Recently, Forbes published an interesting series of articles that went behind-the-scenes of one company with a particularly strong focus on the customer experience: Apple.
While the articles centered largely on the company’s meticulous approach to live service in their 360+ retail stores, as I read through I couldn’t help but think of the parallels between Apple’s in-store approach and our research into engineering low-effort customer experiences. (As background, CCC research has found that service organizations can most effectively aid customer loyalty by reducing the amount of effort that customers must put forth during a service interaction).
Creating experiences that seem near effortless for customers, however, requires quite a bit of work on the part of any company, and the Forbes articles explored, among other topics, a few of the precise details that Apple has fine-tuned to get just right. For instance, did you know that the laptops in the store are angled to a precise 70° to maximize the ‘touchability’ for shoppers?
At CCC, our experience engineering curriculum serves as a framework for service organizations to reduce customer effort. Taking a very similar approach, Apple treats each customer interaction almost as a problem-solving exercise, and they even summarize their method in a clever, easy-to-remember acronym: A-P-P-L-E.
Here’s a look at what the approach means for Apple—and what service organizations can learn from each component of the model:
- Approach customers. Seems like common sense, but proactively offering help is a simple gesture that can make all the difference in making a customer feel like the experience was as effortless as possible.
- Probe (politely). Sometimes customers don’t know exactly what they need, so asking a few questions to help better diagnose their problem or need can actually be in the customer’s best interest. It’s the ability to engage in this kind of purposeful small talk—designed to elicit important details that the customer might not otherwise share—that sets the best reps apart from their peers.
- Present a solution. You can’t always give the customer what he/she wants, but being solutions-focused and demonstrating an authentic interest in solving the customer’s problem can turn a simple “no” into a more easily accepted response for the customer. When the customer’s first choice is unavailable, positioning alternatives in the best possible light can help reps reduce effort and frustration by connecting customers with available solutions.
- Listen for (and resolve) any issues and concerns. Listening to the information provided by the customer is crucial to solving their problem efficiently, and staff that practice active listening are able to more effectively diagnose customer problems and ensure mutual comprehension—leading to quicker issue resolution and lower-effort experiences.
- End with a fond farewell. While not an explicit part of the experience engineering framework, this tip is a good idea in any situation and, if nothing else, ends the interaction on a positive note.
CCC Buzz Readers—what other elements of the service experience (live or otherwise) do you think are critical to reducing customer effort?
CCC Related Resources