During a recent trip to the US, I experienced some problems with my travel companion, aka iPad 2, and decided to visit the local Apple Store to test their hands-on knowledge. It was an opportunity to see how the Apple corporation dealt with customers and whether it really is as hyped up as we hear in the news.
My perception of Apple is as follows. Please note, this does not reflect my views of their products and is most likely a stereotype image of an Apple employee. It all stems from the appearance of Mr. Jobs, who is the true visionary of Apple.
Steve Jobs has always, to me at least, appeared as a very relaxed CEO with a very relaxed and simple sense of attire. I have no objections to jeans and turtlekneck shirts, but sometimes it looks better to wear a suit – not necessarily a tie.
BUT, Apple is at the same time an organisation that strives on developing tools and applications that borders perfection. You pay higher prices for their equipment primarily because of design.
So the stereotype Apple employee, according to my perceptions, is a young enthusiastic jeans dressed individual, wearing designer T-shirts. Most of these would have an interested hairdo and would most likely be flashing a number of visible tattoos. And to top (bottom) it off, wearing cool runners. In a nutshell, look like college students lost on project catwalk.
Again, this was going to be my first visit to the actual Apple Store, as all my previous Apple adventures have been completed on the Apple Store web site, spending some hard earned cash on gadgets. I swear, these gadgets are essential to me doing business with my clients 🙂
Anyway, Apple has designed their stores around the World using the same style guides as they’ve used for designing their hardware; aesthetically pleasing, easy to use and user-friendly interface.
I flung open the glass doors and had only entered three steps into the shop, when I was approached (stopped) by a young jeans dressed Apple nerd, wearing the iPhone earpieces around his neck like a necklace and an iPhone in his hand. Thankfully ALL staff were wearing the same blue T-shirt, so some guidelines did exist for staff dress-code.
The shop nerd asked how he could assist, to which I answered that I needed assistance with my iPad 2. I briefly explained my predicament that the home button had stopped working, leaving the iPad useless and would serve better as a plate.
For readers not familiar with iPad, iPhone or iPod technologies, the home button is essential as this brings the user back to the homescreen, i.e. exiting applications. So, without a working home button, no iPad!
As if to ask for assistance from higher Apple authorities, the nerd checked his iPhone and asked me for some additional details. He informed me that I needed to make an appointment at the Genius Bar. WOW! That sounded awesome. I agreed.
3 minutes later, the little dude had hooked me up with one of the real nerds behind the counter. Does this make the Apple Welcome Nerd less important than the Bar Nerds? No is my conclusion. The Welcome Nerd was ensuring me that I would have a good Apple Store experience; a bit like the initial screen on the web store, where you select which products you are looking for.
The only catch here was that I had to wait for 36 minutes, for my Bar Nerd to be available to look at my issue. How do I “kill” time in an Apple Store!
Deep inside, I think this is a cunning initiative by Apple. They inform the customer that they have to wait 20-30 minutes, which is short enough for the customer to wait in the shop, and not too long for the customer to say “the hell with it, I’ll be back!”.
From a customer perspective, this is torture. It’s like walking around in a candyshop, tempted by all these nice shinny devices and gadgets. It’s almost impossible not to spend money. And this is where Apple has the competitive advantage. Customer walk around the shop and end up buying more gadgets, even if they don’t need to.
Most Apple product stations are manned with a so-called specialist. This means you have a Nerd standing next to e.g. the printer/scanner section, to answer queries – not for technical support. Technical support is the Bar Nerds.
The only letdown, for me at least, is that some of the “specialists” know less about the products than I did. I asked the printer Nerd a few questions about a HP printer, and he constantly looked at the product outline next to the device and didn’t know how to open the darn thing. hence I didn’t buy a printer.
The Bar Nerd finally called out my name and walked happily towards the Apple Oracle. He snapped my iPad 2 and ran a diagnostic on it, only to confirm the home button still didn’t work. BUT, he did state that I would receive a replacement unit free of charge, as it was still in warranty. He wrote down my details and told me that I would receive a call when the replacement unit was in.
Two days later I received the call and arrived at the store to collect my “new” toy. Within 2 minutes after arriving at the shop, I was leaving again, not being tempted into buying other gadgets; in and out job.
My overall Apple experience was brilliant. My product was repaired/replaced and I’m a happy customer.
In my humble opinion, I think we at HiberniaEvros has many of the same qualities and focus on our customers. There’s no need to go shop around the market to get assistance. Any of our employees will be able to either assist you or at least get you in touch with the right person. It’s a one-stop-shop, and our customers are the reason we are still doing business … and also the reason why we continue to extend our customer base.
We have access to a vast amount of technical resources within the organisation, but also through our strong partnerships with the likes of HP and Microsoft. This allows us (an our partners) to demonstrate our capabilities, and this will in turn allow you to satisfy your curiosity and select the product that meets your requirements.
If, for some reason, you don’t get the service you expect, tell us so we can address this and get better at what we do.