Our local Apple store is the Palo Alto store on University Avenue, known by some as “Steve’s Store”. My wife’s iPhone has lost its backlight, so I stopped in today to get it replaced or repaired. The store is packed, of course. I realize I should have made an appointment.
Ah, but it’s till worth checking. I step up to a computer and try to schedule an appointment – nothing available untii tomorrow. *sigh*
One of the Apple team is a few feet away, so I pull the phone out. “I think I need to get this phone fixed. The backlight doesn’t come on.” She takes it and checks some settings. “Wow, it’s really dark. No backlight at all!” She has to hold it at just the right angle to see the screen. “You checked the brightness control?” “Yeah, and I powered it down and back up a couple times. Everything seems to work except the backlight.”
She pulls out her iPod Touch. “Let’s see if I can get you on the schedule.” I’m about to tell her about checking the appointment schedule already, when she says “Can you come back in an hour?”
A few minutes later I walk out, and head across the street for a gelato and some wifi to get a little work done while I wait.
The User Experience
Apple has thought through how to make this work. Yeah, sure, they have an appointment system – that’s not such a big deal. But they don’t overbook these appointments, like so many would. They always have some ability to “Squeeze you in” if you just show up.
You can bet this is instrumented closely to ensure the right customer experience, as well as to make good use of available staff. Any good support manager would do that. But what sets this apart is the care that goes into ensuring that the whole experience works right for me, the customer.
FInishing the Story
Back in the store, I stopped the first apple person I saw, and she checked me in. I was a few minutes early for my 3:40pm appointment. At 3:43pm, a young guy found me. After a quick look at the iPhone, he said, “Let me take this in the back, where I can check inside. Sometimes it’s just a loose or broken cable.” 6 minutes later he returns with a working phone. “Ah, it was just the cable, eh?” I said. “Nope. had to replace the screen. I do need to do a little paperwork before we’re done, sorry.”
At 3:56pm I walked out of the Apple store.