Apple Store Adopts Hospitality Best Practices

Along with its great products and services Apple stores also use hospitality industry models for its customer service training. Hiring managers at an Apple Store are trained to size up job applicants by asking “Could this person provide 5-star luxury hotel service to a customer?”

Extend a warm welcome.

The greeting is the first step of the Apple experience as well. Walk into an Apple Store and you’ll be immediately greeted by friendly people with big smiles holding iPads and ready to assist you.

warm, friendly employees who smile frequently and say hello or ask how your day is going. A warm greeting makes people feel recognized and acknowledged.

Anticipate unexpressed desires.

Apple instructs its sales staff to “listen for unresolved issues or concerns.” If a PC owner is thinking of making the switch to Mac, an Apple salesperson (specialist) might spend more time talking about the simplicity of data transfer between a PC and Mac.

Bid a fond farewell.

Apple Store employees are taught to make people feel special when they leave the store and anticipate upon their return.

Owning the Customer.

If you ask a hotel employee to point the way to a location (restroom, lobby, bar) they escort you to the entrance.

Employees at an Apple Store are also taught to own the experience. If you approach an apple employee they will often escort you to the appropriate product table or might introduce you to another salesperson more specialized in the product you’re interested in. But even if they hand you off, they will often introduce you to the other employee by name and even check back to see if you got your questions answered. The employee owns the relationship and must do everything in his or her power to make it right.

Be in the Customer Time Zone. Apple has learned what premier hoteliers have known for a long time: an employee can alter a customers’ perceived wait time by resetting the internal clock. For example during the rush period in a restaurant waiting for food for 10 minutes may seem like a half hour to a customer but to the waitress who is multitasking it may seem like 2 minutes. In either case perception is reality.

Apple employees are constantly resetting clocks to reduce the perceived wait time. The customer’s clock is reset simply by being greeted warmly and being told how long the wait time might be. While the customer is waiting Apple employees might walk by, smile, say hello and “The new iPhone is pretty cool, isn’t it?” Short interactions reset the clock yet again. By frequently acknowledging the customer, perceived wait times are shortened.  A customer who had been waiting fifteen minutes to see a salesperson might say they only waited “a few minutes.”