Original: How Apple ’s push to rule the smartphone industry has made Apple Store employees feel like robots
Rich Zoig has not worked in the Apple Store for over two years. However, he still remembers one suffering student with a flooded MacBook Pro. A roommate spilled beer on his computer. “Well, don't punish him for that,” Zoyg decided and made the student a significant discount on repairs. The initial cost of the work was supposed to fly in a pretty penny – $ 1,240, but about $ 300 was taken from the student. Zoig said that he decided to make it easier for the student, since, firstly, it was not his fault, and, secondly, he would still have to pay a lot for data recovery from disk. Zoig noted philosophically that such spending was too expensive for students.
Stories like these characterized brand retail Apple, which opened in 2001, perfectly. It was a retail chain whose staff had been trained to put in as much effort as possible to build positive customer relationships.
But over time, Zoig saw a significant change in the Apple Store policy. Around 2017, when Zoig decided to leave retail, Apple began to prioritize various metrics, such as payment via Apple Pay, number of packages sold Apple Care. The network's position has shifted from user experience to making money. Prioritizing sales and quantitative metrics has turned employees into robots.
Mr. Zoig is not the only one to notice the change. Business Insider spoke to current and former employees who also noted the shift in recent years. Some noted that it has become more difficult for employees to focus on customer problems, as their work is now measured by quantitative metrics. Working from building relationships with customers has turned into sales.
What's more, many of the current and former employees have expressed concerns about the changes to the Genius Bar (personal tech support Apple). They said that 'geniuses' are increasingly being rewarded for pushing updates. Also, employees of Apple Genius (a position the company previously positioned as a great start to IT careers) are no longer receiving the same technical training as they once did.
The employees that Business Insider spoke to have excellent retail experience Apple. 4 are still working, 8 are former employees. The term of work is from 1.5 years to more than 10 years. Geography – US South, Midwest and New England. There are 270 stores Apple Stores in the US, employing about 70,000 people. Your own retail network is, of course, an important factor for the successful promotion and sale of new services and gadgets.
This is not the first time that stories of problems inside the Apple Store have come to light. For example, this spring, a number of employees shared with Bloomberg that retail cannot find a healthy balance between selling products and creating an image Apple of the Store as a place where people can learn more about products Apple.
More than half of the people Business Insider spoke to said that change began to occur between 2016 and 2017. But they have become especially noticeable in the last year.
As one former employee put it, “We started celebrating things like who sold how much iPhone in a day.” The internal culture has become more competitive. Employees were assessed according to the criteria of who sold how much iPhone and packages Apple Care sold. This has led employees to spend more time with customers who are more likely to buy something than those who are just interested. One current employee compared his current job at the Apple Store to being in a used car dealership.
Overall quantitative metrics to measure can vary from store to store, but sales iPhone and Apple Care have come out on top across the board. And managers began to constantly inform employees of their statistics and often do it in the key of possible future promotions for good results.
Apple is one of the largest smartphone sellers in the world, but the company is under pressure from declining sales iPhone and attempts to increase revenue. The company is also under pressure from competitors who are eating away market share. Investors will keep a close eye on the sales results during the New Year's season. After all, the results for the first fiscal quarter showed a fall of 15% yoy.
Changes in the atmosphere are noticeable not only among salespeople, but also among employees Apple Genius. Several employees familiar with the situation note that 'geniuses' are now being rewarded for nudging a customer to buy and serving more customers. There has also been a change in the training of 'geniuses'. For example, since 2017, the company has stopped sending employees for training at headquarters Apple. Although one of the former employees notes that attending the training was 'the best thing he has ever done and the training allowed him to get into the spirit Apple and understand the importance of retail'.
Now training takes place virtually, and novice geniuses during the training do not have many opportunities to touch the company's products to practice problem solving. This led to a drop in both professionalism and morale. For example, according to an employee, one of the customers brought a broken computer and it turned out that there was no one in the store who worked with such a device.
“Geniuses should be the most advanced techie practitioners in the store, and now it turns out that many of them have never looked inside a computer,” says one current employee.
