Co-Creator of the Apple Retail Customer Experience Training.
From the Wall Street Journal to CNET -- writers constantly acknowledge the superior customer experience which the Apple Retail Stores have achieved. Many writers cite the "confidential manuals" and training that Apple retail employees receive to provide a unparalleled customer experience. This "training" has led and contributed to Apple's position as the most successful retail brand in history.
2000 the beginning...
In 2000, I was honored and worked with the original team which created the Apple Retail Stores. I, with my business partner, Susan McGowan—designed, developed, and delivered all of Apple's Retail Training. We were on a mission to "revolutionize" retail. We selected and hired an incredible team to implement our training from both inside and outside of Apple to begin a genesis that still exists today.
- Credo —Vision, Values, Standards
- Interviewing, Recruiting Training
- Product Knowledge Training
- Mac Specialists, Mac Genius, and Manager Training
- Management and Employee Communication Skills Training
- Customer Experience Training
From facilitating Apple Retail's vision and values to developing its service standards, interviewing and recruiting, Mac Genius, Manager, Apple Specialist's training which led to creating an incredible buying experience. Later, the Creatives and the One-to-one training which was, and is, one of the most successful resources for Apple and its customers.
At Apple, I was responsible for all launches of hardware, software, and service products training which included everything from iPods, iTunes, Final Cut Studio to Xserve and many others for both Apple's online and in-store training. As Apple expanded globally so did the training--Japan, Canada, Great Britain, and many more -- needed to be translated and localized to ensure a complete global customer experience. In 2009/10 I returned to Apple to consult on many projects which included the global launches of iPhone 3GS and Apple's business solution-- Joint Venture.
Achieving the Customer Experience — 3 Foundations...
One of the best practices and keys for success is understanding the needs of a company's customers -- Apple's Retail Customer Experience training consists of three foundations--then these foundations are carefully integrated with sales, service, marketing, and training to ensure that the values and vision of a company's customer experience are achieved.
Ron Johnson states: "...the most important — and this is something that can translate to any retailer — is that the staff isn't focused on selling stuff, it's focused on building relationships and trying to make people's lives better.
How do you build relationships and an experience with your customers? How does that translate into a successful customer interaction?
What I Learned Building the Apple Store
11:16 AM Monday November 21, 2011
by Ron Johnson
"...People come to the Apple Store for the experience — and they're willing to pay a premium for that. There are lots of components to that experience, but maybe the most important — and this is something that can translate to any retailer — is that the staff isn't focused on selling stuff, it's focused on building relationships and trying to make people's lives better. That may sound hokey, but it's true. The staff is exceptionally well trained, and they're not on commission, so it makes no difference to them if they sell you an expensive new computer or help you make your old one run better so you're happy with it. Their job is to figure out what you need and help you get it, even if it's a product Apple doesn't carry. Compare that with other retailers where the emphasis is on cross-selling and upselling and, basically, encouraging customers to buy more, even if they don't want or need it. That doesn't enrich their lives, and it doesn't deepen the retailer's relationship with them. "
As mentioned in the following article: "A look at confidential training manuals" These confidential training manuals were developed to ensure and maintain Apple's retail customer experience.
Secrets From Apple's Genius Bar: Full Loyalty, No Negativity
TECHNOLOGY JUNE 15, 2011
BY YUKARI IWATANI KANE AND IAN SHERR
Steve Jobs turned Apple Inc. into the world's most valuable technology company with high-tech products like the iPad and iPhone. But one anchor of Apple's success is surprisingly low tech: its chain of brick-and-mortar retail stores.
A look at confidential training manuals, a recording of a store meeting and interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees reveal some of Apple's store secrets. They include: intensive control of how employees interact with customers, scripted training for on-site tech support and consideration of every store detail down to the pre-loaded photos and music on demo devices.
How do you delight customers? What are your "steps of service"? How do you ensure your company's customer experience?
