It might be expected for sales employees to be trained in certain talking points and other customer interaction, but a look into Apple's training techniques could reveal why a visit to one of its stores "is on another echelon compared to big box retail torture."
Gizmodo took a "penetrating look inside Apple" with a leaked copy of its "Genius Training Student Workbook." Gizmodo describes the training guide as a "bizarre gamut of Apple Dos and Don'ts, down to specific words you're not allowed to use, and lessons on how to identify and capitalize on human emotions."
Overall, Gizmodo writes, the guidebook isn't so much about selling products as it is maintaining "good vibes."
"The assumption, it'd seem, is that a happy customer is a customer who will buy things," Gizmodo's Sam Biddle writes.
Here are just a few of the things covered in the article about the guide, but be sure to check out the full post for more details here.
- Banned words: There are several words banned from Apple employee vocabulary with acceptable alternatives offered. Instead of "bomb" or "crash," employees should say "unexpectedly quits," "not responding," or "does not respond." Not banned but a term to be avoided in this instance is "freeze." Instead of "bug" or "problem," employees are encouraged to use "condition," "issue," or "situation."
- Avoiding confrontation: Instead of telling a customer they are flat out wrong when they come in with an assumption about this product or that, the key phrase to be used by Apple employees is "turns out." Biddle calls this "just an advanced, Apple judo version of the customer is always right." For example:
Customer: The OS isn't supported.
Genius: You'd think not, wouldn't you. Turns out it is supported in this version.
- Importance of empathy: There are "learnable phrases" in the guidebook to help employees, not sympathize, but empathize with the customer, while also not apologizing for the business or the technology. These phrases center around the 3F's: Feel, Felt, Found. Biddle points to this example:
Customer: This Mac is just too expensive.
Genius: I can see how you'd feel this way. I felt the price was a little high, but I found it's a real value because of all the built-in software and capabilities.
- Body language: In addition to listening intently to what a customer is saying and empathizing with them in the appropriate manner, reading their body language is key as well. According to the guide, having an "unbuttoned coat" with your "head titled" shows you're cooperative. Whereas, "kicking at the ground or an imaginary object" while you're saying "tsk!" and making "fist-like gestures" could mean you're frustrated.
- "Institutionalized passive aggression" (a.k.a. employee-to-employee interaction): Employees are encouraged to give each other "fearless feedback." Basically, it's a method of telling someone in the kindest way possible how to improve his or her interactions with customers. Biddle asked Apple employees if they actually use this technique, which one said, outside of training, no."Fearless Feedback was really hated around the place. If someone had Fearless Feedback, we'd listen, but then afterwards I'd have this uncontrollable urge to punch them in the face. We all found it much more effective to get Fearless Feedback from the managers, which was more like feared feedback," another former employee told Biddle.
No matter what those outside of Apple think of its training program, Biddle points out "as detached from reality, astoundingly ambitious, sprawling, and rigorous as it is, [it] works."
Read Gizmodo's full review of Apple's "Genius Training Student Workbook" here.
(H/T: Daily Mail)