I’ve worked as a Genius for three years at the Brisbane Apple Store and I can see where you’re coming from.
I’m writing this to share my experience.
First of all, I love working at Apple but sometimes it’s difficult. Our store is blessed with a great deal of space compared some other stores and even then, things can get tight sometimes.
Since I work at the Genius Bar, the majority of my customer interactions are scheduled appointments.
Often, the first thing a customer will say to me is something along the lines of,
“Wow, it’s busy in here.”
I usually agree in one form or another but I don’t notice it being busy, what some people would call busy is normal for me now.
I try and provide the best experience possible for everyone I interact with. I know how chaotic it can seem to someone who is taking their first steps within an Apple Store.
There are three reminders I keep replaying over in my head which help me to decipher the signal from the noise;
1. The most important time is right now.
2. The most important thing is the person in front of you.
3. The most import thing to do is to ensure the person in front of you has the best experience possible.
That’s it. I can’t remember where I read or heard these points but they’ve stuck with me ever since. I’ve made them my mantra.
By following these three points I hardly ever notice the store being busy. All I’m focusing on is one person. It took me a long time to realise that I can’t help everyone. I used to deal with multiple reservations at the same time, all on my own accord. That wasn’t sustainable. Now I’ve realised to provide the best possible experience I can, I just have to follow the three points above.
As for your experience dreading coming into the store, I can understand that. If you came up to me in store wanting to buy an iPad, I probably wouldn’t be able to directly help you. Not because I don’t want to but because I’ve got other customers waiting for my support.
I have to say no to dozens of customers like you every day. I hate saying no. I wish I could help everyone but I can’t. Of course, I would never say a direct no but I would try and point you in the right direction and introduce you to someone that can.
It’s a fine line trying to balance great quality service with the incredible quantity of customers that come through the doors. That’s why I just try and focus on one person at a time. It’s challenging. When I stray from my mantra and start to notice people walking around looking for assistance, I start to wonder if I’m contributing adequately by just focusing on one person at a time.
In relation to your point about over-sophistication, I sometimes imagine what it would be like if there was no scheduled appointments, no check-in system, no one at the front doors. Just people at the ready to help. I immediately start thinking chaos but then start pondering whether it would be so bad.
I originally read your post before work yesterday. It was the inspiration for some great interactions. I love hearing stories from customers, I love asking them questions about their lives. It doesn’t feel like work. Sometimes I feel as if I’m the one having the great customer experience. A beautiful human experience is a two-way street.
I realise I may have strayed from the point of your shopping experience, point experience in store is biased towards support. That being said, I would apply the same mantras above to any interaction.
How can we improve as a whole? I don’t know the answer but maybe with one interaction at a time.