Apple Retail Store Experiences

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    Posted: 22 November 2011 02:10 AM #16

    It’s difficult to take one disgruntled former employee too seriously when retail is the raging success that it is.

    It’s also difficult to extrapolate the erosion of Apple’s soul when there isn’t even a RIM-early-warning-type sign of Apple doing all that much systemically wrong.

    Now have I had some not-so-great Apple retail experiences?  Sure!  Welcome to retail.  And Apple will have an increasingly difficult time keeping “first store” levels of quality with so many stores and so many employees.  But guess what - Apple doesn’t really go for “bleed in six colors” employees for Apple retail.  I’m not sure it’s even a plus now, if it ever was before.

    The Apple Stores I visit have competent service.  I buy a fair amount of stuff from them and I ask questions frequently as an enlightened mystery shopper-shareholder.  I’ve felt more knowledgeable than most of the grunt-work sales staff, but that’s not the point.  Neither is the question of, is Apple Retail as “pure” and “single-mindedly dedicated” as it was in 2001 (spoiler warning:  Hell no!)  Here’s what’s counts:  DO THEY GET THE JOB DONE.  ANSWER:  YES THEY DO.

    More importantly:  Have all my major hardware repair issues been satisfactorily resolved?  Yes, and then some! 

    So am I wrong and the former employee right?  We’re both Apple snobs.  I’ve been an Apple user since the IIe.  Let’s try a more “objective” source - the riotous, always-out-to-get-Apple media.  Funny, they’re generally pretty quiet when it comes to Apple retail.

    Never try to hold retail to a standard of perfection.  Retail is inherently flawed.  But as far as Apple is concerned, it still has the best tech-retail experience in the world, bar none.

    [ Edited: 22 November 2011 02:13 AM by Mav ]

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  • Posted: 22 November 2011 03:02 AM #17

    We’re not much different you and I.  You were willing to put up with a little more of the arcane with your IIe while I waited for the invention of my 128k Mac but not much different.  I worked in retail back when service stations weren’t an oxymoron and later selling traditional men’s clothing in college.  (side note: one of my former cohorts from the clothing store has been one of Ralph Lauren’s main guys forever…,not bad.) 

    Retail is about as tough a business as I can think of from a staffing view point and what your saying will get little disagreement from me.  Still…,my bil’s appointment was an hour late.  They took his problem info three separate times for the genius having lost it twice.  He said he was willing to wait but wanted to know that they would give him the time required when it was his turn.  Was assured that would be the case.  When he finally had the genius, the guy messed up a mail account trying to consolidate two and had to find a way to rebuild it but left them both there as he had to leave.  Acted like he went to find someone to continue but never came back.  When my bil asked a concierge if someone else was going to help him was told that no one else was available with no further information or suggestions.  He said they just turned around and walked off leaving him sitting there.

    This is a pretty massive fail and I don’t derive more from it than it is.  I (and my wife and kids) have had nothing but stellar experiences there.  I can’t stop thinking about another story that said they are now taking ordinary folks and TRAINING them to be genius’s.  I personally think there is no practical way to implement this as a strategy and have it be successful.  I think they’re going to need every Apple nerd they can find and probably quite a few window ones as well.  I didn’t read the posters comments as coming from a former employee full of sour grapes but one who had merely noted how much had changed.  I’ve seen it (and felt it) myself.  I merely posted it as an observation.  It may (sadly) have no answers.

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    Posted: 22 November 2011 03:26 AM #18

    We can hope for Apple to focus on Apple enthusiasts as new hires in retail all we want, but I don’t think that’s the trend.

    Your brother-in-law’s experience was beyond unacceptable and to the extent unfortunate stuff like that happens (and so often, in retail), I hope he can at least relay his experiences to a higher-up somewhere.  I don’t happen to think Apple Retail is an awesome customer experience by any means, merely pretty good.  One area where Apple could show retail leadership is a store or country-wide point of accountability where customer complaints will be received and investigated seriously.  I can understand why Apple or most any other company with a retail operation wouldn’t be too up-front about that though - beware the Customers From Hell?.

