- Apple is known for its customer service
- Employees are told never to say no
- It works hard to keep new products secret even from staff
Whether you’re an iPhone user or not, you’ve probably heard about how good Apple’s customer care is when compared to other brands. The same is true for the in-store experience in Apple Stores around the world. In India, the official Apple stores aren’t here yet, but the affiliates work hard to maintain the same levels of customer satisfaction. Like any business though, things are a little different behind the scenes, and if you’re ever wondered what life is like for the people working in these jobs, then you’re in for some fun.
A recent article by Thrillist parts the curtain and gives people a look backstage.
One interesting thing – and you might have noticed this – the article (which has inputs from three Apple Store veterans with about five years of work experience each) reveals that the Apple Store employees are not allowed to say “no”, directly. According to one of the sources, Lucas, the employees would have to find workarounds, so they would have to say something like, “Yes, I absolutely can help you and I’d love to. The replacement is $199,” instead of saying “no, you’ll have to get a replacement.”
Lucas also talked about a loophole that allow people to get a free replacement iPhone from Apple. All it takes is a little bit of research and knowing the right way to ask. “The iPhone 6 had an issue where the camera had a film that would slowly slide over the lens,” he explained. Now that’s a problem that users could get a replacement for. If they walked in with a cracked screen and said, “I dropped my phone and it’s cracked,” then they’d have no luck getting a replacement, but if they were to say, “I know this film is a defect,” then Apple would replace even a broken phone because of a known issue. “It is always worth looking up issues like this ahead of time,” Lucas said.
That said, it’s pretty clear when people are lying. According to Tony, who worked with Apple as a Family Room Specialist for five years, one customer tried to convince him that liquid damage was some alien fluid, from when he was abducted by aliens. Another customer claimed that he shot his phone with a rifle because it wasn’t working – that phone wasn’t replaced. And there was a customer who walked in with a deformed phone and claimed that it had suddenly gotten very hot and burst into flames. On the inside, it was filled with water – the customer said he threw water on it because it was on fire, but the employee is quite convinced that what really happened is that the phone got wet, so the customer decided to microwave it.
However, the Apple Store employees also admitted that they couldn’t help customers for stuff like frayed cables. “We’d just have to say they’d probably been wrapping it incorrectly or not caring for it properly, even though it was clear a ton of people had the exact same issue,” said David, a part-time sales specialist with four and a half years of experience.
The Apple Store employees are divided into four categories. There’s the Genius, who are the ones fixing your computer, and are given intensive training from Apple. Red Zone specialists are sales reps that help you buy the different products. Family Room specialists are the ones who have to repair your phone, which people said was the hardest job in the store. And finally, there are Leaders, who are the management for the store.
Across the board though, Apple works hard to keep its new products a secret even from these employees. According to one of them, the first batch of Lightning cables was even shipped inside a mock enclosure that mimicked the older 30-pin cable design, and instructions on how to reveal the new connector were sent only after the new cable was unveiled.
Funnily, the policy of never saying no also means never asking people to leave – as long as people weren’t bothering other customers. According to one David, there was an older customer who would come in every single day and look up pictures of Mila Klunis and other celebrities for hours.
The Apple Store employees know about more than just what people are looking up in the store though. Pictures of people’s private parts were all too common when the staff was helping with data migration from devices.
As one of the employees put it: “Some things just can’t be unseen.”