Friday, March 2, 2007

Solving the Bandwidth Problem at Apple Stores

Apple, Inc. has a knack for solving bandwidth problems, but there is one bandwidth problem it has yet to solve: customers waiting for long times at the Genius Bars. Apple is a victim of its own success. People are buying its products in record numbers. Those same people need service and support.

While waiting for the Genius Bar, nerves fray. Tempers flare. The goal then becomes to try to get out of the store before ripping someone’s throat out.

The stress on the people working at the Genius Bars is also unfair. Those people do an incredible job working under very tough conditions. Their work conditions and the treatment of Apple customers waiting in long lines has to improve.

Several years ago Apple moved to dual-processors, so the time is right to move to dual Genius Bars in every Apple store. This is a design decision. Apple can have pretty looking spacious stores, or it can have customers with more smiles on their faces.

Apple no longer needs stores which attractively display its merchandise. Almost everyone walking into an Apple store is there to buy Apple products. People don’t travel to an Apple store when they’re thinking about buying an Apple product. They go to an Apple store when they’re ready to buy.

We no longer need spacious, pretty stores. We need to stores with greater bandwidth for tech support.

Dual Genius Bars won’t be enough, though. At some time Apple needs to create stores whose sole purpose is tech support and training. Tech support is itself a product. Sure, basic level tech support is owed all paying customers. But there are people whose time is valuable enough that they would gladly pay for Executive tier tech support at $300/year (or more.)
Those people currently have few options, although ProCare is a step in the right direction.

With Executive tier tech support taking place in a different (nearby) store, the dual Genius Bars each would have greater bandwidth. Do you get the picture? Happier customers creating greater bottom line sales and profits.

Bandwidth problem solved.

Phil Shapiro

The author is the former president of the Virginia Macintosh Users Group. He has given Mac training to about two thousand people in the past 10 years. He can be reached at pshapiro at