Apple Stores and Aha moments

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I were in Glasgow in the middle of a road trip around the UK. Amelia needed a new phone cover (exciting, right?) so we went into the Apple Store in Glasgow to see what they had.

Now I don’t intend this to be another instalment in the long line of ‘How amazing are Apple!?!’ pieces, but for the first time I actually sat back and observed how slick the whole experience was. Here’s how it went:

  1. Concierge guy links us up to an assistant in the accessories area.
  2. The assistant shows Amelia the options. She picks one from the display models.
  3. The assistant orders a case from the stock room via the ‘iPhone/ordering device thingy’ all the staff in Apple Stores have.
  4. While the new case comes from the stock room, the assistant sticks around, gives us a few dinner recommendations and processes our payment on the spot.
  5. The brand new case is delivered by a second assistant, and the original assistant puts it on Amelia’s phone.
  6. As we walk out the door the receipt is emailed to us, opening up CRM/e-mail sign-up opportunities for Apple.

It’s not new in Apple Stores and it’s something I’ve experienced before, but what struck me this time was the whole operation – quite literally – revolved around the customer.

It’s very different to the typical shopper experience where you wait for an assistant, walk across the store to the registers, wait in line to pay someone and then be sent on your way. To me that all seems to suit the retailer more than it does the customer.

Apple gets the customer experience so right. When you think that this is for a phone case and not a new Mac or iPad (still exorbitantly expensive for what it was, mind) it doesn’t really make much business sense from and ROI perspective: they’ve paid a concierge, an assistant, a store room guy and another assistant to make one sale.

But what it shows is that they work a little bit harder and demonstrably value their customers at the most important moment of truth for any brand – the point of purchase.

In an economy where bricks and mortar retail is on the wane it’s probably not sustainable to assign three staff to every customer, but the Apple Store experience is another trait within a fine-tuned customer-first philosophy that’s well worth emulating. Especially when you consider all the hard work you’ve done in driving customers in store and then will do in talking to them after they make a purchase via extensive CRM programs.

At the very least, by injecting a little romance into your in-store experience your customers will come away thinking that you really give a crap.

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