hi, I'm Fellini, Your Miss Universe" printed on my shitty plastic nametag is somehow going to make me forget the fundamental awfulness of my commission slavery.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:58 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


That's just basic sales training. I've told people to say similar things when they're selling insurance, or wine.
posted by gronkpan at 4:04 PM on August 29, 2012


Yeah, I'm with the folks who don't think they've cracked a mystical Codex or anything. You do any kind of face-to-face tech or sales work long enough and your whole day can just wind up being verbal tricks.

The flip side is you can get really annoyed when it's done badly. I bought my first ever iPad from a Big Box store a couple months ago and the rep tried to sell me on paying for having it setup, heavily implying I would brick it if I did it wrong.
posted by Cyrano at 4:06 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Hi. Welcome to the Apple Store. Would you like to try and convince me you deserve one of our products?"
posted by Davenhill at 4:06 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would like to complain about this being Gawker media.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:07 PM on August 29, 2012


I could see how these sorts of sales tactics could be shocking....

If you lived in a cave, with no lights, and a blanket over your head. And your fingers in your ears. On Mars.

This is textbook bottom-tier sales stuff.
posted by Dark Messiah at 4:07 PM on August 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


If they've got customer service all figured out, maybe they could spend a little time improving that piece of shit reservation system that has never once worked for me unless I'm making the reservation from in the store, at which point I'm already wasting an hour.
posted by jacalata at 4:11 PM on August 29, 2012


Most interesting thing to me about this story: wondering who's going to get fired for giving it to Gizmodo/leaving the manual where Gizmodo got it.
posted by immlass at 4:12 PM on August 29, 2012


Ughh... "Geniuses."

Apple needs to provide them with a manual on how to not come across as completely pretentious assholes. I mean, I like Apple products as much as the next guy, but I can't stand being in their stores any longer than I absolutely have to.
posted by Kevtaro at 4:12 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I would like to complain about this being Gawker media.

I can see why you feel that way. I felt that way myself on first reading the post, but I've found a great outlet for my annoyance!
posted by Aizkolari at 4:13 PM on August 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


I can see how you'd feel Gawker media is crap. I felt that they were a POS too, but I found that they were also wankers.
posted by arcticseal at 4:13 PM on August 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


I feel that I had a great riff on Devils Rancher's comment, felt that I got there first, but found that Aizkolari beat me to it.
posted by arcticseal at 4:15 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Feel Felt Found is Salesmantalk 101. Big whoop.

If y'all are ever bored and want something useful to read, read some sales manuals a la Zig Ziglar. You will be amazed how you have been led by the nose backwards and forwards in the past.

(I even call out my husband when he tries an Assumptive Close on me. Heh.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:22 PM on August 29, 2012 [11 favorites]


OK OK, I get it, Gawker.

I can see how you feel that you are being reasonable and fair towards Apple. I, too, felt that you didn't have an axe to grind, but then I read yet another breathlessly hyperbolic article attempting to paint Apple in a bad light with no particular evidence of badness.

(In other words, Apple wants to sell products to customers??? Who would have thought?)
posted by muddgirl at 4:22 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


> That's just basic sales training. I've told people to say similar things when they're selling insurance, or wine.

I don't know that I hate anything worse, on a personal level, than being sold something. It could be the best fucking product in the history of capitalism, but if buying it involves being subjected to lines of sell-speak horseshit* I will do my best to go without it.

* I still have bad dreams about the time I bought a car
posted by "But who are the Chefs?" at 4:23 PM on August 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


We bought our TV at Costco, and took our brother-out-law with us because he knows more about this stuff than we do (and he has a bigger car). It being Costco, we weren't expecting a Customer Service Experience.

We ended up being there for much longer than we anticipated because other customers overheard Todd talking with us about this feature or that, and started asking him for advice. I went off to stand in line with the TV and Todd was still in the TV section, answering questions.
posted by rtha at 4:24 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, I defy anyone to show me an employee training manual - for any job, anywhere - that doesn't make you want to kill yourself.
posted by "But who are the Chefs?" at 4:25 PM on August 29, 2012 [18 favorites]


If my computer has crashed it will only enrage me further if you try to phrase that crash as something more benign. It's like a red flag to a bull. Also if you say you feel what I feel. No you don't, unless your rage at the sodding thing crashing is imbued with the fiery, molten blaze of a 1,000 suns.

This is why my trips to Mac stores are never happy occasions for anyone.

(And I thought it was interesting seeing it all laid out. We all know people do it, but there's something creepy about seeing the doublespeak right there on the printed page. Though I am surprised that they don't make their staff have it tatooed on their bodies at their own expense.)
posted by lesbiassparrow at 4:33 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


engadget, gizmodo... we need another player in this game, just to make it interesting. Let's see:

$ whois dorkolepsy.com

Whois Server Version 2.0

Domain names in the .com and .net domains can now be registered
with many different competing registrars. Go to http://www.internic.net
for detailed information.

No match for "DORKOLEPSY.COM".
>>> Last update of whois database: Wed, 29 Aug 2012 23:26:28 UTC


Woohoo, don't get between me and kickstarter right now!
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:36 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


truex: "This training material isn't substantially different from what other tech companies put together."

Didn't Microsoft once tell of its customer service reps they could no longer say the word "bug" anymore?
posted by zarq at 4:37 PM on August 29, 2012


In other news: Pope wears funny hat.
posted by howfar at 4:38 PM on August 29, 2012


OK, now let's talk rust-proofing. These iPads will rust up on you like--Shut Up, Gil! Close the deal, close the deal!
posted by ShutterBun at 4:38 PM on August 29, 2012 [10 favorites]


Back in my day you went to a mom and pop computer store and they treated you like an idiot and talked down to you until you proved you could handle the tech you were trying to buy.

Back in your day? When I went to Staples in 2011 to buy a laptop (I had a particular Staples-exclusive model in mind, for Reasons) they grilled me about it for half an hour before they let me buy it. I think this is because they tried to sell me antivirus software and I said I didn't need it since I was going to put Linux on it .

Also because I am a girl. Possibly.

