Customer experience at Apple

This evening I went to the apple store to purchase an iPhone. Unlike traditional stores where you pick an item from the shelf and get in the cashier line to make a payment, apple has established a different process centred on the ‘customer’. No wonder, Steve jobs – founder of Apple – once said ‘You‘ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.’

As I walked into the store, I was greeted by a sales representative who asked me what I was looking for after exchanging pleasantries. He inputed my name in an iPhone he had and asked me to hang out at one their product display tables. I realized, at the table, I wasn’t the only one waiting for a sales representative. I figured that by asking customers to wait by the product display tables, apple was showcasing its products and giving customers the opportunity to check out products. In fact, the iPhones and laptops on display could be used for many things – taking pictures, browsing the internet, testing out apps that were pre-installed in addition to checking out and comparing product prices.

As I was checking out the products on display, a sales representative called for my name and asked what product I was interested in buying. He immediately placed the order using an iPhone and told me that it will be delivered in four minutes. The sales representative stayed with me while we waited for the phone to be brought. Once the phone was delivered, he scanned it and processed the payment right there at the table. I was done.

Having been fascinated with the process, I looked up apples’s way of customer service and learnt that they had 5 step process adapted from Ritz-Carlton: Steps of Service. These steps are:

  • Approach customers with a personalized, warm welcome
  • Probe politely to understand the customer’s needs
  • Present a solution for the customer to take home today
  • Listen for and resolve issues or concerns
  • End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return

In addition, the use of technology, in particular mobile technology was highly visible in the store. The staff at the store used mobile phones to register customers after entering the store, place orders to have products delivered to the tables and process payments.