What retailers can learn from Apple’s secret employee training manual

Apple’s tight ship has a small leak that other retailers may be able to drink from. Gizmodo uncovered a training manual for Apple Geniuses that shows the tactics Apple employees use to make the customer feel, ahem, “empowered” to buy.

Apple made $4.1 billion from its retail stores in its last fiscal quarter alone. That’s a 17 percent rise over last year, proving that Apple has something to teach when it comes to pushing product. In many training schedules, a new salesperson may learn how to promote a credit card or where the store stashes the extra stock. On the other hand, Apple dictates ways to make the customer feel in control, even down to the words that should be avoided in customer interaction.

First, Apple emphasizes empathy over sympathy. Employees should be able to read the mood their customer is in and relate to their situation. They use the “three Fs,” or Feel, Felt, Found, which suggest “empathy and not condescension.”  Apple uses this as an example “three Fs” situation:

Customer: This Mac is just too expensive.

Genius: I can see how you’d feel this way. I felt the price was a little high, but I found it’s a real value because of all the built-in software and capabilities.

For other retailers this means building a connection between you and the customer that is familial and breaks down the air of, “You have the money, I have the products. Give me your money.”

However, Apple specifically instructs its Geniuses not to apologize for issues with the products. Rather Geniuses should sweetly apologize for customers’ ineptitude with things like, “Too bad about your soda-spill accident.”

For legal reasons employees aren’t allowed to use certain words either, such as crash or bug. These should be replaced with “does not respond” and “condition.”

Lastly, Apple makes sure that if you didn’t know how to read body language, you will after its training. It includes a long list of positive and negative reactions, such as what it means when a person it smiling (they’re open) or what if they steeple their hands (they’re confident).

Check out more images of the manual over at Gizmodo.

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