This week someone at Gizmodo has gotten their hands on a workbook of training documents used by Apple to make sure their Genius Bar works for the customers that need it. While it might seem that any Apple document not meant to be seen by the public would be full of undeniably valuable or otherwise magical information, here the content is essentially bland. The majority of the manual, it would seem, is dedicated to making sure that each Genius makes the customers they work with happy – and satisfied enough to buy products in the future.
The manual brings on just as much psychological training as it does technical info, with the phrase “Everyone in the Apple Store is in the business of selling” right at the core. There’s a section by the name of “Selling Gadget Joy” which uses the letters A.P.P.L.E. to make the concept simple for whoever’s aiming to become Genius material. (A)pproach, (P)robe, (P)resent, (L)isten, (E)nd. That’s the Apple way for a Genius.
One of the main abilities that every Genius is taught – or that they need, rather – is the ability to empathize with whoever they’re conversing with. Apple makes it clear that a Genius should often be using the “Three Fs: Feel, Felt, and Found. This works especially well when the customer is mistaken or has bad information.” This “Fs” situation works best when a Genius (or any other Apple Store employee, for that matter,) is speaking with a customer about a product that they feel has a feature that’s out of place – or if a product is too expensive.
“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.”
There are a list of words not to use in the manual which all lead the Genius to agreeing with and helping the customer. For example instead of saying “freeze” or “frozen” or “crash”, a Genius should try to use “unexpectedly quits”, “does not respond”, or “stops responding”. Another example is “bug” or “problem” – a Genius is taught to say “condition”, “issue”, or “situation” instead.
In the end, the most controversial part of the training was the supposed set of Apple employees (or former employees) who found the training itself to be robotic. See if a Genius tells you the same next time you’re getting help from them in an Apple Store – was your training intense? They may very well tell you that they certainly felt that it was just fabulous.