But seriously, I wish we got this much customer service training at my workplace. Maybe they don't see the need because we don't turn a profit, but I've seen so many situations that could have been fixed just by being a little nicer and a little more empathetic.
posted by Jeanne at 4:40 PM on August 29, 2012


Also, 'Genius Bar'. Given that I cringe every time I have to say or type it, why don't they just change it to something less off-putting like Rapist Shack?
posted by howfar at 4:41 PM on August 29, 2012 [10 favorites]


Why are some of you under the impression this training manual is aimed at increasing sales?

That was written to give high-rotation, fire-as-you-please sale-employees the impression they got through training, to ispire them some confidence that they are not utterly replaceable cogs and that they were taught valuable sekrut-jedi-sale skills, plus some "don't" like naming a spade a spade when they are under the impression they have seen one; natural sales people are a rarity (and some of them are also sociopaths) and are hired in better paid sales positions, like finance.
posted by elpapacito at 4:41 PM on August 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


OK, now let's talk rust-proofing. These iPads will rust up on you like--Shut Up, Gil! Close the deal, close the deal!

Ha! A couple of weeks ago, a Radio Shack, excuse me, I meant to say THE SHACK® assistant manager tried to sell me a three-year extended service and replacement plan for a $19.95 burner phone. COME ON.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:43 PM on August 29, 2012


Annnnnd...Psych sales techniques are different elsewhere...how? Or, is it because they're successful at Apple stores? I suspect the manual at the Microsoft store(s) teaches similar techniques.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:44 PM on August 29, 2012


I think this is because they tried to sell me antivirus software and I said I didn't need it since I was going to put Linux on it .

Oh man, they gave you an option to have antivirus on it? Awesome. Last time I bought a Windows laptop, it came complete with 17 different bullshit unnecessary pieces of bloatware (protip: Windows already has widgets to connect to wifi or change your screen resolution, I don't need extra ones) without me having to ask for anything!
posted by Jimbob at 4:44 PM on August 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


I would, however, prefer to be considered one of the more unusual suspects.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:45 PM on August 29, 2012


a three-year extended service and replacement plan for a $19.95 burner phone.

Hey, check it out, Marlo! I got all the phones you asked for, plus the extended care warra-BLAM!
posted by ShutterBun at 4:47 PM on August 29, 2012 [11 favorites]


Like having "FelliniBlank, Tsar" or "Hi, I'm Fellini, Your Miss Universe" printed on my shitty plastic nametag is somehow going to make me forget the fundamental awfulness of my commission slavery.


Did I ever mention the time at my previous job when our CIO thought it would be a great idea for the tech support team to be called "Laptop Doctors"? We were fine with this, whatever, name change for the first week of school makes sense, I guess.

But no, turns out he wanted a "The Doctor is IN" booth, he wanted labcoats, he wanted stethascopes. Thank the Lord for middle manages with the wisdom to say "No, we're too busy doing work to figure out where to source head mirrors."
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 4:51 PM on August 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


they grilled me about it for half an hour before they let me buy it.

I'm guessing that there's often a fine line between condescension, and "making sure a particular product is a good fit for that customer."

It would certainly save time overall if they were able to determine from the outset that a particular model was "too much computer" for someone, or was likely to have them constantly coming back to the store for free help/exchanges, etc.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:53 PM on August 29, 2012


they grilled me about it for half an hour before they let me buy it. I

That sucks. Before I knew that I didn't have to put up with bullshit I would walk into any computer or book store anticipating how it would go, with them peppering me with questions and giving me snide looks over what I was buying. That is what killed small shops, I liked small bookstores but I don't need to engage in literary one upsmanship. When I worked at a video store and a comic store in college I made sure never to try to lord my movie knowledge over customers. I sat there in the store watching tapes all day and having conversations with odd neckbeard cinemaphiles. My customers had jobs and kids. I may have made up reviews and plot synopsis on the spot, but only I'd they asked me.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:55 PM on August 29, 2012


Last time I bought a Windows laptop, it came complete with 17 different bullshit unnecessary pieces of bloatware

Microsoft Stores sell laptops with not-having-bloatware being a strong selling point ("Microsoft Signature"). They're basically highlighting the fact that it's the hardware vendors, not Microsoft, that have been preloading up their machines with crapware for the last 15 years. It's a bit like the whole Surface thing, they're having to take the lead* and show hardware vendors how not to suck.

(* inspired by Apple, of course)
posted by rh at 4:59 PM on August 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


Well this and constant re-screening of Alec Baldwin's scenes in Glengarry Glen Ross in the break room.

You know what it takes to sell Apple products? It takes brushed aluminum balls to sell Apple products.
posted by HeroZero at 4:59 PM on August 29, 2012 [15 favorites]


FEARLESS GRAR
Mefite A: "Hello Mefite B, I really appreciate your deep analysis on that platter of starchy but protein rich food. However, I fear you may have over-evaluated the food."
Mefite B: "Oh, I did not think of that in my personal journey to understand the beans."
Mefite A: "When you overevaluate foodstuffs, it can distract from other aspects of your development as a Mefite."
Mefite B: "Thank you, I will consider that in the future."

PS:

Don't say: HOPE ME
Say: [Send private message to administrator]

Don't say: FIAMO
Say: "I can see how you'd be upset at this article, and desire to thread-defecate. When I last wanted to thread-defecate, I found it more satisfying to use the flag feature and evacuate the thread."

Don't say: BUTTS, LOL
Say: "The height of wit is asses."

Don't say: DTMFA
Say: "Perhaps you would like to consider upgrading to a new partner? I once felt breaking up would be an arduous process, but I found leaving the partner for a better one was a positive step, and I feel it's important to do it quickly."
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:06 PM on August 29, 2012 [17 favorites]


Also, back in my day, training involved being eaten by a rapping VHS tape.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:12 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Apple products don't sweat, they glisten.
posted by drezdn at 5:20 PM on August 29, 2012


I would love to reverse this script and have some fun.

Salesclerk: Would you like AppleCare?
Customer: I can see why you'd feel this notebook might fail in just over a year. I felt so too! But then I realized that Chinese electronics workers have nimble little hands and more likely to be extraordinarily precise robots than ever!
posted by zippy at 5:24 PM on August 29, 2012 [22 favorites]


Working in sales is already like the most depressing, soul-stomping job imaginable. If I also had to suffer through my asshole bosses referring to me as "Genius," I'd eat a fucking gun. Like having "FelliniBlank, Tsar" or "Hi, I'm Fellini, Your Miss Universe" printed on my shitty plastic nametag is somehow going to make me forget the fundamental awfulness of my commission slavery.

