Take A Cue From Apple: Giving Your Customers The 5 Diamond Treatment

When Apple first decided to open its own brick-and-mortar stores, the world was wary. Some thought it would be a great success, others expected a catastrophic and expensive failure. On May 19th, 2001, the first two Apple stores opened in California and Virginia. From day one, hundreds of people lined up to visit the store, a phenomenon that continues with each new release to this day. In the first weekend, Apple’s first to stores serve 7,700 customers.

Today, Best Buy stores outnumber Apple stores 5 to 1, but Apple makes 5 times the sales per store. With over $35 million in annual sales from just 270 stores, Apple stores are doing better than Best Buy, AT&T, and Verizon, in a time when tech stores across the U.S. are struggling. What sets Apple stores apart? Many believe it their customer service model, based on the hospitality practices of Ritz-Carlton hotels.

The 5 Diamond Treatment

From the very beginning, Apple sent its store managers to Ritz-Carlton hospitality training, and model its stores and service on that of the high-class hotel chain. The Ritz-Carlton hospitality model emphasises greeting customers warmly, addressing them by name, and providing a personalized and positive experience to every guest. In fact, it’s rumored that Ritz-Carlton employees are free to spend up to $2,000 to ensure a guest has a positive experience.

At the Apple store, customers receive similar treatment. Employees are there to greet you upon entering the store, the Genius Bar is built to resemble a concierge station, and employees will address you by name. Much like at a hotel, customers at the Apple store make reservations, ensuring that an employee will be available to help them upon their arrival, and minimizing wait time.

The Apple store also strives to improve other aspects of the retail experience. The minimalist stores offer customers a hands-on experience with all of Apple’s devices. This perk, in addition to giving you an up-close look at their products, serves as a distraction for times that customers are asked to wait for service. When you do decide to make a purchase, Apple employees bring the checkout process to you, with a mobile card reader, instead of making customers wait in a line to make their purchase.

Why Customer Service Matters

Once known as a great source for hard-to-find parts and knowledgeable staff, Radio Shack tried to shift its business model to selling only finished products. In the process, the technology retailer lost its unique brand and by 2016, their customer experience rating had fallen to the lowest of all U.S. retailers. By 2017, Radioshack closed more than 1,000 stores.

Worldwide, customers rank their in-store experiences the lowest for all retail stores, behind digital and mobile experience. Nearly 60% of American will leave a brand they love after a few bad experiences. The worst offenders are employee attitude, unfriendly service, lack of trust, and unknowledgeable employees.

Customers are dissatisfied with companies they feel have lost the human touch. As technology grows more complex, people are even more motivated to talk to a real person, and dislike service through chatbots and automated processes.

Today, much of retail sales are moving online, and fewer people are making big purchases in stores. But American consumers still place a heavy value on in-store experiences, and 1 in 5 think a friendly, welcoming staff is more important that stores offering advanced technology. At the Apple store, they get both.

The success of Apple Stores has many other tech retailers mimicking their customer service styles. From minimalist design to free workshops, Microsoft and Samsung trying to offer customers a similar experience. Learn more in this infographic:

How Apple Stores Give Their Customers Five Diamond Treatment [Infographic]

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