The Psychology of Perky: Apple Brings Its In-Store Geniuses Online

More

Apple is experimenting with ways to bring its stores' legendary customer service to e-commerce.

apple-genius-online.jpeg

Those perky Apple Geniuses, with their legendary customer service? The ones who Approach, Probe, Present, Listen, and End with such earnest aplomb as to make one forget that they're following rigid protocol? They now have digital counterparts. Early this morning, Apple launched a feature that allows online customers to "talk directly to a trained Specialist over the phone, start a live online chat and even watch your Specialist's screen during a personalised guided tour."

The digital specialist feature -- live, at the moment, only in the UK, Germany, Spain, and Brazil -- brings the hand-holding logic of Apple's in-store customer service to Apple customers who can't, or don't want to, travel to stores themselves. It brings scale to the Five Steps of Service that underscore any interaction taking place in any Apple Store, anywhere. Through phone calls, through chat, through tours. Through devices with which customers are already, ostensibly, at home.

That approach makes a lot of sense in the context of Apple's broader sales strategy. In a great scoop at Gizmodo yesterday, Sam Biddle got his hands on the Apple Store's previously mysterious training manual. (Official title: the Genius Training Student Workbook.) And while that manual "could easily serve as the Humanity 101 textbook for a robot university," Biddle wrote, "at Apple, it's an exhaustive manual to understanding customers and making them happy. Sales, it turns out, take a backseat to good vibes -- almost the entire volume is dedicated to empathizing, consoling, cheering up, and correcting various Genius Bar confrontations."

The online "Specialists" are an experiment in scaling that good-vibe-y logic, in extending the psychology of interpersonal perk. Can the strategic friendliness the Apple Store is known for transfer to the realm of digital commerce? Can Apple broaden the commercial reach of its brick-and-mortar stores even to people who aren't in physical proximity of them? Those with access to the new digital Geniuses will soon find out. Carmine Gallo, who is writing a book on the workings of the Apple Store, has observed that the venue is as much about cultivating brand loyalty as it is about actually selling products. It emphasizes the tactile sell, the sense of investment engendered in customers when gadgets are explained to them by guides who are as patient as they are charismatic. At the Apple Store, Gallo notes, "the ownership experience is more important than a sale." 

This is what Apple looks like when it tries to transfer that experience to the realm of e-commerce.

Via Engadget

Jump to comments
Presented by

Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In