    Retail expansion brings challenges.  Given Mac market share, it’s likely that your typical hiring manager is NOT a Machead.  Makes it difficult to screen for, much less identify with, the more enthusiast Mac users among us.

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    Posted: 02 April 2012 03:16 PM #19

    Was in FL for a bit and wanted to share the latest retail store experience.  I always like to go with someone to the Apple store for both recon and to have them rate the buying experience; especially first timers.

    I went with my Dad’s significant other who is from France and quite wealthy.  She was picking up an iPad for a friend to bring back to France.  The store in question was in the Waterside Mall at Pelican Bay (Naples, FL).  Very upscale (Tiffany’s, Cartier, DeBeers, etc.).  Saw many Bentleys, RRs, and such at the complimentary valet parking area.

    Anyway, we went in and requested an associate via the app on all the iPads and such.  She was concerned we would not be waited on after 5 minutes or so.  The store was packed BTW.  Very diverse mix of age groups.

    After another minute, a pleasant young girls of about 20 waited on us.  She asked what she wanted and requested it via the handheld.  A 20-something male brought it out about 30 seconds later much to her disbelief.  She had the associate set up the French keyboard and was explained how to make the switch when needed.  Paid right there and got both an email and paper receipt.  We were out the door five minutes later.

    I asked her to rate the buying experience.  She rated it an A+.  She is a *very* discriminating buyer and expects top service.  Once again, Apple delivered.

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    Posted: 02 April 2012 08:38 PM #20

    Was at the Fashion Show mall on the Las Vegas strip, across from the Palazzo and the Wynn, on March 30th. This is a ?normal? layout but has a ?mini? store feel. About 15 employees in blue shirts. The customer/ salesperson ratio is 2 or 3:1. A couple ?one-on-one? sessions. Most activity clustered around the iPad area. MacBook pros are completely ignored. Two geniuses helping a couple people, no line for service. Only saw one sale but it was a doozy: a MBP, two iPads, two Nanos, and a stack of other small goodies like mouse/cable/case stuff.

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    Posted: 04 April 2012 02:03 PM #21

    Dropped into Vancouver’s too-small Pacific Centre store at about 3 p.m.?on a weekday afternoon. Edged my way through the SRO crowd in the direction of the Genius Bar but was intercepted before I got there. Young male employee asked if I needed help.

    I told him I wanted to see how long the wait was for a walk-in. He said they were really backed up and perhaps he could solve my problem.

    Explained I’d bought a Magic Track Pad online but none of my three Macs could “marry” it and the one I wanted to use it with was working flawlessly with an Apple wireless keyboard and wireless mouse.

    He asked if I had it with me and I pulled it out if my courier bag. He went to the shelf and picked up a new one in the box and traded it to me.

    He asked if there was anything else he could do for me. I said no, thanked him and walked out if the store with a new working trackpad.

    Whole visit took not much more than five minutes.

    Unlike every other retail store on the planet there was no 20 minute wait at a “customer service desk” while a trainee clerk tried to figure out how to do the paperwork, because there was none.

    Customer satisfaction: 10/10.
    Shareholder satisfaction: 10/10.

         
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    Posted: 15 April 2012 12:55 AM #22

    The sponge is at the VG store typing on a nice 13” Air.

    The store is about half full with an hour left before closing.

    The iPad tables are the fullest.  A bunch of pre teens are playing on the MacBook Pro table using the net.

    A bunch of little kids are playing on the iPod touch tables.  A number of teen age girls on various Macs.

    The store is well lit and the Cure is playing in the background.  It just feels good to be here.

    Employees are looking at me wondering what I am doing looking around so much and then typing. :-o

    I was hoping to do some counting of iPads sold, but so far everyone comes in looks and then walks out.

