12 Jun Taking a bite of the Apple: OK, I finally get it . . .
- To understand profoundly through intuition or empathy.
- To have a thorough understanding of a subject.
- To take something in so thoroughly that it becomes a part of you.
I finally took the plunge. After dropping my laptop at the airport and having my screen die, I finally determined to get a Mac. I have actually been holding out to purchase a full on Linux machine but I never been able to convince myself that I could take the plunge at my current technical level. As a power Office productive software user, I have limited tolerance for what I anticipated would be the inefficiencies required by constant tinkerings or trying to get by with good enough product.
So with some reluctance, I headed into the Apple store. I have been coming to the Apple store for years since purchasing my iPod and have always enjoyed the ambience. I just felt cool going in there – the clean presentation, the simplicity, the readily available help, and just the whole vibe has always been different. I even loved the packaging – everything from the way things fit together, to the look and feel, to the layout of the brochures inside. Lately, I have noticed an increasing surge of people in the stores, more employees available, and an increasingly conspicuous Genius Bar / One on One consulting area.
So I walked in, was greeted at the door, directed to a knowledge staff member, and completed the purchase of a new iMac and macbook in about 10 minutes. I was already going to buy, but was able to make the decision with the assistance of my “personal shopper” in that short amount of time. He helped me navigate a few cool add ons (wireless keyboard just looks so cool!) and the office productivity software that I would need to make the conversion. The coolest thing of all, however, was the ability to purchase for $100 access to once per week training.
Getting the most out of my hardware has always been my downfall with technology. If I can’t figure it out with brief references to the manual, I typically don’t use the feature. I have big screen TV’s, fancy stereo equipment, cameras, dvd recorders, and other devices that I use about 10% of the features on. I just have never had the time, means, nor help to really learn how to maximize these tools. So, the ability to come in 52 times within the next year to get up to speed on specific aspects of the technology that are relevant to me is indispensible. Perhaps now I will actually take the time to learn how to do photoshop (or the Mac equivalent), actually organize all my digital pictures, create some videos, and teach my kids to do the same. I am actually really excited about this product/service.
The store was so busy that I figured I would have to wait in a lengthy line. Oops, there was no line. My personal shopper pulled out a handheld device, swiped my card, and email me a receipt right there. “That’s it?” I asked. “Have a great day Scott. We will see you at your personal training class”. Dumbfounded.
When I got home that day, I noted my electronic receipt right in the inbox. Later, I got a nice email from the business relationship person at the store. He is in charge of new companies who purchase Mac’s. He offered to help in anyway that he could to maximize the value of my purchase, including review our business needs or meeting with me at my convenience. He offered a few times, and a few ways that we could engage. Blown away.
Finally, I went online to schedule my first training sessions. Simple, clean, convenient registration process. I even found some additional classes that I could take with my sons, and even get my wife involved. Seamless. Involving the whole family, totally personal, totally engaging, totally Apple.
Dude, I am sold hook, line, and sinker on the first bite. Can’t wait for the new iPhone?
PS – Apple is a near perfect example of a high tech/high touch personalized service where smart efficiency comes built in, innovation is embedded in the experience, and employees solve consumers problems at the point of service. The fact that Apple is selling and scaling $100 annual (that equates to <$2 per 1 hour session) personal training sessions subscriptions is nearly unbelievable to me. In the three times I have been back to the store, it has been absolutely jam packed with tons of employees, tons of customers, and just a vibe that was palpable. Given my heath care orientation, I am confident that you can create a similar type of experience for consumers to engage the health care system in a highly personalized way. It will appear daunting, unscalable, and too resource intensive but I believe that the Apple Stores show how the power of branding and providing solutions consumers want can overcome these barriers and create a sustainable revenue generation machine.