Have you been to an Apple Store lately? I must confess I am not a tech junkie. I don’t desire to have the latest greatest tech gizmos. However, I did need a new screen protector for my iPhone, which recently put me square in the middle of a bustling, clean, spacious, linear and futuristic-looking store we all know as the Apple Store.
When I shop, I don’t browse. I know exactly what I need, go straight to it and get out. But I must say I felt a little self-conscious in the Apple Store, a bumbling middle-aged fool with poor eyesight among much cooler, hipper and sharper-eyed Millennials and Gen Zers. I could not immediately find the screen protectors, amidst the sea of more expensive iPads, iPhones, Apple watches and MacBook Airs.
Finally, near the back corner of the store, I thought I found what I was looking for. But as I took my glasses off to put the box as close to my eyes as possible so I could read it, I heard a voice behind me.
“May I help you, sir?”
Aha, I thought, their theft deterrent strategy! Don’t let blind middle-aged men fumble around picking up products that they can easily put into their pockets and walk out with! But no, it was just an insanely friendly woman with a headset on and a battery pack attached to her waist. I’m guessing she was the store manager, and it was her duty to find customers who looked lost and funnel them to other staff who could help them.
I was quite relieved when she rescued me, found what I was looking for and set me up with another staffer who could install the screen protector. I told the young rogue with the beard that I was surprised he had to “install” it.
“I figured I could just slap it on myself,” I said.
Apparently it’s quite difficult, what with trying to make sure it lines up with the speaker hole and power button.
“We told the vendor that if they didn’t make it easier for our customers to put these on, we would stop carrying their product,” he said. “So they invented this machine that puts it on for you.”
“Wow,” I said, “I guess when Apple speaks, you listen.”
If that woman hadn’t helped me, I might still be there, aimlessly wandering around. That made me think: do you have a standard operating procedure for handling a customer who comes in? Do they sit unattended and ignored while you wait on other customers? Or are they greeted merrily, informed about the fresh coffee available, given a preliminary form to fill out and told that someone will be with them in less than five minutes? Remember, that first point of contact can make or break you.