This might be as good a place as any to point out that "Genius" does NOT equal "Apple Store Employee".

The kid that greeted you on your way in?

Not a Genius.

The college-age gal that sold you your iThing?

Not a Genius.

Geniuses troubleshoot and repair Macs, hence the "Genius Bar".

That is all.
posted by tantrumthecat at 5:28 PM on August 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm guessing that there's often a fine line between condescension, and "making sure a particular product is a good fit for that customer."

Umm, yeah, so this is a good part of why I now buy most of my computer gear online. Where they never presume that they know better than I what may be the better fit.
posted by tyllwin at 5:33 PM on August 29, 2012


So what you're saying, tantrumthecat, is that the news bit of this story is that Apple Geniuses are also trying to sell us Apple products?

Still not very shocked.
posted by muddgirl at 5:34 PM on August 29, 2012


Not sure why this is news, this is pretty much Sales 101.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:40 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hate sales speak.

Recently, I asked the department manager in charge of tablets at work the benefits of our Tablets over a Nexus 7. His note back to me was sale speak along the lines of "Our outstanding free customer service is the difference. So YOU are the major difference between our products and Nexus 7." Blech.
posted by drezdn at 5:41 PM on August 29, 2012


When I need a chuckle two things make me laugh:

Apple Genius.

Redditor.
posted by Splunge at 5:42 PM on August 29, 2012


You'd think since Gizmodo has the entire manual, they'd let us see it too, wouldn't you? Turns out they're selfish little pishers.

Presumably they lack the copyrights to publish it themselves.
"It's not our fault! The law demands that we be a selfish little tease!"
posted by anonymisc at 5:57 PM on August 29, 2012


Apple makes great products (I bought an SE in 1988, so don't call me a hater), but the company itself and the people in it, at least the ones I've encountered, reminds me of Scientology.

But come to think of it, ALL salespeople remind me of Scientologists these days, with the exceptions of (good) book and record clerks. Just yesterday I was in a large bicycle emporium, and I'm almost positive that the three people who helped me were androids (not phones). Speaking of which, when I bought my phone the sales guy demonstrated all 128,316 features of my phone in under eight minutes in what I think was a single breath, never once looking at me. At the end of this period I still had no idea how to make a call, of course.
posted by Fnarf at 5:58 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Geniuses troubleshoot and repair Macs, hence the "Genius Bar".

Thanks for the clarification. It's still an obnoxious name regardless of which employees it applies to. Actually valuing employees should make it unnecessary to come up with some phony-ass patronizing (or cutely ironic?) "OMG YOU ARE SO SO SPECIAL" appellation for them. I'm trying to remember anytime in the last decade when I heard someone (other than a MacArthur fellow) called "genius" non-mockingly.

Or maybe it's just part of Apple's onanistic branding: We're so great all our techfolk are geniuses! Every Little League player gets a trophy just for showing up! Still, JC Penney calling me a lah-di-dah-di-dah "associate" in 1977 didn't make me any less a prole cashier.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:00 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Should I, for any ungodly reason, have need to go into an Apple store and make use of the Genius Bar, I am going to want a real genius. With documentation. MENSA membership. Test scores. All of it.

Then, once I have established the credentials of the Genius, I will hand them my eyepod and dare them to say a thing about it.
posted by cmyk at 6:00 PM on August 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


Did I ever mention the time at my previous job when our CIO thought it would be a great idea for the tech support team to be called "Laptop Doctors"? We were fine with this, whatever, name change for the first week of school makes sense, I guess.

But no, turns out he wanted a "The Doctor is IN" booth, he wanted labcoats, he wanted stethascopes. Thank the Lord for middle manages with the wisdom to say "No, we're too busy doing work to figure out where to source head mirrors."


I understand this would suck for you. But I like the cut of your CIO's jib.
posted by bitdamaged at 6:18 PM on August 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


I like the idea of wearing scrubs. All the time I spent crawling around under desks in khakis, I would have put up with having to carry around tongue depressors and those cool rubber knee mallets if I could have worn scrubs.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:22 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


That sucks. Before I knew that I didn't have to put up with bullshit I would walk into any computer or book store anticipating how it would go, with them peppering me with questions and giving me snide looks over what I was buying. That is what killed small shops, I liked small bookstores but I don't need to engage in literary one upsmanship. When I worked at a video store and a comic store in college I made sure never to try to lord my movie knowledge over customers. I sat there in the store watching tapes all day and having conversations with odd neckbeard cinemaphiles. My customers had jobs and kids. I may have made up reviews and plot synopsis on the spot, but only I'd they asked me.

Bernard Black....of Black's Books....is that you?
posted by kurosawa's pal at 6:35 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is why I like Microcenter. Yeah, they'll sell me stuff if I want that, but they'll also cheerfully direct me to the shelf with 28 different mother boards on it, 57 kinds of memory, 35 different power supplies or 42 different boxes to put the whole mess in. And then they'll leave me the hell alone while I decide what I want.

In a truly just world, if someone tells you that your bricked electronics geegaw represent a really good value, I think you ought to have carte blanche to break one of their legs and then point out how thankful they should be that you didn't break both of them.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:37 PM on August 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


Confessions from the Most Corrupt Apple Store in America
posted by homunculus at 6:40 PM on August 29, 2012


I hate this sales-speak almost as much as I hate pick-up-artist lingo. It's just so fake. Being honest and genuine might not sell the most products (or pick up the most women) but it really does make the world a better place.
posted by smorange at 6:46 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I liked the vaguely nerdoid TV Documentary-style investigation of Apple as a "Superbrand" by Alex Riley. The Apple sales approach, exported to the UK, has a certain flavour all its own, and Riley gets some of this. Waiting for Louis Theroux to really get it down...
posted by meehawl at 6:49 PM on August 29, 2012


I hate this sales-speak almost as much as I hate pick-up-artist lingo. It's just so fake. Being honest and genuine might not sell the most products (or pick up the most women) but it really does make the world a better place.

