I had a technical issue with an iphone and it needed a repair. Well that means a trip to the local apple store, for a quick hit at the genius bar.
A simple appointment setting on the website and I was set for an appointment the next night.
At the appointed time I popped down to the store, ready for the legendary Apple consumer experience. And boy was I surprised!
What was once the pinnacle of consumer perfection has become a stunted shadow of it’s former infallibility.
It’s not that the experience offered has changed, it’s simply that the volume of customers has grown and they have not in any obvious way changed the experience to keep up with their success in getting customers.
Let me tell you what I found:
I arrived at the store a good fifteen minutes before my scheduled appointment, the store was heaving with customers and staff, and I asked a number of staff where I needed to go for my appointment and eventually found the sole blueshirt who was empowered to log in genius customers. Ahead of me was a lady who had floundered and had spent about 20 minutes searching the store for the right person and was therefore late for her appointment, she was now over TEN minutes late for her appointment, and so it had been automatically cancelled and the time reassigned to another “guest”. The next available appointment for her was in two hours time. And she was advised that they were running over half an hour late anyway so she could expect to be waiting for about three hours. She chose to reschedule for another day.
I was next in the queue, but another lady jumped in ahead of me, as the queue was actually a circle of people two deep standing around the blue shirted apple genius.
She had a question which took a couple of minutes and then it was my turn. I gave the guy my name and he looked me up on the system. It turns out I was then seven minutes early for my appointment and he could not check me in until it was five minutes of less to my appointment.
I stared at this lost soul, and asked him if he was actually being serious or was he trying to act out a scene from the movie falling down? It turns out he was serious and I needed to come back in no more than two minutes and no less than seven minutes to log in for my appointment.
I pointed out that that was virtually impossible as there was a swathe of people all trying to check in and it was going to take him longer than that time to get back to me. He said he had no other option to offer me, so I suggest he get me his manager.
So I was then presented with the manager of geniuses, who explained that was the process and I had no choice but to follow it. So I asked to speak to his manager, he said that his manager would say the same thing, but at this point I was more interested in understanding just how ineffectual the process had become, and it did keep me standing in front of the check-in genius so I saw it as an amusing way to pass the time.
Over walks the manager of genius managers (I was feeling like we were entering a scene from south park at this point), and at this moment it was now five mins to my appointment time so the process allowed me to check in.
But I still had at least half an hour to wait as that was the backlog they were dealing with. So I was asked to wait at the genius waiting table. A table surrounded by two layers of waiting people. So while talking the the uber genius manager of mangers we walked over to the waiting table.
I asked the ultra genius what the hell were they thinking, this was Apple, and they were known for their excellent sales experience, what was going on. And I was informed that they were busy.
BUSY! I could think of a dozen simple ways to improve the process, from a proper waiting area, to automatically calling people to let them know the appointments were running late, to having pagers to give to waiting people to beverages for waiting guests, the list just goes on.
Right now the California kitchen offers a better experience than the apple store.
The issue is simple, they have not grown up to deal with their success.
Yes their products are great, but something has stalled in their culture. Come on Apple get back that sense of urgency, that focus on understanding your customer.
Yep Steve Jobs is dead, it’s sad, but that does not mean you can stop being Apple. Take a risk, think about the experience, get back to innovating in ways that surprise, excite and amaze.