January 04, 2008

The Apple Store - amazing customer service story



Yesterday I decided to get my new MacBook so I drove to Charlotte NC to the Apple store at Southpark Mall. The first thing I heard was, "Nice sweater!" from a sales person.  Then she asked how she could help me. I explained what I was looking for and she was very helpful in answering some of my questions, and when she didn't know an answer, she asked someone else who had worked there longer.  When I was ready to check out, I never moved...  I kept on looking for her to walk me to the back of the store to the check out counter but that was not the case. Another guy came up and while she went to grab my new MacBook, he checked my ID so I would get the State Government discount and with a handheld device, processed the sale.  I NEVER moved! He swiped my card right there, I signed his handheld device and was good to go.  What a great experience!!!  Why can't libraries do this?  I know, the first answer is "lack of funds", but there are some things that lack of funds has nothing to do with.  How about come out from behind the desk and do roving reference.  Ask patrons what they need help with. Take them to the shelves and show them areas to browse.  If you do have the funds, get handheld devices that let you browse your card catalog and the web so while roving, you can answer questions on the spot!  Go to an Apple store and take notes.  Make changes in how you do business and you'll get more people to come into the library!
The Apple Store (U.S.) - MacBook

Blogged with Flock

16 comments:

  1. You forgot to mention that your receipt was waiting on you computer via email when you got home.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You could do this with a tablet pc and a bluetooth scanner. You would need to figure out how to provide a receipt of some sort and to desensitize the item (of course with rfid, that isn't a worry). Did you get a receipt? What did they use?

    ReplyDelete
  3. great idea! the receipt i got they printed from a central receipt printer and just went and got it for me.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Here's another one for you: I purchased an original refurbished MacBook Pro 1.x ghz that developed a problem. I took it back to the Mac Store and they said 2 to 3 day turnaround. That turned into a little over 2 weeks, BUT my original MacBook Pro turned into a brand new 2.2 ghz MacBook Pro - with no explanation - just a happy tech and salesperson saying, "here's your new computer!" Great service! They even copied most of my files from the old refurb and this one is brand new - not a refurb. Way to go Apple!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Curtis:
    This was exactly the thinking behind SirsiDynix PocketCirc launched a few years ago which is used by many libraries. No need to go to a circ desk when you can check them out anywhere - even outside of the library like in nursing homes or classrooms.
    Cheers,
    Stephen Abram

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Curtis:
    Thisn is exactly the thinking behind SirsiDynix PocketCirc. You can check out patrons from anywhere - even nursing homes and classrooms. It's a small PDA that anyone can carry around for roving library service.
    Cheers,
    Stephen Abram

    ReplyDelete
  7. And let me add you will LOVE your new MacBookPro. I got one last December and was reluctant to give up my dell inspiron --actually hd them both side by side so I could go back to the dell if I needed to, and wouldn't allow my boys to "play" and take it apart. Thought I would need both until I developed a comfort level. i can honestly say after that initial boot up with the dell right at my fingers touch, I realized immediately I would NEVER use my dell again. The boys took it completely apart and rebuilt it it, but now our family has three macs!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think some of your comments make sense for libraries. I don't necessarily think roving check out is needed, but it certainly seems to me that checkout could be completely automated and you wouldn't need the librarians or clerks behind the checkout counter at all, except perhaps to collect fines.

    If a patron already has an iPhone or other web device, they could already walk around while they're checking the card catalog, assuming the card catalog was online.

    I worked in the library (and book retail) business for many years and I can tell you that libraries in general have notoriously little money and rarely update their systems. And they try to get publishers and other service providers to give them everything for free. So it's a tough business to get changes implemented.

    But I do agree that when systems are updated, they should include some of the features you mentioned.

    As for Apple, I have some similar stories: My daughter had a laptop and her infant pushed the screen back, breaking the hinge. Apple said it wasn't worth fixing and it still worked if you put a support behind it to hold the screen up. But then the video card developed a problem. So the machine was brought to Apple (out of warranty) and instead of just fixing the video card, they replaced the entire machine at no additional charge. (My daughter called me in tears, thinking she was going to get charged $1200.)

    Meanwhile, her husband purchased a new tower and the power supply died. It was fixed under warranty and replaced. It shortly died again. It was replaced again. It died again. Apple replaced the entire machine and by that time, it was with a newer model.

    I'm writing this on a 7-year-old 400 MHZ tower and for all practical purposes, for everything except video, this machine is still faster than the Dell developer-level machine I have in my office, which has multi-processors, gobs of memory, etc. I have upgraded this machine with more memory, a large hard disk and a different DVD drive (the original didn't have write capability), but this machine has really been flawless.

    Apple does screw up every once in a while, but for the most part, they understand what a quality experience means.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The library I work at now is using roaming librarians on the floor to help people find materials, fix computer issues, and the like. But there's problems, big ones actually.

    First, how do you find a roaming librarian in a larger building? We don't wear uniforms, we don't wear "Can I Help You" vests, and we look like regular people. About the only way people find us is they either already know who we are, or we have to hang around a certain spot and patrons have to learn where that "certain spot" is.

    As to tech, we tried, man, we really tried. We've had a couple different tablet PCs to use on the floor. These had wireless connections and could link up to the OPAC and even the staff side of the ILS.

    They never worked. Our ILS pulls mad bandwidth and the tablet dragged on almost every operation you gave it. Like most libraries, our OPAC is crap and not at all helpful most of the time. The other problem? No keyboard. Well, there was one on screen, but it was slow to respond and hard to type on.

    The other thing was, I don't care how light a tablet PC can be. After you lug it around a floor for an hour or so, it gets kind heavy and there's no place to put it.

    You know, if all we had to do was access our OPAC (and if it could be made really useful), a simple iPhone might do the trick. And we could contact the staff member on the floor if needed to. Sure, we couldn't check out using an iPhone but that's fine anyway since we have to desensitize the items anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  10. HAHAA.

    Maybe if Mr. Abram spent more time USING SirsiDynix products, he would realize how bad they actually are. In the case of our library, Sirsi IS the only obstacle to adapting a more MAC Store model. It is not compatible with anything and almost totally usless as a catalog schema.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I suppose it's silly to respond to anonymous postings. I always sign my work. It doesn't take courage it's just ethical and adult.

    Anyway, I do use our products. All of the local public libraries (all 99 branches) in my hometown and most libraries in my province, the three major local universities (one of which I teach at) in my hometown, all of the community colleges and all of the public and Catholic schools, are all SirsiDynix customers using a variety of versions and types of our OPACs. I use our products - even the older versions sometimes as some clients are slower to upgrade. I use them on site and online. I even get feeback from my family using them too.

    SirsiDynix has used API's for almost 2 decades and trained hundreds of clients in API programming. Not all ILS vendors allow this. If anonymous wants to call me I'd be happy to hook him up with libraries using Apple store style systems with SirsiDynix OPACs. We could delve into what the barriers are at anonymous' library. It might make a nice open case study.

    Stephen Abram

    ReplyDelete
  12. I never purchase an apple product. Thank you for sharing this article with us.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks for the nice information. I am sure, I will tweet this to my twitter account. This will help a lot of users.

    ReplyDelete
  14. That was a good experience for you, I am sure many will get interested with this too. Thanks for the post. Keep posting.

    -mel-

    ReplyDelete