The offensive part, which I think a lot of people here are glossing over, is that these aren't salespeople. This is the tech support team, the hardware repair people. These are the last people who should be using sales-speak to mollycoddle and patronize you, minimizing your issues and trying to push crap.
posted by kafziel at 6:54 PM on August 29, 2012


My macbook had some problems a couple months ago, and I took it to the Genius Bar.

They were able to fix it for me on the spot, without having to send it off to be serviced as the customer service call center folks said would be the case. It took about ten minutes. I still have six months on my AppleCare, so the whole thing was free.

Everything just... worked out. As planned. Better than planned.

I know OMG EVIL EMPIRE JEDI MIND TRICKS and everything, but seriously, nine times out of ten the geniuses are pretty geniusey.

This is the tech support team, the hardware repair people.

I'm not sure this is the case. Tech support people usually aren't required to sell computers to people. The initial dialogue offered up by Gizmodo implies that we're talking about sales people, not support people. While I'll admit their sales people can be a bit... optimistic at times (ooooooh the guy who led me to believe their One To One service offered tutorials and support on Adobe Creative Suite...), the service folks have never been anything but awesome.

And Apple did let me return the One To One membership after I explained that I'd been blatantly lied to by their salesperson. So there's that.
posted by Sara C. at 7:14 PM on August 29, 2012


This is a lot more amusing if you imagine it as a manual for Applebee's.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:15 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


So I work part-time for an "Apple Certified Re-seller", I recently completed the online sales training that allows me to call myself an "Apple Product Professional", my diploma and lapel pin are in the mail. My store is independently owned/operated, but Apple still calls a lot of shots. The online sales training isn't nearly as EST/Zig Zigler/Tony Robbins as this manual seems to be, but the hints of it are there. The parts that stood out for me in the online training at least:

1) Kinda out of date, I had to take little quizzes to prove I'd learned the material and sometimes there were no right answers if you kept up with the tech specs of the new machines, I had to give a wrong answer to get certified as a product professional, that was pretty funny.

2) The multi-culti nightmare narrative of the sales dialog examples were hilarious/painful.

Achmed, a vaguely pan-arab/middle-eastern dude in a cardigan save me from the fucking cardigans and the chunky frame black glasses in Apples aspirational customer universe (interested in upgrading to the new 15" macbook pro): Will I be able to do x with the new Macbook?

ASP, cute, pan-asian girl w/ chunky black glasses: Yes you will, and this and that and Applecare and blah blah blah.

Reality:

Customer, usually either a well to do upper middle-class white woman who apparently just slammed a bottle of white wine in the parking lot or a Methy-hyper contractor guy, a bored dad/mom buying kiddos college computer, an older person who just wants the nerd to fix his/her computer: Can you fix this?

Me, a 36 year old weirdo with transitions lenses that are stuck in that mild tint phase so I look kinda like a possible molester/russian furniture sales man (I'm saving up for some better glasses, something in chunky black I think): Probably, did you spill water all over it or did you grandchildren borrow it to be naked on chat roulette or did you delete half the essential files for some crazy reason, or did something actually break on the computer in which case our tech is going to either fix it himself while listening to death metal or put in a box and send it to Apple, 1 to 3 business days no matter what.

Actually I enjoy my job, it's my first ever proper retail job (not service job) and I have fun, 80% of the people that come in are really nice and the rest get made fun of relentlessly as soon as they leave.

My most common joke I run is when someone comes in and says "So are you one of those Geniuses?" and I say "I'm actually an idiot-savant, it's a trial program, if you want a genius you're gonna need to go to Hingham, Providence or Boston."

I also like when people ask me to set up their ipads, I want to say: Well you got yourself here so you can clearly move around independently and you clearly have working eyes and fingers and we are speaking to each other in complete English sentences, so you can totally do it yourself.

What I do say is: Sure I can, that will be $20.

Now it sounds like I'm down on the general non-computer savvy public, but I'm not, I also volunteer at the library helping people use computers and I have to say I'm nice and patient and non-condescending to a fault, there's tons of shit I don't know how to do, who am I to be a dick, people need help with computers, especially older people and people who haven't had great educational opportunities, it makes me feel great to help them. It's not till I get paid to do it that I get angry, weird, huh?

I'm nice to everybody who comes in to my store, except the teenagers who come in to riot and and set all the desktops to trollface.jpg, I throw them out with gusto. Can't stand sub/ex-urban teenagers, with their loafs of hair across their foreheads and their dead eyes and their YOLO.

In conclusion: Apple makes good, but pricey computers, most people are nice, some people are jerks, after you quit drinking you can smell white wine on someone from a mile away and teenagers should be kept in barrels till they are 25 years old. Oh also, I had to give a computer lesson to a pair of swiss/american swingers and that was a fucking trip and a half, they share the same email address, I don't know why either.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:26 PM on August 29, 2012 [31 favorites]


oh also, I guess because we are an indie shop, I can fix stuff at the counter if it's simple- software, simple hardware problem like a loose video connector (and the tech is teaching me to do more which is cool of him), so the "genius"/sales divide is murkier with the authorized re-sellers, who are apparently a dying breed.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:29 PM on August 29, 2012


I used to work as a GM in a MUD. We had a command that would say to the player "I understand how you feel." At least from their perspective. To us, it would look like we said "Rot in hell, scumwad!!!"

(And yeah, that was the extent of my customer service. It's good to be an engineer.)
posted by Foosnark at 8:11 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


In conclusion: Apple makes good, but pricey computers

The price is equal to the computer. I mean, I get what you're saying. But there's simply a price point Apple does not compete at. It's not like a 600 dollar laptop from Best Buy is equal to a 999 dollar air from Apple (some people may claim so, but 5 minutes with each should change any unbiased mind).

Gizmodo's attempt to portray it as some weird attempt at psychological engineering rather than the norm for corporate training is petty at best.

Not only is Gizmodo a terrible tech site, but Jesus Diaz is in the running for worst tech journalist in the world. He's so bad, I have little doubt he's realized just how devoid of talent he is and is now just trying to be be so worthless he becomes legend.
posted by justgary at 8:15 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have no experience with the Genius Bar, but my experience with the phone people at apple.com, which I have a lot of, is not good.

