The Apple Store
No matter how expensive the product is and how much value I get out of it, when I interact with product or people from Apple, I'm often delighted.
After moving to Singapore in January, I’ve visited Apple store like my mom visits temple in India — at least once a week. And like my mom, I don't go there to buy things (I can’t afford most of the stuff, but that’s a separate story). I find calmness and inspiration in being surrounded by well designed products and behaviours of people working there.
I was there a few days ago, to pick up something. After I reached, an associate greets me and asks me to show the confirmation email. I pull up the email and show it to her. She’s more excited than I am but not in a fake way. Genuine excitement. She is excited for me. Then there comes a delay, let’s say — of 2-3 minutes — between the scanning of the email and the product that needs to picked up from the warehouse to the storefront. While we were supposed to wait for the package to arrive, I assumed that we will be waiting in silence and awkwardness and that she would be gone and be back when the product arrives. Neither of these things happen.
She strikes a conversation — and it’s not a shallow, salespersony conversation either. She starts with the usual ice breakers — where I am from and I follow her with the same. She explains how wearing a hijab makes everyone think that she’s from Indonesia (she is originally from Singapore) but she hasn’t got any problems with this generalisation either. I ask her how is working for Apple different than other jobs. It’s not, she says, customer satisfaction
is should be priority everywhere. And 15-20 minutes later we realised the product has already arrived. I sign off and walk out of the store and while I was walking, more than the product I was thinking about the conversation I had with her. It felt good. I despise sales people because my assumption has been that the goal of the conversation for them is to result in sales. It wasn't the case here.
The experience of transaction felt entirely different. Especially this humane touch to the transaction. The conversation went on for about 20 minutes but not once she tried to pitch a sale. It was all about what I liked and what she loved (she loves iPad Pro because she likes to draw). Two humans connecting without a specific goal.
Sure, screen kiosks at McDonalds have increased the “number” of daily transactions by cutting the queue, but will it ever increase the satisfaction after we walk out from the restaurant post meal?
Can the “feel” of a personal touch be replaced by kiosks and robots?