After an unfortunate screen-cracking incident the other week, I needed to get my iPad replaced. So I booked an appointment at my local Apple Store. They sorted me out with a replacement to the tune of $329 which is better than buying a new one. Awesome.
This was my first experience at the Genius Bar on a Saturday afternoon. It was interesteing to see the tons of people needing help, support, and some quick tutorials were packed into the store. People in blue t-shirts were busy helping them learn new things and providing one-on-one support.
Here’s what this seemed to do for Apple’s business.
1. It created a culture of learning
Everyone was there to learn and Apple people were there to teach and answer questions. I’m sure they sold some stuff amonst all of that teaching, but there seemed to be way more teaching than selling going on. As Kathy Sierra says, when it comes to marketing “You can out-spend, or out-teach”. Apple probably do both. As for all the customers, their brains were engaged in learning how to use their iPad minis, edit photos, make music and get their MacBooks to organise their photos. And it wasn’t just that the staff were good with customer service. The fact that you could book in time at the ‘group training’ or ‘one-on-one training’ tables, or the Genius Bar shows how intentional all this learning activity was.
Now think about the last learning experience you designed. Were people booking in time (of their own free will) to take part in the learning? On a Saturday afternoon? I don’t have all the answers, but I suspect the passion Apple’s customers have for learning stems from their message of ‘we love to help you learn cool stuff’.
How can you send this message when you design your learning strategy?
2. It made it cool to ask for help
We all like to appear as though we know what we’re doing. At work or at school, asking questions isn’t usually that cool. It usually seems easier, and safer, to just keep you head down and not ask. After all, getting access to experts and coaching all takes time, and often money. Part of the value Apple were providing to their customers was helping them feel okay about asking for help. The more they asked for help, the more they learnt, and their skill levels increased.
I’m not sure what this does for sales. What I do know is, the more I can do with a computer or mobile device, the more valuable it is to me. And the more likely I am to upgrade to a newer, more powerful version of ‘the thing’. Not because it feels good to buy stuff. Because learning, like games, is about getting to the next level. When it comes to technology, the next level is often a more advanced version of your current gadget.
When you’re designing learning experiences, how do you allow people to ask experts questions? How easy is it for experts answer them and provide quick tutorials when required?
Every company should have a version of Apple’s Genius Bar. Whether it’s in person or needs to be online, you can create a culture of learning for your customers and your company. Make it cool to ask for help and grow your business by out-teaching the competition.
Do you have a ‘Genius Bar’ (or something similar) at your company? How does it work? Tell us all about it in the comments.