I come away, each time, thinking, if these conversations are actually being recorded for quality control purposes, then the quality control people are asleep at their desks.

I do not know whether these apple.com people are truly stupid, but my experiences with them lead me to have those thoughts.
posted by Danf at 8:28 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Geez everyone is pretty bent out of shape for Apple having guidelines for their staff to deal with customers.

I get that everyone here is super-smart and can go to any shop and buy the most appropriate item with perfect independence and panache, but not everyone can.
posted by chiquitita at 8:30 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't like Apple Retail Stores? Support your local indie Mac shop! Most of them have been doing it for longer than Apple has had their own retail presence.

Genius is definitely a loaded term, but what is better? Technician doesn't really encapsulate the full spectrum of what these guys and gals do.

There are nearly 400 Apple stores worldwide. I'm sure there's a leeway from market to market & store to store but have you ever been NEAR a store on a weekend? The last thing Geniuses care about is selling you more things, they want to fix your problem as quick as possible to get to the next one after you.
posted by now i'm piste at 8:38 PM on August 29, 2012


Dear Internet,

Specialists sell.
Creatives train.
Geniuses fix.
FRS's $wap.


#despitewhatthecommercialsaid
#makeanappointment
#thatisall
posted by now i'm piste at 8:39 PM on August 29, 2012


This is fascinating. I've wondered how Apple does such a good job of making the experience in their stores so pleasant. (I always suspected they stole ideas from In-N-Out)

Truly I'm surprised at how straightforward it is. Either there are some important steps missing, or capitalism has some explaining to do for why more businesses haven't stumbled onto this recipe before.

One of the big takeaways is that Apple employees are more focused on making the customer feel comfortable in their stores than pushing the products. Simple. Apple didn't invent this, they just found a way to do it better than most. And apparently this booklet is a big part of it.

So why all the negativity? Does it ruin the mystique to learn that employees were given training and scripts to help them interact better with customers? Surely this is far preferable to the high pressure and/or dishonest tactics salespeople learn at other businesses.

Sure, rephrasing computer problems, etc. into Applespeak has an ironically Orwellian flavor, if you want to over-analyze it. But it's also a helpful way to diffuse difficult situations, which is more valuable than snark. To most people, anyway (if not always me).

So how are these methods anything other than good things that more businesses should copy?
posted by Davenhill at 8:54 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Guys! GUYS! I just found out about a thing that affects virtually everyone in an equal fashion!"

"Ennhhhh…"

"…but it ALSO affects APPLE PRODUCTS"

"OH SHIT WELL WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? TOSS THAT STORY UP ON THE INTERNET AND GET SOME PAGE HITS"
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:54 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I come away, each time, thinking, if these conversations are actually being recorded for quality control purposes, then the quality control people are asleep at their desks.

Oh God, yes. I have found their phone customer service the very worst imaginable. They've never solved a problem for me, but boy have they managed to waste hours of my time while doing it.
posted by yoink at 9:22 PM on August 29, 2012


"Guys! GUYS! I just found out about a thing that affects virtually everyone in an equal fashion!"

Isn't that kinda by definition an interesting story? I think this thread goes more like:

"Guys! GUYS! I have found out this interesting angle on the way big corporations train their sales staff to manipulate customers!"

"Oh great, we love stories about the evil things big corporations do! Bring it on!"

"Well, it's about Apple's training manual, see, and..."

"THAT'S NOT FUNNY!!!! WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS PICKING ON APPLE! LEAVE APPLE ALONE!!!"
posted by yoink at 9:25 PM on August 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Genius is definitely a loaded term, but what is better? Technician doesn't really encapsulate the full spectrum of what these guys and gals do.

Given that technician is the job title of the folks who built a robot that is currently rolling around Mars zapping rocks with a laser in its head, I'm really stumped as to what it is these guys and gals do that technician doesn't cover (beyond applying child psychology to customer complaints).
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:29 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Interesting. The one Apple product I've had was an iPod I got for free. Trying to sort out a problem with it was the worst, most annoying and insipid customer service experience I've ever had (in a western country).

Probably not a coincidence that I've never purchased an Apple product.

Tagged along with a friend who bought an iPad at another Apple store and we both thought the people were borderline-creepy and scarily smiley.
posted by ambient2 at 9:44 PM on August 29, 2012


I got a super weird apology from my electricity company when I complained recently about a ridiculously high bill. It basically said:

"I see that you feel your bill is unjustified. I felt terrible that we have provided such a bad customer experience. I looked into it and found that the consumer protection laws won't let us charge you that much. How about [a quarter of the original amount - even lower than what I had offered to settle with them for]?"

Feel-felt-found: they are doing it wrong.
posted by lollusc at 12:10 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Genius is definitely a loaded term, but what is better? Technician doesn't really encapsulate the full spectrum of what these guys and gals do.

I hesitate to ask, but do they not merely solve technical issues and answer Mac/iOS/accessories queries?
posted by jaduncan at 1:51 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Did anyone else see the phrase "turns out" and instantly hear it in Merlin Mann's voice?
posted by anthom at 3:59 AM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh God, that's such a trigger.

When I was 20, I was the resident Mac expert at a call centre that had just landed an Apple contract for iPod (and eventually iPhone) support. It essentially shoved all of the other contracts out of the company, including doing support for net nanny software that Chuck Norris was a part-owner of (with Patricia Heaton from Everybody Loves Raymond; strange world), and he would occasionally call in. Not once did he punch anyone through the phone, but it was ultra-cool to chat with a guy who was an internet superstar.

Anyways, despite my age, I'd worked at the call centre for two years, was a supervisor and got invited to do the Apple Training down in California. We flew down, were indoctrinated in the Apple Customer Care experience, and then flew back up to become trainers of the latest round of droids to answer calls for Apple.

What I found most distressing, and ultimately what I ended up leaving over, was the replacement of real empathy with this fake empathy crap. Previously, our call centre was well known for its customer service skill; our agents were taught to problem-solve, to work with the customer and to be friendly and helpful.