Apple's Retail Success Is More Than Magic
LEADERSHIP | 6/17/2011 @ 9:50AM |42,701 views
Among Apple’s [AAPL] many triumphs in the last decade has been the astonishing success of its retail stores. In 2009, when retail sales declined around 2%, Apple’s retail sales rose roughly 7%. In 2010, Apple’s retail sales, excluding online, jumped 70% to $11.7 billion, or about 15% of its revenues of $76.3 billion, compared to the overall retail industry’s sales growth of 4.5%.
The Paradoxical Principles Behind Apple’s Success
In reality, Apple’s success is based on deeper principles that are neatly reflected in an interesting article by Yukari Iwatani Kane and Ian Sherr in the Wall Street Journal (Secrets From Apple’s Genius Bar). The article draws on confidential training manuals…
…The goal of “delighting the customer” leads to radically different managerial behaviors from traditional retail….
…According to several employees and training manuals, sales associates are taught an unusual sales philosophy: not to sell, but rather to help customers solve problems. “Your job is to understand all of your customers’ needs—some of which they may not even realize they have,” one training manual says. To that end, employees receive no sales commissions and have no sales quotas.
Operationalization of How to Delight Customers: Instead of starting with what Apple has to sell, the sales staff at Apple start from where the customer is and what the customers problems might be. Apple operationalizes its “steps of service” in the simple acronym APPLE:
Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome;
Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs;
Present a solution for the customer to take home today;
Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns;
End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return
Why pick apart, study, and analyze the elements that consultants, financial analysts, and professors are trying to find? The foundations of a great customer experience reside the key factors within your business. Find out how.
Ten years of the Apple Retail Store: What went right
Unique retail philosophy key to success
Posted on May 19, 2011 7:00 am by Gary Allen, Macworld.com
The amazing success of the Apple Retail Stores has been picked apart, studied, and analyzed by consultants, financial analysts, and professors, all trying to find elements they can apply to other industries and turn into successes. So far, it hasn’t been easy. Not that the elements of Apple’s retail success are that difficult to duplicate. Rather, it’s the personal commitment to excellence by Apple’s retail team and their genuine delight in seeing customers smile that is tough to copy…So Johnson and his assembled team created a superior experience for store visitors…Apple’s first stores opened in 2001, but now companies everywhere are scrambling to duplicate Apple’s success.
How do you ensure that your product or service succeeds?
The Success of Apple's Retail Gambit -- Sigma Swan May 5, 2011
"One of the things that enabled us to roll out this technology so fast was our Apple retail stores. They were built for moments like this, they were built to take new technology and roll it out and educate customers about it and be there when they have questions and issues. Without these stores, I don't think we would have been as successful." Steve Jobs
Why upselling and cross selling erodes the customer experience.
The secret sauce to Apple's retail success? This man made it
by Lance Whitney November 22, 2011 8:37 AM PST
Summary :After having worked with Steve Jobs to create Apple stores, Ron Johnson explains the lessons he learned and why the stores appeal to people in a Harvard Business Review guest post…
The staff at the Apple store is focused on more than just selling stuff, Johnson says. Instead, the employees are there to genuinely try to help customers, whether that means selling them a new product or fixing their old one. Apple store staffers are well-trained and don't work on commission, Johnson explained, so their goal is build a relationship by figuring out what you want and making sure you leave satisfied.
"Compare that with other retailers, where the emphasis is on cross-selling and upselling and, basically, encouraging customers to buy more, even if they don't want or need it." Johnson added. "That doesn't enrich their lives, and it doesn't deepen the retailer's relationship with them. It just makes their wallets lighter."…Apple's customer-centric, no-pressure approach has paid off quite handsomely. An August study from research firm RetailSails found that Apple's stores generate more revenue per square foot than any other U.S. retailer.
At the time of the study, Apple had seen global store sales of more than $14 billion over the trailing four quarters. With 327 stores an average size of almost 7,900 square feet, Apple was making $5,626 per square foot, according to RetailSales.