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OPLIN 4Cast #289: Lessons from Apple

Posted in 4cast

Most public libraries do great customer service. When asked about their local libraries, the vast majority of people praise them, much more than any other government service. It helps that libraries (generally) are not trying to trade their services for immediate payment, though, of course, people do pay for libraries eventually through their taxes. But how would people feel about public libraries if they charged premium prices for their services? That’s one of the interesting things about Apple – they do charge premium prices, yet people still flock to their stores. It’s worth looking at some of the things they do to keep their customers happy, and maybe check to make sure your library is doing these things, too.

  • 6 reasons Apple is so successful (Time/Tim Bajarin)  “Notice that when you go into an Apple store and are greeted by one of the sales staff, you’re not asked, ‘How can I help you?’ Instead they ask, ‘What would you like to do today?’ They go right to the heart of any technology user’s question, a question that’s always related to what they want to do with the technology the user is interested in. And once you explain your needs, they take care of it on the spot in most cases.”
  • Ex-VP using Apple experience to remake Penney (  “[Former Apple retail chief Ron] Johnson showed a diagram of a typical Apple store, identifying the ‘Red Zone’ of products at the front of the store, and the ‘Family Room’ of services at the rear. He said the Red Zone is ‘where the excitement is,’ while the Family Room is where ‘owners gather to learn more.’ He explained that, ‘The magic of the store that makes everyone want to come is all the stuff you get beyond the transaction, ’cause at Apple, the relationship doesn’t end when you buy. That’s where it begins.’”
  • Setting the stage (27gen/Bob Adams)  “According to Apple designer Jonathan Ive, ‘We are absolutely consumed by trying to develop a solution that is very simple because as physical beings we understand clarity.’ Though he was speaking about product design, this philosophy extends to the design of the Apple Store experience as well. In Apple’s world, anything that detracts from the user’s experience is eliminated.”
  • Apple Store’s secret sauce: 5 steps of service (Forbes/Carmine Gallo)  “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.”

Sales fact:
The average Apple Store has sales per square foot of $6,116 per year according to Retail Sails, while the average mall store sells only $350 per square foot.