Let’s start with an acknowledgement and then a few basics. The acknowledgement is that Steve Jobs did in fact transform retailing, particularly the retailing of consumer electronics, with the creation of the physical Apple Stores. Not only are they incredibly pleasurable places to go kick the tires of the latest and greatest from the folks from Cupertino, but the entire buying experience is made so relatively frictionless.
And the sales people even know what they’re talking about. Imagine that!
However, for my money the true disruptive and transformative innovation of the Apple stores are the Genius Bars. They have taken customer service to new and highly differentiated levels. What has been confounding is how few other retailers have successfully replicated the rather quaint notion of having a trained technician take a look at your problem and most of the time be able to fix it while you wait. Amazing!
Apple Store in Stamford, CT. Image via Apple
Apple was also smart enough to understand that in a world dominated by people with attention deficit disorder (ADD), patience for most customers is in short supply. Hence, rather than go to a store and pick a number, they chose the more civilized approach to queuing theory and allowed us mere mortals to actual go online and make a reservation for the Genius Bar. Again, imagine that, I am provided a window for when to physically show up to get service. Truly revolutionary!
With that in mind, the news came today that Apple is once again re-defining/refining that Genius Bar experience. I assume, given whom we are talking about here, that Apple has gathered a statistically significant amount of data from its Genius Bars to reveal that many of the problems with iPhones in particular don’t need the time or expertise of one of their employees. How else can you explain the latest innovation?
When you go to Apple.com and find the physical store nearest you (in this case the one nearest TMC’s HQ which happens to be in Norwalk, CT), and click through to make a Genius Bar reservation for your iPhone, here’s what you get:
Image via Apple
You have read correctly. In fact, I’m not sure why they did not take the more direct approach of just saying “turn it off and back on.” I guess this is more soothing when you are in essence calling the customer “challenged.”
So I tried this out on making reservations for the rest of the product line, and at least for the moment the reboot suggestion for fixing problems only goes for iPhones. While this is a nice self-service way of doing repairs,, and undoubtedly from a workflow and business process automation perspective is likely to save Apple heaps of money, you have to marvel at the low-tech approach. GENIUS! Now if when I do go into the store and have a problem, if they could give me a freshly made Appletetini (vodka with some sort of apple flavor from apple juice, cider, liquor or apple brandy, or a non-alcoholic version for teetotalers and minors ) they could enhance my experience by letting me belly up to the bar. A fixed device and a slaked thirst, perfect together.