I planned on buying a new iMac on Black Friday. In order to make the process smoother, I ordered online at 6am and chose personal pickup. Approximately one hour after I placed my order I received an email saying that my order was ready. Everything was going well since I would be able to coordinate my Apple store visit with other Black Friday observations at the mall, however my experience with the Apple retail store was very disappointing.
My first interaction with the Apple store was a greeter assigned to the entrance. After saying that I was picking up an iMac that I ordered online, he told me to go see “the guy with the grey hat”, pointing in the general direction of the rear of the store. Relative to other Apple stores this particular location is small and I would venture a guess that it is one of the smallest out there, a carry-over from the early years of Apple retail. After a few minutes it became clear that the “guy with the grey hat” wouldn’t be available any time soon, so I was off to find someone else.
Even though there were plenty of red shirts visible in the store, everyone seemed focused on some task. After finding another worker that actually was not with another customer, I was told to go see another person for personal pickup, who unsurprisingly was with another customer. A few more minutes go by and I finally get my iMac. Overall I didn’t find the experience too magical and in fact, compared to other stores during Black Friday including Macy’s, I would classify Apple’s customer service as inferior.
1) I am not a fan of having to talk with a greeter at the Apple store entrance only to be shuffled to someone who clearly is not free to assist me and repeat why I am in the store. The whole process seems highly inefficient. Instead, getting my information and then relaying that to another employee who can come forward to help me seems more enjoyable. This process may actually exist in other Apple stores and I almost remember something like this occurring to me in the past, but it has been a few years.
2) Apple retail employees have different tasks even though you would never know it because everyone wears the same shirt color. Some workers do not deal with money, others only go around answering questions. This scenario becomes tricky when trying to buy products or pick up previous orders. Compare this to Macy’s where mostly anyone you find walking around can hop over to the nearby register and take care of your order.
3) The floor layout is just unnecessarily chaotic as people are standing around for various tasks such as purchasing product or getting tech support. Generally the front of the store is geared towards selling product with the back dedicated for the Genius Bar, but the middle zone is a very awkward area with people randomly standing around.
In previous years, I recall Apple have a more traditional check-out process for gift cards and other smaller items such as iPods, but such a layout did not exist this time around. Maybe I’m being a bit unfair and I just timed it wrong?
Apple retail just isn’t working anymore and you clearly have numerous objectives to accomplish in 2014.
Good Luck, Sammy the Walrus IV
P.S. I’m enjoying the iMac
I’ve actually found going to the Apple store lately is not as enjoyable as it used to be. The front door greeter is a particularly dumb idea, because that person adds nothing to the visit unless, I suppose, you’re just totally unfamiliar with Apple, electronics, or shopping in any capacity. I recently went in and was greeted by a guy at the door and I asked him if it was possible to arrange to buy a new iPhone 5S for someone as a gift and have them come in later and pick up the new phone and swap their old one at the same time. Basically, I was willing to pay for the phone but not take it with me, and have the gift recipient come claim it later. The greeter’s answer? “No.” That was it. “No.” Not, “You can buy a gift card in the amount of a phone,” or, “Y’know, we can’t do that because the person might want a different phone, more memory, or they might want the Apple Care protection plan, and they might want to trade in their old phone, and because of the requirements of the carriers, all of those things have to be done in one transaction.” No other suggestions — ‘Why not buy a nice iPod Touch and if they don’t like it they can swap it for the phone?’ Nothing other than the word, “No.” And a head shake. So I left and bought other gifts at other stores.
I also agree on the employees in general. They used to want to help everyone, but now they seem to have picked up the bad habit of not making eye contact, or looking like they’re too busy but then walking over to a group of other employees and striking up a conversation about ‘Game of Thrones’ or something.
I’m sure their sales remain strong, but it’s a bad forward indicator when you have a lot of people on the sales floor who aren’t helping anyone, and in some cases might be actually alienating good customers who want to spend money. This kind of thing has a way of infecting a business if it’s not tackled early-on.