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A recent experience at the Apple store shows they truly understand the value of the customer experience. It was more than a purchase of a hard technological product, it was a personal, thoughtful and caring experience. Apple “gets it”. They know if they want to create passionate, loyal customers, it takes more than satisfying the customer, but wowing them. This is done by recognizing the power of each touch point with the customer.

Four simple touch points between the customer and Apple employees resulted in a memorable and powerful experience. Each touch point delivered excellent service.

The first touch point was in being able to schedule an appointment with a representative in the store. This allows the customer to plan his day and time, and it allows Apple to better staff their store and employees to meet the supply and demand.

The second excellent touch point is in the use of the customer’s name. Apple employees will try to call the customer by name before the customer tells them. This can be done by the scheduling process and then each employee will actually describe what the customer is wearing or look like, so the next employee that the customer is passed onto will be able to call her by name. What a wow this creates! Ritz Carlton is well known for this technique of passing along the guest name between the security guard, front desk host, bell person, housekeeper, etc. It creates a great feeling of familiarity and importance.

The third excellent touch point is in the interaction between the customer and the sales person. Rather than feeling they are trying to hurry the customer along just to make a sale, the rep will actively listen to what the customer is looking to do with their product. This allows them to know whether the item will live up to the expectations or if they need to suggest another item that will do what the customer wants. By truly listening to the customer’s needs and wants, the rep can give advice that is tailored to the individual customer and eliminate any feelings of a cookie-cutter approach.

The fourth excellent touch point is the checkout. It would be so easy for Apple to let the customer go stand in line and wait for the next checkout clerk like every other retail store, but that would be mediocre service. In order to deliver excellent service at this point of contact, Apple sends over a rep who has a mobile card reader to process the payment information and off the customer goes.

Apple obviously has spent a great deal of time analyzing each one of their customer touch points and identified what would be excellent service at each one. This becomes the delivery expectation for each employee. This is also what allows for a seamless and consistent customer experience at every Apple store.

A Service Map is a tool to breakdown the customer experience into individual touch points and brainstorm with your staff what are those things that are mediocre service delivery and then what are those things that can be done to raise the bar and deliver excellent service.

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