Apple’s secret manual for customer experience


Much of Apple’s success has been attributed to its innovative, high quality products which no doubt have been a crucial ingredient to it becoming the world’s most valuable company this past week.

Something that is not talked about a lot is its fastidious attention to every detail of the customer’s experience. A long time Apple manager was explaining to me recently how attention was paid even to the feeling the customer receives when opening the iPhone box! Apple wants the customer to feel they are opening a product that is special, different and high quality and the suction on the box reflects that feeling in a visceral way.

That brings me to the in store experience, recently Apple’s secret employee manual was leaked. It laid out in immense detail how employees should interact with customers. From what I have read (and experienced in store) it is spot on.

It strikes the right balance between customer empathy and Apple cheerleading.

Some commentators believe this is manipulative and other cynics believe it is an unachievable standard to reach in the real world.

The reality is the Apple in store experience is one of the best on the planet and its customer satisfaction scores reflect this fact. Now Apple is clearly not perfect and they mess up like everyone does but they are very good at getting back on track quickly and moving forward.

Here is a great example from the manual under the subheading “Empathy Exercise 2 – Techniques” lays out a simple customer scenario:

“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.”

In this example employees are taught to deflect objections on Apple’s premium pricing by reinforcing the value the customer gets from the product. This approach links well with the section of the manual on things to avoid doing. For instance: “Do not apologise for the business [or] the technology.” Instead, empathize: “I’m sorry you’re feeling frustrated”

Great in store retail experiences don’t just happen they require you to hire the right people and provide them with the right training to execute the difficult dance between doing what’s right for the customer and what’s right for the business at all times.

What do you think, is Apple out of line or being unrealistic?

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