Retail best practice: Apple’s 5 steps of service
A nice look into the current retail best practice: Apple retail stores. Carmine Callo walks us though Apple’s 5 steps of service.
A.P.P.L.E.: Approach, Probe, Present, Listen, End
Approach customers with a personalized, warm welcome. Every customer should be greeted by an employee who is friendly, passionate and committed to customer service. A customer’s perception of their experience begins to be formed in the first ten seconds of an interaction. Make those seconds count.
Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs. This simply means to ask a series of closed and open-ended question so you can match the customer with the right product, not the most expensive product. In the Apple Store, a closed-ended question elicits a simple yes or no such as, “Will this be your first Mac?” An open-ended question is more general and gives the sales associate (specialist) more information to guide the conversation. For example, “What will you be using the iPad for?”
Present a solution for the customer to take home today. Apple likes to remind its store employees that they are not in the business of selling computers. They are in the business of “enriching lives.” A sale isn’t the only way to enrich the life of a customer and to build loyalty. For example, a customer might be frustrated to walk into an Apple Store expecting to see a technical specialist (a “Genius”) only to be told they need an appointment at the Genius Bar. A trained specialist would offer an alternative solution such as, “We have appointments available tomorrow. May I sign you up or show you how to reserve an appointment on our web site?”
Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns. Customers have what are called “unexpressed” wishes or concerns. Specialists are trained to pick up on these concerns during the ‘probing’ step, which is why it is important to ask good questions. For example, some long-time PC users might be reluctant to learn a new operating system but they don’t necessarily express that concern. A specialist who uncovers this information might spend more time describing One-to-One, a unique program for Mac customers who want to learn more about the computer in one hour face-to-face sessions with a “creative.” The program, which a customer can purchase for $99 upon buying a Mac, is good for one year and includes a transfer of data from a PC to Mac. It was intended to build a customer for life and often does just that. It’s also a good recruiting tool. Many people who work in an Apple Store were One-to-One customers.
End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return. How a person feels when they end a transaction significantly impacts how they perceive the brand and whether they are likely to recommend the brand to others. For example, a creative teaching a workshop might say, “I really like the presentation you’ve started with Apple Keynote. Please drop in again when you’re close to being finished and we’ll give you more tips on how to refine it.” Even after a purchase, it’s not uncommon for a specialist to give a customer a business card should they have more questions. Above all, give your customer a reason to return.
Article from Forbes.