Business Practices | | Published September 10, 2012

Keep it real

Recently, Gizmodo got their hands on Apple’s “Genius” handbook which revealed how employees are to help customers, and more specifically how to converse with them about product issues.

They learn how to deal with doubtful buyers who are having a hard time justifying the cost of a new Mac as well as words that should never be used when dealing with service issues.  For example, they are taught to never refer to something as being “froze up” or using the word “freeze”, but rather to use words like “does not respond” or “unexpectedly quits”.  Apple obviously knows that words and gestures have power.

Gizmodo notes that - Geniuses are directly told not to apologize in a manner anyone would call direct. If someone walks in sobbing because their hard drive is fried, you’ll receive no immediate consolation. “Do not apologize for the business [or] the technology,” the manual commands. Instead, express regret that the person is expressing emotions. A little mind roundabout: “I’m sorry you’re feeling frustrated,” or “too bad about your soda-spill accident,” the book suggests. This is, of course, the equivalent of telling your girlfriend “I’m sorry you feel that way” during a fight instead of just apologizing for what you did.

I’ve got to agree with Gizmodo on this one.  What’s wrong with a simple “I’m really sorry to hear this” – and be real about it?  That’s much better than feeding the customer a line of robot b.s. about feeling sorry about how they are feeling.  What the heck is that all about?  Customers want to have their issues resolved and their questions answered.  If it’s going to cost money, or the news you have to deliver is not good, just level with the customer and be real about it, don’t try to stand above them and lay some psychology play on them.

Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with a polished service team, and a consistent message, but as automated phone systems have taught us over the years, humans prefer to deal with humans, not scripted robots.  Give your service team guidance and direction, but don’t take away the human experience either.  It tends to get messy when you over think these things.