Leaked Apple Manual Teaches the Art of Wheeling, Dealing and Empathizing
A leaked employee training manual used by Apple Store Geniuses has provided some unique insights into the company's sales strategies. The manual goes well beyond simple technical and policy matters, verging into strategies for capitalizing on customers' emotions in order to clinch the sale.
08/29/12 7:00 AM PT
A copy of Apple's proprietary training manual for its Genius Bar was recently leaked to Gizmodo, which promptly published excerpts from it.
The manual appears to be highly detailed, covering just about every tech and sales scenario that could be confronted by an Apple Genius at one of the company's retail stores.
Psych the Customer Out
The psychological component running through the manual has raised some eyebrows. It offers, according to Gizmodo, a list of words forbidden to be used as well as "lessons on how to identify and capitalize on human emotions." One of the training sessions is called "The Power of Empathy," a program that co-exists next to other seemingly more apt sessions, such as "Component Isolation" or "Using Diagnostic Services."
According to the language used in the manual, Apple geniuses "guide every interaction" and "strive to inspire" as they "enrich lives."
Apple's retail stores are among the most successful the world over, bringing in a relatively high amount of revenue per square foot. The manual, however, has clearly given some people -- especially those unacquainted with sales techniques -- the creeps. Indeed, based on some of the comments posted beneath the article, one would think we had in front of us "Animal Farm" or "1984."
The hoopla surrounding the so-called Apple Genius Bar leak is just sensational journalism, Scott Sobel, president of Media & Communications Strategies, told MacNewsWorld.
"Isn't Apple in the business to sell products?" he said. "Doesn't literally every kind of business have to be sales and psychologically savvy to some degree of sophistication in order to be successful? Should we be surprised that the company founded by the intuitive and measured marketing genius of an innovator like Steve Jobs actually has instruction for ways to bond with and serve customers?"
A Different Approach to Sales
Indeed, the company's obsessive (no psychological pun intended) attention to detail is the reason for its success, said Anthony Citrano, vice president of communications and marketing at EdgeCast Networks.
"At the core of Apple's philosophy is engendering an intimate, emotional connection with their brand. Products that aren't just functional, but beautiful -- they're as much about the left brain as the right," he told MacNewsWorld. Training its employees to be more psychologically astute is a critical part of maintaining that brand experience, Citrano concluded.
What It Says About Customer Service
"I think this very clearly illustrates Apple's commitment to factors that other firms ignore," David Cadden, a management professor in the School of Business at Quinnipiac University told MacNewsWorld. "Apple is noted for its commitment to design, but design is only the most obvious element of a commitment to providing customer value. Customer value is a multidimensional construct, and empathy is one vital dimension, particularly in retail." Apple is to be commended for bring its laser like focus to retail, he concluded.
At bottom, every company trains their employees on how to approach and conduct themselves with customers, and Apple is no different, said Charles Palmer, executive director of the Center for Advanced Entertainment and Learning Technologies at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.
In this case, Apple wants to sell not only the best product on earth but also confidence, he told MacNewsWorld. "Confidence that the products work as advertised, confidence that any problems will be handled efficiently and respect, and the confidence that purchasing this product will improve the user's status in the social and professional circles."
What Apple is doing, he concluded, "are basic tenants of good branding. Everybody in the organization understands the brand and tries to bring it to life at every touch point."