Working as an Apple Genius Is Good Training For Future - Like Parenting Toddlers

This is my annual column on how to get the best service at Apple Genius Bars.

The young people who work as Geniuses at Apple stores across the nation get a lot of technical training before they ever hit the floor and many of them have a lot of Apple knowledge before they are even hired. They also get trained on customer care skills. Unfortunately, once they start working, they get more training from the customers. Some of it will hold them in good stead when they become parents of toddlers because they see a lot of adults exhibit toddler like behavior.

If you have ever visited an Apple Store you know that frequently they are quite full. That is certainly true of the two Apple stores located in Austin, Texas, where I live. It is not uncommon for there to be 40 or more customers in the store at one time. That was the case during my last visit, but service is so well organized that everyone gets served very quickly.

Apple Store Genius Bar Logo

A Story...

I arrived at the store ahead of that my scheduled genius bar appointment, therefore I had time to observe other customers. People should always be aware that when they are in public other people can hear and see what they say and do. This is what I observed during that visit.

There was a man in the store who was trying to get a free replacement for his iPhone. His story is burned into my brain because I heard it at least seven times. The warranty on his phone expired In late fall 2012. According to him, he had not had time until now, early January, to come in and try to deal with the problem with his phone. He had "been too busy".

He wanted his phone replaced. He also said he had purchased an extended warranty for the phone. The Genius who was trying to assist him had complete access to the Apple records and contrary to the statements by the customer, there was no extended warranty in place for this particular phone. During the 15 minutes or so that I was the unfortunate witness to this encounter, the customer, who was somewhere in his 40’s referred to the technician consistently as “dude” and “man” although the technician’s name was clearly visible on his Apple ID.

The Genius could not finish a sentence without the customer interrupting to repeat his tale of “only wanting a replacement phone”. At one point the customer’s wife showed up and the customer once again interrupted the Genius to explain to his wife, in great detail, what was going on. At this point this 40 something-year-old woman replied nuh-uh - there is too a warranty. I looked up to see if she was going to stomp her foot while she was at it. Now, the last time I heard the phrase nuh-un from anyone, it was from my five-year-old great-grandson denying he had taken a cookie he wasn’t supposed to have.

The conversations went downhill from there. The customers insisting that the Apple records were incorrect and the whole thing would be solved if Apple would just replace the phone, and the Genius trying to demonstrate how the system worked. I don't know how it ended because my Genius came to help me solve my problem. Not once during this event did the Genius exhibit exasperation, lose his temper, tell the customer to produce a copy of the extended warranty (like I was ready to respond to them after 20 seconds.) He was consistently professional and he consistently tried to adhere to Apple policy while trying to accommodate if not the wishes of these customers, to make sure they understood the situation.

 About annually I guess I feel the need to discuss the best way to get services at the Genius Bar both for your own satisfaction and for the sake of efficiency.

Being a Good Customer

I, of course, am the perfect Genius Bar customer. If you don't believe it just ask me. I would like to be able to say I learned what to do and not do from watching others, but of course that is not true. I learned how to be a passably good Genius Bar customer by making my own mistakes.

This is what you need to do to get good service from Genius Bar.

  1. Make an appointment and have a legitimate reason for being there. Dropping your phone in the toilet is not a good excuse for getting a replacement phone at no charge and telling the Genius Bar that somebody else dropped it in the swimming pool doesn’t work. It is still your phone and if you do the damage and don’t have special coverage you have to pay for your own actions and buy a new one.
  2. Explain the problem to the Genius in no more than three sentences. Your three sentences should be short enough to fit on a standard post-it note.
  3. Stop talking. The Genius has a lot of information at his or her fingertips and will ask you questions if necessary. They're going to look up your device and its records, they're going to do a diagnostic, and they will physically check it out. Don’t spend time telling them what you already tried. Be honest, you probably just want to impress them so they won’t think you are a doofus. They won’t care. Heck, their tests are so sophisticated they can even tell when you last backed up or restored your system to factory settings. Both of you will end up happy if you let them take the lead, and you will be on your way much faster.
  4. Don’t chatter to them while they are working. The truth is they probably don’t really care about your cute puppy, grandchild, or cool new tech purchase. If you feel compelled to talk, talk to the person sitting next to you. That way neither of you will bother your own Genius. They are all so friendly and helpful it is hard not to share, but remember your goal -- get it fixed and get out of there.

On a completely different note, I’m heading out for Macworld in about two weeks. I can hardly wait to get there. I hope many readers will be able to be there as well It's an experience unlike anything else you will ever have. Even if you only get to go once in your life it's worth it.

If you're going be there I would love to meet some of you. I love your ideas about the about things that you would like to read about and what kind of products you're interested in.