I found myself “enjoying” a nine-hour stopover in London last weekend and , rather than hang about in Stansted , I headed into London city for the afternoon . It was a good day with the streets of Regent Street , Oxford Street packed with people .
Now , before I describe my experiences , I need to nail my colours to the mast . I am an Apple fan . Since I changed to Apple computers about 10 years ago , I have become a complete advocate of the company and it’s products . In addition to having a number of computers , iPhones , iPods etc – they are also clients of mine . Apple is a great business here in Cork , employing well in excess of 1,000 people . Why do I like their products ? They make using IT easy – that’s important for a guy like me who doesn’t understand what’s going on underneath the bonnet !
So , I go into the Apple Store . My first impression – it’s packed at 2pm on a Sunday . I have a good look around . All Apple products are on display – but not in display cabinets . They are on display on tables and desks . People are playing with them , touching them , exploring them , experimenting with them . Not some products – All products . Indeed , there are much more than just one of each product . I think that there were at least 8 iPads on display with people playing with them . There was no one walking around asking people not to touch , not to play . There were no restrictions – none !
I brought my own laptop – was keen to check my e-mails . There was free high-speed internet access . No login codes needed . Usage wasn’t provisional on making a purchase . There was no time limit . No restrictions , no ifs buts maybes . Simply – please come into my shop and use it for free ! (Irish Hotels and Cafes – please take note !)
Somebody was giving a lecture on how to use iPhoto ( a software application that comes with all Apple computers) . This was being staged in a small theatre-like lecture area . There were maybe 50 people at the lecture . It was very professionally delivered – The cost – free !
All around the store people were receiving one-to-one tuition and/or help with their Apple products . This service was being given by Apple “Geniuses” . Again – free ! Many people I saw were receiving help with old Apple products . Again , no conditions , preconditions etc .
So , with all this free stuff , how does Apple continue to be one of the most profitable and valuable companies in the World ? Well , I counted over 50 people queuing to purchase a product . I stayed in the store for at least one hour – the queue never fell below that number .
My read on this is quite simple – the customer’s experience is superb . Ok – their products are the best in the world but this is no longer enough – most other companies in the world have customers who believe that their products are the best . These days we have to “wow” the customer – that’s what Apple does .
Watch Apple continue to grow from strength to strength .