Leaked 'Genius' manual offers rare insights into Apple
Customers purchase iPads at an Apple store in Toronto Friday, May 28, 2010. (Darren Calabrese / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Wednesday, August 29, 2012 9:20AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 29, 2012 1:54PM EDT
Apple's reputation as a secretive and exclusive high-tech, corporate cult just got a major boost with the leak of a fascinating, and some would say bizarre, training manual for store staff.
The manual was obtained by tech blog Gizmodo, and provides a previously unseen glimpse into the inner machinations of Apple, and the rigorous indoctrination that Apple Geniuses go through before donning their ubiquitous blue shirts and taking their place at the Genius Bar, where frustrated customers come for help.
The Genius Training Student Workbook teaches new recruits how to think, respond, react, and most importantly empathize with customers -- all with the desired end goal of keeping them happy and eventually making a sale.
The term "empathy" is repeated countless times throughout the manual, and is clearly defined as something different from "sympathy."
Rather than the ability to sympathize, or feel sorry for someone, empathy allows the subject to "walk a mile in someone else's shoes" -- with the goal, of course, that that walk ends at a cash register.
In one sneaky example of what works, trainees are encouraged to use the Three Fs: Feel, Felt, and Found.
Here’s the example provided in the manual:
- 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.
In one quick exchange, the Apple Genius manages to put himself in the customer's shoes, share his pain at the high price, then explain how he got over his own misgivings about the price once he realized the "real value" of the product.
Geniuses are also banned from using a host of key phrases that could upset a customer, suggest the product they’re having trouble with is faulty, or prevent a sale.
"Bombs," "crash" and "hang" are all words that are on the banned list, while "freeze" is another one staff are told they should avoid. Instead, Geniuses should use terms such as "unexpectedly quits," "does not respond," or "stops responding" when discussing the troubles customers are experiencing with their devices.
And one should never be so blunt as to tell a customer they are wrong. Instead, staff are trained to explain in a more roundabout way that the customer is, well, incorrect.
Here's an example from the manual:
- Customer: The OS isn't supported
- Genius: You'd think not, wouldn't you. Turns out it is supported in this version.
Here's another scenario:
- Customer: I want an iPad, but I need a mouse. I can't deal with all this touching.
- Genius: I may know how you feel. I'm a mouse fan and I felt as if I'd never get used (to a touch screen) but I found it becomes very easy with a little practice.
The manual also includes a list of maxims designed to guide the Genius's thinking on almost every level.
- "We guide every interaction."
- "We deepen and restore relationships."
- "We help them discover."
- "We enrich their lives."
The end goal in all the manual’s instructions is always to make the customer feel empowered in their decision to purchase a shiny new Apple laptop, tablet or phone.
Pushiness is never ok, and the customer should always walk away feeling that their purchase decision was entirely their own -- although if the Genius followed the manual's instructions properly, it probably wasn't.
Gizmodo reports that the Genius Training Student Workbook they obtained is the most up-to-date version of the manual.