Lessons from Apple's Genius Bar

Nalpeiron Technology Blog, August 2013 http://blog.nalpeiron.com/

Lessons from Apple’s Genius Bar


The writer of several books on management, Alan Deutschman, once wrote of Steve Jobs that: “He doesn’t market-test anything. It’s all his own judgment and perfectionism and gut…. Again and again, Mr. Jobs has gambled that he knew what the customer would want, and again and again he has been right.” However, nothing could be further from the actual facts.


This week I booked an appointment at a local Apple Store Genius Bar. There are several in San Francisco to choose from.  This time, I was able to get a same day appointment at a mall I drive to, where I enjoy the free parking, and the more suburban, low-key friendliness of the place.  I had forgotten that the low-key branch is now populated with about 50 employees all ready to pounce on me in an enthusiastic attempt to help.  But I have only one destination in mind: Get me a Genius.


I explain to my kindly Genius that it’s basically all my fault.  I had bought a new internal hard drive, taken it home, and had never been able to perform a proper back up.  For years I have known how to scrub a Mac hard drive clean and put it back together, so I was surprised at my failure. Now all my applications were missing and it was a mess.  The Genius was, as always, patient, careful, and instead of fixing the problem, taught me how to fix it myself.  As it turns out, the latest OS, Mountain Lion, uses a built-in separate recovery partition from which I should have rebooted my backup.  The Genius set my computer up on the bar and we ran the restore while I did some shopping.


Why am I telling this story?  Because Apple does not provide over an hour’s worth of free face-to-face technical support to me just because I’m a nice, 2-decades long Mac-fanatic. The fact is that behind the closed doors of those Genius Bars around the world is a continuous feeder system to Apple about what its customers are thinking, saying, having trouble with, enjoying, using, getting frustrated with, and wanting more of regarding <a href=”  http://www.nalpeiron.com/NalpeironSoftwareAnalytics.html”>  application usage behavior</a>. In my case, my Genius tracked his work with me in a lengthy typed report he recorded on a computer before we restored the back up, and again when I picked up the computer.  His work with me would also have been reported in the employee room verbally and, in certain stores, “...customer comments are scrolled across a large-screen TV monitor in the employee break room.” Another Myth Bites the Dust: How Apple Listens to its Customers (Forbes, 8/26/2011)

So what can your tech services company do to match the level of in depth knowledge and understanding of its end users that Apple does, short of building Genius Bars in every major (and minor) city around the globe and populating them with dozens of fans addicted to your products?  The solution is to track customer usage with software analytics designed to measure <a href=”  http://www.nalpeiron.com/NalpeironSoftwareAnalytics.html”>  application usage behavior</a> and report on <a href=”  http://www.nalpeiron.com/NalpeironSoftwareAnalytics.html”> adoption rates </a>. Nalpeiron’s Software Analytics provides real time data that your tech enterprise can truly use and give you customer feedback on your products.  That way your product manager can track that cool new feature (recovery partition) was not being used by as many customers as predicted and begin to discover solutions. Are customers just not interested and the feature is a flop? Is it a marketing issue? Is it a communication issue?


<a href=" http://www.nalpeiron.com/NalpeironSoftwareAnalytics.html "> Application usage monitoring </a> provides more accurate feedback on customer usage patterns and behavior and can actually have greater accuracy than what the customer actually says.  When <a href=” http://www.nalpeiron.com/NalpeironSoftwareAnalytics.html”> application usage tracking</a> is monitoring every keystroke, the micro-level of this information is more indicative of the customer’s behavior than any verbal or written feedback could provide.


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