Apple wants droids; a significant part of the evaluation mechanism is call time and ability to stick as close to a script as you can. The worst, though, was having to dock someone points (and perhaps eventually their job) for not saying "I can see how you feel that way, but" and then driving the customer to what the Knowledgebase article said you should say. (Incidentally, all those Apple knowledgebase articles? They have a whole hidden section for agents and support that frame the issue in "human" terms so the techs can follow along.) You could fix the person's problem in a timely manner, but that is not good enough. Fake empathy was a requirement for a satisfactory call.

This, having to harvest customer information even for a simple inquiry, and having to sell AppleCare plans that were $39 for a $49 Shuffle ultimately led me to be unable to enforce the standards for Apple. I walked out one day and on my walk home called my co-supervisor and told him I'd not be back again. They have defined efficiency in customer service by removing as much service as they can and replacing it with fake service, because it turns out fake empathy takes less call time than real empathy.

I think, in part, because customers see through the bullshit and give up when they realize there's a droid they're talking to.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 3:59 AM on August 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


You'd think there would be an opportunity for someone to provide a customer focused service, but it turns out nobody wants to be charged 20 quid an hour just to speak to someone who gives a shit.
posted by fullerine at 4:30 AM on August 30, 2012


I have never had a bad call with apple tech support. I know it's anecdotal, but. I think knowing you shit, & having a long history of buying machines must help. It usually goes like this.

"Hi, I have a computer with problem X."

"Have you tried rebooting?"

"Yes, and I've tried X and X and X."

"OK, that's most likely what it is. Send it in - here's your ticket number."
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:47 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I found the management philosophy that may be coming to the Apple stores more interesting than this standard type of controlled sales approach.
posted by juiceCake at 4:53 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have never had a bad call with apple tech support. I know it's anecdotal, but. I think knowing you shit, & having a long history of buying machines must help. It usually goes like this.

Yeah, when push comes to shove, Apple support is not designed to waste your time at all. If you come in having done some troubleshooting on your own and you catch a tech who can sense you are technically saavy, they're not going bust you to reboot again.

It's not profitable to put tech support agents out there for longer than they have to (which, incidentally, is why when call volumes dropped even for half an hour on busy days, we'd be instructed to send agents home; if the queue jumped and the wait time was an hour, that didn't really cost the company anything); Apple is designed, I think to its core, to micromanage to the nth degree and make billions a few cents at a time and to never leave a few on the table.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 4:57 AM on August 30, 2012


Yeah I think it's much more interesting that Apple's current head of retail used to run one of the worst retail electronics stores in the UK. He must have really aced that interview, or at least said a lot of stuff that the CEO wanted to hear about increasing margins.
posted by smackfu at 5:18 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


My one experience with Apple stores is thus: A year or two ago, my iPod "stopped responding", so I brought it to the Apple store in the mall. I too find the whole "Genius" thing to be pretentious, and their entire outfit felt like it was trying really hard to look like how movies depict stores from THE FUTURE! Further, I was annoyed that I had to make an appointment to have someone even look at the thing, like I'm taking my kid to the doctor or something.

On the other hand, they fixed my iPod, and they were nice, so whatever.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:30 AM on August 30, 2012


Apple makes great products (I bought an SE in 1988, so don't call me a hater), but the company itself and the people in it, at least the ones I've encountered, reminds me of Scientology.

I purchased my very first Apple product just a couple weeks ago - I wanted an iPad for the airplane and the state was having a sales tax holiday, so I rode my bike down to the Apple megastore on Boylston Street in Boston. They opened three hours early because of the sales tax holiday but it was still mobbed. I had only ever stepped into Apple stores in the mall before (where none of the employees ever seem to want to speak to me) so this experience was both new and frightening at the same time.

a) I couldn't believe how efficiently everything was run. I knew exactly what I was getting, and I was out of the store in about 20 minutes.
b) Lack of a centralized check-out counter was pretty cool. The hidden cash drawers were neat.
c) Every single employee looked like they were on uppers. I don't think any one of them blinked the entire time I was there.
d) The employees all gave me the same vibe that Disney "cast members" do - everyone smiling and way too outgoing. This is New England, try to keep some reserve, people.

So, a mixed bag, I guess. I think next time I'll order online. They did get an AppleCare subscription out of me, though, so I suppose whatever mind control ray they have in the store was working.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:36 AM on August 30, 2012


The tech people at the mall store I go to here in Austin are friendly and helpful and very human. On the other hand, my husband used to be an Apple tech many years ago, so when we go in, we're very clear about what the problem is and what the expectations are.

- "Hi, I have the following problem, I tried X, Y, and Z, I've ruled A, B, and C out. Could you run a test for D?"
- "Hi, I dropped my phone and it exhibited this behavior. I expect it's OK but if you could run a diagnostic for X to be sure, that would be great."

With my last laptop, I had to go in four or five times by the end of which several major components (including the hard drive) had been replaced. I think they may have gotten to know me well enough to decide I'm only very occasionally an idiot. So my customer service experience is generally very good, but I also never use the phone if I can possibly avoid it.

Buying for me is generally an in-and-out thing but I've pre-scouted on the web site.

(Most fun I ever had in an Apple store was in King of Prussia, when we brought in all our old unused iThings to be recycled before moving. They were all amazed to see a first-gen iPod still in working order.)
posted by immlass at 7:08 AM on August 30, 2012


They were all amazed to see a first-gen iPod still in working order.

RECYCLED? *cries*
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:17 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


My one experience with Apple stores is thus: A year or two ago, my iPod "stopped responding", so I brought it to the Apple store in the mall. I too find the whole "Genius" thing to be pretentious, and their entire outfit felt like it was trying really hard to look like how movies depict stores from THE FUTURE! Further, I was annoyed that I had to make an appointment to have someone even look at the thing, like I'm taking my kid to the doctor or something.

On the other hand, they fixed my iPod, and they were nice, so whatever.


So, they took care of you in a professional manner but they had a particular style you didn't care for? What is the complaint exactly?
posted by grubi at 7:34 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


a) I couldn't believe how efficiently everything was run. I knew exactly what I was getting, and I was out of the store in about 20 minutes.

