Bloomberg recently published an article that Apple Store employees were venting negatively about customer friendliness in their stores. The Apple Store is being focused on branding, instead of making customers happy. This consists of difficult check-in to the Genius Bar, recent experiences from customers and Apple employees, and bringing back the Apple Store from the past.
First, the Apple Retail hiatus has gone crazy since Angela Ahrendts departed Apple last month, replaced by a veteran Apple executive named Deirdre O’Brien. Ahrendts left Apple due to the lack of iPhone sales at the beginning of the year and she wants O’Brien to overhaul the ways a store should be “shopper-friendly”. She is now in control of the Apple Retail stores around the world and taking away the ideas that Ahrendts introduced in 2015. These ideas include the elimination of the traditional Genius Bar, which prevents lineups and crowded space.
In this case, the difficulty of checking into the Genius Bar is causing the problem to come back. More and more people are flooding for battery replacements and iPhone repairs. Bloomberg states that,
The overhaul of the Genius Bar has been especially controversial. Customers looking for technical advice or repairs must now check in with an employee, who types their request into an iPad. Then when a Genius is free, he or she must find the customer wherever they happen to be in the store. Ahrendts was determined to get rid of lineups, but now the stores are often crowded with people waiting for their iPhones to be fixed or batteries swapped out.
Apple was “trying to streamline things,” says one employee, “but in the process made things more difficult for some customers.”
While the Genius Bar allows you to book for an appointment to walk-in in the store, it’s now slightly more difficult to check in with a Specialist. Customers have to end up waiting minutes until the Genius is done assisting with a customer. This harms one of the capabilities an Apple Genius is supposed to be: Multitasking between multiple customers’ problems with their iPhones and Macs. On the other hand, this contributed to crowding in the Apple Store due to the lack of Geniuses to assist customers. Apple needs to let their Geniuses assist more than just one person, and simplify the check-in process with Genius Bar appointments like before.
Next, many Apple Store employees, Apple executives, and customers have complained about their recent experiences. Even some customers were disgruntled over the service as well. Bloomberg has evidence that a customer took a long time to purchase a MacBook for his daughter. The article says,
There was the time he visited the Easton Town Center location to buy a laptop for his 11-year-old daughter and spent almost 20 minutes getting an employee to accept his credit card. In January, Smith was buying a monitor and kept asking store workers to check him out, but they couldn’t because they were Apple “Geniuses” handling tech support and not sales.
“It took me forever to get someone to sell me the product,” says Smith, who runs 2 PM Inc., e-commerce research and consulting firm. “It’s become harder to buy something, even when the place isn’t busy. Buying a product there used to be a revered thing, now you don’t want to bother with the inconvenience.”
Smith’s sentiment is shared by legions of Apple customers who vent on social media, customer forums and in conversations with reporters. Only a few years ago, the raves easily outpaced the pans.
This implies that the wrong employees are assisting him with the purchase. The article also mentioned that lots of Geniuses took over a quarter of Specialists, making retail sales go downhill. Smith is right because these Geniuses lack these EasyPay iPhone devices that are made for Specialists to check out items. That’s why they’re unable to process his credit card to purchase the MacBook and needed to get a Specialist to help him out.
Not only a customer complained about the difficulty to purchase an Apple product at the store, but Apple Store employees and former Apple executives told Bloomberg that they had difficult experiences with their work as well. One employee said in an interview that the behavior and skills diminished rapidly for most of the employees. They said,
“Employees used to be very skilled,” one says. “When you came to Apple, you could walk in and talk to someone who happens to be a musician or videographer on the side, really knowledgeable. They hire really nice people now, but they are much less technical.”
This is significant because if an employee doesn’t have lots of technical knowledge, they won’t be able to interpret it when it comes to troubleshooting and buying Apple products. Apple hires people whenever they have lots of knowledge of their products or not. But, what’s the point if Apple hired a Specialist with only knowledge of Android phones and only a slight amount of technical expertise? They don’t have the skills to do the job well and then make the customer feel uncomfortable.
Last, but not least, O’Brien is going to put back the older counterparts of the Apple Store to the stores soon. According to the article, it states,
Stickers and poster boards appeared in stores pushing new devices and initiatives—anathema to Ahrendts’s less-is-more philosophy. The pricey, special-edition watches were long gone, and Apple had introduced lower-priced handsets like the iPhone XR.
Her successor will probably borrow from the past, says the former executive. The original Apple stores were broken up into sections where, for example, customers could learn how to create music, photo slideshows or home videos on a Mac. This person says O’Brien could potentially create areas to promote Apple Music, Apple News+, the upcoming TV+ video service and iCloud storage. Some employees speculate she’ll bring back the original Genius Bar.
Many people disagree with the rumor that the new retail leader is reintroducing the traditional Genius Bar to the newest Apple Stores. Especially the former Apple executive pointed out that the various factors that ruin Ahrendts’ minimalist style include poster boards, storefront displays, stickers on the windows promoting services and force people to upgrade to the iPhone XR with Apple Trade In. These will soon evolve into the promotion of Apple’s newest subscription services such as Apple News+ and Apple Arcade in a couple of months.
Thusly, we shouldn’t let the successor of Apple Retail, Deirdre O’Brien, ruin the ways a modernized Apple Store should be. It’s a bad thing because it returns to the crowded spaces and queues in the store, including dissatisfaction of customers and employees. Angela Ahrendts should’ve not left Apple for sales reasons and she leads the retail industry more than Deirdre O’Brien.