         
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    Posted: 16 June 2012 08:31 AM #23

    Thread bump in the wake of this past week of announcements at WWDC 2012. I’ve seen other comments about the remake of Apple Retail displays, 6 new MBP (ret) together on a table, etc. I know many of you will visit a store this weekend: your ‘board needs intel. Please report your findings from the field!

    [ Edited: 16 June 2012 09:27 AM by rezonate ]

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    Posted: 16 June 2012 08:57 AM #24

    I visited the Apple in Seattle on Friday. This store draws a lot of university of Washington students and faculty.

    The store was packed. As expected the MacBook Pro table was the center of attention, at least three people deep at all six stations.  A photo file was being demoed on one machine to highlight the retina display.  Plenty of oohs and aahs over the thinness and lightness.  Some drool evident among the starving students…..as the price tag might have muted enthusiasm just a bit.  Everyone in a great mood. AppLe store staff wired up. A bit of a party feel. 

    Across the parking lot is a Microsoft store. There were six or seven people in it….three of them kids playing on the Kinect demo system.

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    Posted: 10 July 2012 12:16 PM #25

    At the Westfarms ARS on Sunday to drop off a malfunctioning MacMiniServer (drive failure fixed but they would not swap the monitor adapter even though it is technically covered by AppleCare - oh well.)  The mall store was quite quiet 4-5pm and they closed at 6. The tech was happy to have a relatively quiet day saying “knock on wood” for the last hour. Sunday combined with a hot, beachgoing day probably contributed. Probably a 2:1 customer to Apple ratio.

    Went back to pick up on Monday afternoon. Busier but still not “mobbed”. The pace picked up after 5pm and people started getting out of work. 3:1 or 4:1 ratio.  Lots of one-on-one training.

    iPad tables were almost vacant. The new MBP retina table was completely empty. All the activity centered around MacBook Airs, accessories, repairs, training and desktop machines.  The Apple promotions are concentrated on the back-to-school season.

    Also new to me was a small flyer printed in the style of a pinstripe suit pattern. It says “JointVenture” and is directed at small businesses. $499 covers up to 5 systems. A system is defined as one Mac with up to two displays, and iPhone/iPad/iPod. If your small business has additional systems you can add them for $99 each. Membership includes setup, training and priority support.  Apologies if this program has already been reported on another thread, it was new to me.

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    Posted: 11 July 2012 05:39 AM #26

    Recently visited the NYC flagship store on 59th Street… Attended a conference all day but needed a repair on my McBook ASAP… got an online 11:40PM appointment time. 

    The store was PACKED (during a weekday night, no less) - they had to have genius staff meet at several overflow tables since there was no room at the 25 seat genius bar across the back of the store… Estimated that they were seeing over 100 people per hour.

    Check-in was a bit hectic, with four staff checking customers in in two aisles… it took a few minutes to confirm the appointment, and then took about 15 minutes until the genius arrived to speak with me… but with the mayhem I was experiencing all around me, somehow it didn’t seem too long a wait.

    Saw customers being addressed in at least four different languages by attentive staff (English, Spanish, Chinese and French!) - and the customers really seemed to appreciate this added level of service.

    People were buying a lot of MacBooks and tons of iPads at this store… even saw a few iMacs leave the store at that late hour… less iPhone sales than I’v seen at other stores on the West Coast, but hard to tell the specific sales activity amid the crowds.

    They discovered a failed battery on my computer (covered by Apple Care) and arranged to have it repaired within 90 minutes… the 24-hour nature of this store really rocks!

    ...if only they could open an Apple Store on Kauai…

         
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    Posted: 12 July 2012 09:15 PM #27

    Just took a quick lap through the San Francisco Apple store. Wasn’t buying anything today. Wanted to check out the new MBA’s and get a general feel for the place on a Thursday afternoon (3pm). Store was packed ( both floors ) every station was taken at every section. The demonstration area was only half full (the were putting together a slide show or something ). There was an incredible amount of staff. Younger kids in blue applet-shirts VERY wiling to help, show, answer questions. Very impressive operation. The kids section was definitely the cutest (and full). What an atmosphere for a tech store!

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