My main issue with the Apple Store setup is that almost everything takes at least 20 minutes. Because there's no concept of sales people vs. register people, you can end up waiting longer than normal stores for a quick register-type task because all the workers are tied up doing longer sales-type tasks. They try to mitigate this by parking someone in the accessories area just to do check-outs but I almost always still have to wait.
posted by smackfu at 7:37 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Having a) read that gawker article, b) skimmed the manual, and c) worked in high-end sales / cust. service (though not in the tech industry), I really don't understand what the problem is.

I see the manual as a fairly detailed script for "here's how to be nice to the customer, who ultimately is the person paying all of our salaries, and how to defuse a potentially hostile situation using empathy and supportive language. We do this because a customer who leaves in a bad mood is less likely to buy from us later, and we, being in business, would actually like our customers to keep buying stuff from us. We can't implant actual empathy into your brains, but we can give you some idea how to mouth it if nothing else."

In other words, if you've ever walked away from an unpleasant customer service interaction (and you have) thinking to yourself, "those jackasses will never get another dollar from me!" you should welcome this sort of employee training. You're in the store because you want to buy something, or you've already bought something and you just want it to work as advertised. Why is this hard? It shouldn't be hard. Apparently someone at Apple agreed with you, and they made a manual in an attempt to provide pleasant customer service interactions at the scale that Apple retail stores operate at.

Is it a little bit creepy? Maybe. But customer service at the high-end is about getting inside the customer's head and figuring out -- sometimes before they do -- what they really want. Anticipating their needs. Making it so they don't have to ask. "That's a big heavy purchase you've got there, Mrs. Spendthrift. I've already got it on the dolly for you. Let me take it to your car. No, of course I don't mind." It's only creepy in the way that a very good butler or valet is creepy: they know what you want and have it ready just before you know you want it. If you're uncomfortable with that, know two things: 1) there's no judgment there; good customer service people are already moving on to anticipating the next thing you are going to want, or getting ready to anticipate the next person's wants, and 2) it really only goes as far as the specific wants that the store can provide.

The Gawker article in particular seemed to want it two ways in a weird fashion that felt axe-grindy to me. "It's a spa! That's weird! But they SELL you things! But they expect their people to be super nice, like a spa or something! But that niceness comes out of their motivation to make money!" Yeah, no shit, Sherlock.

What kills me, having done this kind of service, is that it is doesn't cost you anything to have your staff be nice to people, and it really does go a long way to creating loyalty. Every time your staff interacts with people and are not friendly and welcoming and inviting them to spend more time in your store, is money you are leaving on the table. It's literally free money.
posted by gauche at 7:40 AM on August 30, 2012


What kills me, having done this kind of service, is that it is doesn't cost you anything to have your staff be nice to people, and it really does go a long way to creating loyalty.

You think? I mean, it's not like you can just tell your people to be nice and it magically works. I think it does cost money to have a good work environment which makes people pre-disposed to be nice. If Apple started screwing over people for money and hours, do you really think they would be just as nice?
posted by smackfu at 7:43 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


the replacement of real empathy with this fake empathy crap

how to fake like you are nice and caring
posted by kliuless at 7:49 AM on August 30, 2012


No, I agree that that kind of customer service starts at the top. My boss used to say, "your staff will only ever treat the customer as good as you treat your staff. Management sets the tone of service by giving good or bad service to front-line workers."

I also think that screwing people over for money and hours is, while depressingly pervasive, a recipe for business failure in the long term. I thought the recent Apple Store labor cuts were super ill-advised & a move in the wrong direction from a profitability standpoint.
posted by gauche at 7:56 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, they took care of you in a professional manner but they had a particular style you didn't care for? What is the complaint exactly?
posted by grubi at 10:34 AM on August 30 [+] [!]


There isn't one, I was describing my experience. Your defensive posture on behalf of Apple stores is intriguing though.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:11 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


OH YEAH?

Well, sure, a little, I guess.
posted by grubi at 8:19 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love being able to make an appointment if I have to have something looked at. It's way better than wandering in hoping I've hit some point in the day when it's not too busy (and being wrong). The two times I've made an appointment at an Apple store I was in and out in fifteen minutes. Why are appointments bad?
posted by rtha at 8:21 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


My customer service experience with Apple has been generally positive, last time was a failed G2 iPod Touch. I spoke to the rep on the phone, he agreed with my diagnosis and I took it into the Apple service enter in Hong Kong where they swapped it out for a refurbished model. No pain and overall a pleasant experience.
posted by arcticseal at 8:29 AM on August 30, 2012


Why are appointments bad?

Appointments are fine if you can get one for the time you want to go in. Otherwise it would be better to have no appointments at all, since you could at least go in and wait a while then.
posted by smackfu at 8:32 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can still go in and wait, is the thing. I don't think they're going to refuse to talk to you about your broken iThing if you don't have an appointment. I could be wrong.
posted by rtha at 8:43 AM on August 30, 2012


I think the appointment system is kind of win-win.

From a customer perspective, it gives me a claim on a time and place for service, so if I know I only have an hour next thursday, I don't spend half of it waiting around to be helped. The reservations only go a couple weeks out so I feel like the difficulty of not getting your time is worth the convenience of having a reserved spot. I feel like I've definitely waited around without an appointment, too, but it definitely takes a while. My guess would be that there are only one or two surplus geniuses scheduled to take care of walk-ins.

This leads me to why it's a win from Apple's side: It collapses the waveform of potential customers walking through the door into actual discrete customers who have a specific plan to walk through the door at specific times. This has got to make staffing a lot easier since you have more data on what times are going to be busy, and you have more confidence in that data.
posted by gauche at 9:03 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Otherwise it would be better to have no appointments at all, since you could at least go in and wait a while then.

This makes no sense. I would rather know when a tech will be available and wait at home or somewhere else I'd rather be than schlep to the crowded Apple store, hope I can get a seat on a bench or something, and sit there with a book all day hoping someone can fit me in.

