5 Steps of Apple’s Enticing Customer Experience
Even though products change and the store design is altered slightly to accommodate the new products, there’s one thing that never changes, and that’s the Apple Store’s secret sauce.
The Apple Store’s magic formula: Building relationships is the secret to selling more products.
Many brands try to imitate the Apple Store model, and most fall woefully short because they fail to recognise this simple fact—the soul of Apple is not its products. The essence of the Apple Store is its people —how they are hired, trained, and taught to engage the brand’s customers.
Every employee is trained to walk a customer through five steps that spell out the acronym A-P-P-L-E
Briefly, the steps are:
A: Approach customers with a personalised, warm welcome
P: Probe politely to understand the client’s needs
P: Present a solution for the customer to take home today
L: Listen for and resolve issues or concerns
E: End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return
The products may change, but the steps do not.
The steps of service work because customers are not “consumers.” They are individuals, and they want to buy from someone who makes them feel special, someone who takes the time to give them a unique and personalised experience.
“ The most important component to the Apple experience is that the staff isn't focused on selling stuff,” said one Apple Store senior leader. “It’s focused on building relationships and trying to make people’s lives better.” It’s by focusing on building relationships that have made the Apple Store the most profitable retailer per square foot on the planet.
Leaders of customer service brand champions (Virgin, Zappos, Starbucks, Apple Stores) speak very little about “selling” products because these leaders are students of human psychology. They understand that on an emotional level people don’t want to buy stuff. Customers want to build relationships with people they can trust and who either
- 1) offer solutions to their problems
- 2) make their lives more enjoyable
Language is important
The words Apple Store leaders use to train employees to talk about the Apple Watch avoids traditional sales lingo. For example, according to the Apple memo, when a customer makes an appointment to try the Apple Watch, an “expert” will take that customer on a personalised “journey.” Employees are coached on building relationships, not on moving the highest number of products. Remarkably, by doing so, they move many products.
Leaders, keep in mind that the language you use with your employees makes a significant difference in how they view their roles and, by extension, on the service they provide your customers. When I see a sign on a door that reads “Cashier Wanted,” it’s a red flag that the company doesn't understand customer service. In 2001 the Apple Store purposely avoided the title “cashier.” They did, however, hire “concierges” and “geniuses.” Words have power. Steps of service have power. The sooner you understand the difference between ‘selling products’ and ‘building relationships,’ the faster you’ll build a company that gets people talking and buying.