By: David Chung
Many customers believe that Apple makes some of the greatest products in the IT world. In addition, every Apple store has extraordinary customer service staff.
The customer service staff of Apple retail stores are screened and trained extensively before they begin to work on the sales floor and interact with customers. The biggest determining factor for being hired by Apple is how much of an Apple evangelist a person is and how well he or she fits the team.
In addition to having a great service attitude, every staff member must follow the A.P.P.L.E. customer service approach.
Everything a customer hears during his or her time in an Apple store has been tediously thought out, and most of it is scripted. This A.P.P.L.E. customer service approach includes the following.
A – Approach customers with a personalized, warm welcome.
P – Probe politely to identify all of the customer’s needs.
P – Present a solution for the customer to take home that day.
L – Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns.
E – End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.
Below is an example of the A.P.P.L.E. method.
Step 1: Approach
Strolling by, a customer decides to look inside the Apple store at the mall or out on the street.
Staff: “Hey, what can I do for you?” (Approaches customers proactively in a friendly manner.)
Step 2: Probe
Customer: “Good, I’m just thinking of getting an iPad. I’m just not sure which one’s right for me.”
Staff: “I see. What do you plan on doing with that iPad?”
Step 3: Present
Customer: “It’s mostly for entertainment. Watching Netflix, reading, and Facebook.”
Staff: “Well, I think you’d really love our 16GB iPad. Do you have a preference for size or color?”
Step 4: Listen
Customer: “Well, I’d like to be able to put it into my purse and not feel weighed down. So I guess the iPad Mini would be best. Maybe white—but I don’t want to get it dirty. I’m just not sure.”
Staff: “Absolutely. I completely understand. I actually have a black iPad Mini that I carry around to read on the subway ride to work. It’s super lightweight . I picked the black one because I found it easier to read on.”
Step 5: End
Customer: “Okay, well, I guess I’ll take the 16GB black iPad Mini, then.”
Staff: “Great, I’ll just grab it from the back and we’ll get you checked out immediately.”
As a customer, how do you feel? Do you feel a difference?
Now, you don’t have to follow the A.P.P.L.E. method letter-by-letter. Many companies have developed their own acronyms to describe the service approach that best fits their brand and company.
The benefit of such an acronym-centered method is that it is easy to remember and it gives the staff a clear line of action to follow and fall back on to create a consistent and branded experience for a wide variety of customers.
As a business owner, what is the next step to improve your customer service?
Apple’s retail stores became successful not by following the traditional retail handbook and making incremental improvements but by reimagining what retail looked like. They rethought the “try before you buy” approach, solving customer problems and making technology as accessible as possible for every age segment and demographic with their Genius Bar.
You should evaluate the rules you’re following, how they’re working for you, and what you might do differently to replicate some of Apple’s success in your small business retail store.