Archive for the ‘Retail’ Category

What Apple mean by APPLE

June 21, 2011

I work with quite a lot of service businesses and it’s a perennial challenge to find instructive yet inspiring ways to encourage customer-facing staff to behave in the way the brand desires. So I noticed this in an article (PSFK, from about how they use an APPLE code to get staff to remember the basic guidelines for interacting with customers:

pproach customers with a personalized warm welcome.
robe politely to understand all the customer’s needs.
resent a solution for the customer to take home today.
isten for and resolve any issues or concerns.
nd with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.

Simple but effective I bet. There are some interesting additional guidelines too:

* “Listen and Limit your responses to simple reassurances that you are doing so. ‘Uh-huh’ ‘I understand,’ etc.”
* Employees are not supposed to sell products but to help customers. “Your job is to understand all of your customers’ needs — some of which they may not even realize they have.”
* Employees can’t correct mispronunciations of Apple products. If the customer calls iPod Touches “iTouches” that’s just fine.

I’ve marvelled at the exceptional service in my visits to Apple stores, often from young cool guys, and this helps to explain how they pull it off. I can see how they do follow these principles, in a very natural yet highly consistent way. No wonder Apple’s stores have grown into a $12bn plus empire.


Marks & Mars?

August 10, 2010

Is it me or does it just feel plain wrong to see other people’s brands in M&S food stores?


I can see the business case: encourage customers to do more of their regular shopping with us so they don’t feel as much need to go to other stores and see M&S as more of an everyday food shop.  This is the strategy behind Waitrose Essentials and it’s been pretty successful for them.

But with M&S it really jars for me: I go there to get unique yummy food and a feel good ‘treat’ experience that I can’t get anywhere else. The bubble is burst for me when I see ‘ordinary’ brands there, even if they’re quite iconic ones: Coke, Mars, Wispa, PG Tips, Yorkshire Tea, Kelloggs, Marmite.  I can see the business logic of catering for the Coke/Mars bar needs of some lunchtime sandwich purchasers but the risk of brand experience dilution for the wider audience seems high.

And the prices aren’t terribly competitive either and these are what supermarkets call Known Value Items: things that shoppers buy often enough to have a good idea of the prices. By charging a premium for them, isn’t there a risk that it will confirm people’s perceptions that M&S is pricey generally?