Apple has long been known for possessing an almost magical allure. From its visionary founder to its beautiful, user-friendly machines to its epic, long-awaited product launches, technology experts and the average person alike love this company and covet the devices it makes. But this tech company’s mystique and popularity aren’t solely due to their sleek, innovative devices. A big part of the reason for Apple’s cult-like following can be attributed to their good customer service. Apple is frequently a frontrunner in the American Customer Satisfaction Index, and entire books have been written about their commitment to customer service. So what exactly are the Apple folks doing right and how can you translate that to your business? Read on for ways to infuse your customer service strategy with some of Apple’s knowledge.
Recruit the Right People and Train Them Correctly
To have the best customer service, you have to have the best people to implement it. Apple takes customer service training seriously, and may even hire people based on their perceived people skills. Remember this as you choose who will be a face of your company, then train them well to promote consistent behaviors and empower them to be able to provide customers with a resolution to their problems.
Solidify Employee Knowledge with Acronyms
Carmine Gallo, an author and well-known communications consultant for leading companies, researched the Apple stores and discovered their 5-step customer service process that has now become so popular that other brands are adopting the idea. Easy to remember, the first letter of each step stands for A-P-P-L-E. The steps, as summed up by Gallo, are as follows: A – Approach customers with a personalized, warm welcome P – Probe politely to understand the customer’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 Each step in the customer service process represents a pivotal part of Apple’s good customer service strategy for their stores. The steps, in addition to being simple and easy to commit to memory, emphasize kindness, relationship-building and attentiveness and almost ensure a happy customer who leaves with a sense of satisfaction. Applying them to your business can promote good customer service, and creating an acronym like this increases staff retention of customer service standards and promotes a continuity even across multiple stores.
Cultivate a Luxury Experience for Customers
One of the reasons that the Apple store offers such good customer service is that the entire atmosphere and experience of the store is modeled after luxury hotels like the Ritz-Carlton. According to Micah Solomon, author of High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service, Steve Jobs inquired of his employees where they had experienced the most memorable customer experience of their lives, and the resounding answer was at these luxury hotels. By thinking outside of the box, Jobs was able to create some of the key aspects of the Apple store that delight and amaze people day after day. The genius bar, anticipatory customer service and the practice of calling customers by name are just some of the great ideas sparked by an examination of what Ritz Carlton did right. Here are a few important takeaways from this section: – Your next great idea might come your employees. Always ask them for advice. – Think creatively when creating your customer service strategy. – Prioritize relationship-building in customer service. – Invest in the customer experience and work hard to make it pay off.
Encourage Community and Relationship Building in Stores
A very simple reason that people return to the Apple stores again and again is that it is a pleasurable, enjoyable experience. Part of the reason that the stores inspire this experience is because the strategy behind them is built around people, rather than the electronics. According to Ed Keller and Brad Fay, who co-wrote The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace, the physical layout of the Apple stores inspires communication between store guests, often regarding their common love of Apple products. Additionally, the store employees, according to Keller and Fay, have advanced interpersonal skills that they are hired for. This lesson plays into the idea of creating a customer experience. Remember that you should always prioritize people over your products.
Remember to Put the Customer First
Good customer service isn’t an accident; it’s the result of careful planning and consistently adopted strategies. Apple obviously has the formula down for customer satisfaction, as evidenced by their high customer approval, large following and booming sales. For more information on how to improve and grow your customer service strategy, browse through the articles and other resources available on Mighty Recruiter.