Yeah, please, tell me when you're available, then I'll make an appointment and come by. My time is too valuable to stand around hoping you might be able to see me within a few hours, if I feel like waiting around.
posted by Sara C. at 10:36 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess I'm thinking of the case where you just need this broken iPhone fixed ASAP, and you'd rather wait in the store than wait until tomorrow for an appointment. Not like tech support stuff, actual broken hardware.
posted by smackfu at 11:09 AM on August 30, 2012


Not trying to shill for the company, honestly, but I just went here to see about making an appointment for my iPhone at eight different Apple stores between New York and Boston and in every case I could make an appointment for this very evening or tomorrow morning. In 6 out of the 8 stores, I could also make an appointment this afternoon.
posted by gauche at 11:22 AM on August 30, 2012


I should say, this evening AND tomorrow morning. In every case there were spots open this evening, and spots open tomorrow morning.
posted by gauche at 11:22 AM on August 30, 2012


I went to Duane Reade the other day and the woman behind the counter looked at me and shouted "Fallen customer!" and I looked down and around behind me without seeing anyone in need of help. Then she shouted again, "Fallen customer!" looking kind of impatient, like couldn't I get on with it, hurry up, so I thought maybe she's like Andy Lau in a muscle suit from that wild Johnnie To flick, and can see people's karma, or maybe she was a special kind of churchgoer trained to spot us devils from a distance.

So I stepped up to the register and out of curiosity asked her what she had said, and she blushed hot enough to feel from across the counter, hung her head, and told me, "Someone from corporate came around and told us we couldn't say 'next' anything, like 'next, please,' or 'next customer,' so everybody says 'following customer' now just in case you're a secret shopper, because they try to catch you and I think they fire you if you say 'next.'"

I told her it reminded me of working at Discovery Channel Store when this Disney cruise coordinator-type named Steve came to visit from California, full of chirpy condescending directives like "You can't say 'may I help you find something?' It has to be different, find your own individual sales voice, ask them information about themselves and who they're buying things for, because customers prefer it when you take the time to get to know them as a human."

I told the cashier at Duane Reade that I had raised my hand after Steve's spiel and said, "I'm never a customer here, but when I'm a customer at other stores I hate when people pry like that and immediately take my business elsewhere. I know a lot of people just like me." My district manager had a fit and later accused me of trying to interfere with her promotion.

You should have seen the tension leave the cashier's shoulders when she laughed at that. A customer understood! Oh the hoops big retail masters make their peons jump through in order to justify another layer of vice presidency! The moral of this and every story is of course that everything we do has repercussions beyond the moment and our intent, so we should try to act at all times with kindness and compassion.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 11:25 AM on August 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Not like tech support stuff, actual broken hardware.

I had a hardware issue a month or six weeks ago and was able to make an appointment for the time of my choosing, at any of the Apple Stores in NYC. This case wasn't an emergency, and I happened to be able to go on a weekday afternoon, which probably helped things. But I haven't faced any problems with being able to schedule an appointment ASAP, in almost a decade of Apple ownership.

And, again, if my choices are "schlep to the Apple Store and hope they can see you sometime today" vs. "make an appointment for a time that is not quite as soon as I'd like", I'll still take the latter. If there were someone available Right The Fuck Now to help me, there would be an appointment available Right The Fuck Now. If I'm going to wait around, I'd rather do it at home or my office or whatever.
posted by Sara C. at 11:43 AM on August 30, 2012


It's amazing how much overlap this has with the first-year communications course at my medical school. The APPLE thing is clearly an adaptation of the super-popular SEGUE framework, which has helped me little in actual patient encounters (too leisurely) but which I have found to be incredibly valuable for internet dating.
posted by monocyte at 11:48 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Remember back in the day when you had to find your most tech savvy friend and hope they weren't going to fuck it up even worse?

That was so much better than this awful Genius Bar idea. I think we should just go back to that.
posted by Sara C. at 12:54 PM on August 30, 2012


Pier One does this too.
posted by brundlefly at 2:02 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm like 80% sure I sat through that same video when I worked at Pier 1 circa 1999 or so.
posted by Sara C. at 2:14 PM on August 30, 2012


Working in sales is already like the most depressing, soul-stomping job imaginable. If I also had to suffer through my asshole bosses referring to me as "Genius," I'd eat a fucking gun.

Bosses aren't the worst part! Just think how you'd be treated by your friends. As just one example, when my roommate was an Apple Genius I called him "genius" incessantly. The fact that we are still friends shows that, whether or not he is a genius, he is at least a saint.

Actually valuing employees should make it unnecessary to come up with some phony-ass patronizing (or cutely ironic?) "OMG YOU ARE SO SO SPECIAL" appellation for them.

I don't think it's about valuing the employees (or not). I think the idea is, in an inversion of the usual relationship, the store is patronizing the customer. It's some combination of "don't worry if this seems intimidating, you'd have to be a genius to figure it out" and "don't worry if this seems intimidating, we gave these guys a ridiculous job title to take them down a peg or two."

Ridiculous marketing aside, the Apple Store at its best is hard to beat. The last time I went was to replace a busted power cord. I walked into a crowded store on a Friday evening, found a regular non-Genius employee without having to wait, explained how I knew the cord was busted, he looked up the warranty, handed me a new cord and I walked out. Five minutes total at one of the busiest times of the week. It felt like I was getting away with something.

I guess (to synthesize this with the Samsung thread) I'm starting to think of Apple as kind of like a Bond villain. Sure, they're trying to take over the world, and it'll be bad for everyone if they succeed, and they're occasionally cruel to their henchmen. But damn they have style.
posted by jhc at 2:20 PM on August 30, 2012


Pretty sure the naming idea was to compete with Best Buy's Geek Squad.

The idea is to create a brand of in-house techs that makes it clear that these people are not that moron over in the printer area who doesn't know the difference between laser and inkjet or whether this can print on photo paper and what kind.

But, yeah, if I had a friend who was an Apple Genius I would mock the hell out of them.
posted by Sara C. at 2:52 PM on August 30, 2012


I'm pretty sure that Pier 1 video was a test to see whether or not you are suicidal, because after 30 seconds, I was ready to slit my wrists.
posted by crunchland at 3:00 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Man, my kingdom for a sockpuppet sometimes.

smackfu, have this official Apple Store App on your iDevice prior to entering an Apple Store. You can buy anything that doesn't require a serial number right off the walls. Or order on-line and select pickup in store; walk in and you'll be out in the time it takes for them to bring it out to you.
posted by now i'm piste at 8:55 PM on August 31, 2012


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