One employee who has worked in retail for more than 10 years notes that there has been a shift in customer service towards mass. And now there is no room left for solving the personal problems of clients. For example, they used to even help with things like creating a presentation or slideshow for an upcoming birthday or wedding anniversary.
Most of the changes came when Angela Arends, the former head of Burberry, was in charge of retail. After Angela left, Deirdre O'Brien, who had previously worked in the company for 30 years in the HR field, took over the retail. Now she is combining two jobs.
Apple is undergoing a transformation that will continue regardless of who leads retail. People have become less likely to update their smartphones – this is a trend. For this reason, Apple is increasingly beginning to rely on related sales – Apple Care, applications in the AppStore, AirPods, and also tries to squeeze the most out of customers visiting the Apple Store .
A change in retail policy may indicate that Apple has decided that it is better to sell more than to broadcast the ideal picture of the service to the world.
In 2016, in an interview with Business Insider, Arends said she wants to create incredible locations so that stores can mimic a city square in spirit. According to experts, she partially succeeded. O'Brien, on the other hand, is tasked with directly promoting sales. And O'Brien definitely has something to do as investors have high hopes for next year's sales when the company introduces iPhone 5G with a new camera system. Analysts are already counting on the 2020 flagship smartphone to help repair the sales dip. Well, retail stores Apple will undoubtedly play an important role.
Despite the fact that many of those interviewed said that they have noticed a shift in recent years and retail has become more mechanical, but still some of them have worked in Apple Store for more than 10 years, this is quite an eloquent fact. Especially against the background of the fact that, according to official statistics, the average time of work for one employer in the United States is 4.2 years. It should also be noted that Apple is still investing in the personal growth and personal achievement of its employees. It also works to give employees the feeling that they are selling something more than just a gadget. And that Apple Store is a place of work for the elite. Also, employees noted that the stores have an excellent team, so some of them did not quit.
In general, the employees perceive Deirdre O'Brien's appointment positively, as she has been working in Apple for several decades and must understand the spirit of the company perfectly. But, of course, the results of O'Brien's work will have to wait, since, for example, as one of the employees said, the results of Arends's work became noticeable only after a couple of years.
Tough times call for tough decisions. Thanks to Steve Jobs, the retail Apple Store has become a reserved kingdom, where fairies flew and angels fluttered, who found each other against the background of common love for Apple. It's no secret that even when hiring, the emphasis was not on knowledge of the technical component, but on love for the company and on the desire to preach this love. However, this approach was possible when Apple had a significant backlog of achievements and technological innovation. Yes, I know you will say that Apple never innovated. But they are not, they have always been. Let someone else be the first to introduce some thing, but it was Apple who always made it so that this thing had a human face and even the bat understood how to use it.
Now two changes have happened. First, people are comfortable with smartphones and computers. And we are ready to try new things. Secondly, competitors have pumped up and are stronger than ever. Smartphones on Android and computers on Windows not only are not inferior to products Apple, but often surpass them, while the cost is much lower. And more and more people come to stores with questions: 'So, what is Apple better?'. And here logical arguments do not work, so all marketing tricks and available sales tools are used.
It is important for Apple to sell at any cost. And this is the wrong approach. Tim Cook is under pressure from shareholders, and there is no one else who could show the middle finger to investors and do it his own way. And in a good way Apple, before it's too late, you should change the disc and instead of countless amazing and incredible openly admit the problems, saying that we make fantastic money, but the landscape has changed, and the company will experiment in the coming years and look for new opportunities, new ways to reach their customers. Such an uncomplicated move, of course, would lead to a temporary drop in the value of shares, but would immediately relieve the pressure. Now Apple is charged for success, there should always be records. And this leaves an imprint on thinking. With this approach, the fear of making a mistake increases many times over. And there can be no growth without mistakes.
In general, Apple even has a manual on how to do this. It is enough to read on the Internet an interview with Satya Nadella, who did a similar trick with Microsoft. Apple, of course, in this regard is in a worse position than Microsoft, since Nadella was sick with clouds from the very beginning, and Apple has to find its own way.