Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Apple Of My Eye

On Sunday morning, as I started to check messages on my iPhone, I couldn't get anything to come up on the display. I quickly realized that no matter what I did, there was nothing that was going to fix my white screen with the disturbing lines running through it. The great thing about the iPhone is that I can use it for everything, but when it malfunctions, it quickly becomes the worst thing. While the white screen may have worked as an adequate flashlight, it clearly needed a repair.

Since I was traveling, and there wasn't an Apple Store within 100 miles of my location, I visited a local AT&T store. It was a waste of time - not entirely their fault mind you, but a waste of a trip nonetheless. After calling Apple Technical Support, I learned that my iPhone was still under warranty and that since I didn't have an Apple store nearby, I could mail them the phone and receive a new one. Seemed like a reasonable solution, but since I was going to be on the road awhile and moving from place to place, there was no reliable mailing address for me. It would not be the quick fix I needed.

Without any form of mobile communication, I had no choice but to fill-up the tank and drive to the "nearby" Apple Store 123 miles away. As Sunday drives go, not too bad really. When I arrived at the Apple store just in time for my 3:00 p.m. Genius Bar appointment, I was greeted with a smile by an Apple employee standing at the front door.

It reminded me of visiting a bicycle shop or ski store. These independently run specialty stores are usually staffed by people who LOVE what they do. They understand their sport and the equipment like the back of their hands and always make you feel at home whether you're an expert or a novice. They have a palpable enthusiasm for their job, and it's always a great customer experience.

The Apple store in Des Moines, Iowa was no different. Everyone was terrific, from the greeter at the door to "Luke" the Apple Genius, who repaired the display on my iPhone in all of about 6 minutes. Best of all, when he handed me the phone, I felt like he was even happier than I was. He got real joy out of my satisfaction that the phone had been fixed so quickly.

The people at Apple, both on the phone and in the store, don't want me as a customer, they want me to be their client. They're about building the relationship versus facilitating the simple transaction. The iPhone may have malfunctioned, but the people behind the product could not have performed more brilliantly.

The simple reminders for me are: 1) if you handle adverse situations well, you strengthen relationships; and 2) we should all approach our jobs with the energy and enthusiasm of the Apple employee or specialty store worker.

Quick note: Luke's T-Shirt sported another reminder, "Not all superheroes wear capes."

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