Leaked documents show Apple's tight control on store employee conduct

The shopping experience at Apple Stores seems like a nice casual environment. Walk in and you're greeted with representatives in the front, or sales associates that come to your assistance at a push of a button. Customers are free to play around with the hardware or use the display machines to check up on their inbox. The language used by sales associates is upbeat and positive.

On the surface, it's a pleasant experience. But a meticiously planned experience it is, planned to the smallest detail by Apple and executed by its retail employees with little margin for error. And that is what the Wall Street Journal's Yukari Kane found out, by speaking with current and former Apple Store employees who also showed her confidential training documents. A video interview is available here:

According to the documents, employees must stick to a script when dealing with customers. The "steps of service" involves five letters spelling the acronym APPLE:

  • Approach customers with a warm welcome.
  • Probe politely to understand all the customers' needs.
  • Present a solution for the customer to take home today.
  • Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns.
  • End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.

In addition, employees are trained not to correct customers' mispronunciation of product names, and to never use the word "unfortunately," instead opting for "as it turns out..." if they cannot resolve a customer's problem.

There are also strict rules applied to employees. Employees may face consequences if they are late more than three times in a six-month period. And of course, employees face termination if they are caught writing about their employment experiences or about Apple on the Internet.

Despite these strict rules, the sales positions are still popular. On the flipside, these conditions may be those the Apple Retail Workers Union is working to contest, despite the competitive pay offered by Apple Stores in comparison to other retailers.

Image Credit: Apple Store, Carrousel du Louvre

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