Last month, Apple opened a new branch of its retail stores in southern Manhattan. Apple World Trade Center welcomed huge crowds of zealous fans and customers, elated at the chance to sample the newest offering from the company. Considering the hype and magnitude of runway for any new Apple product, the enthusiasm displayed at the grand opening wasn’t unexpected.
The cheering crowds, meticulous building architecture, and grinning employees remained synonymous with the brand. Only one thing was different from previous such endeavors – the Apple Store had officially become the Apple store.
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The Significance of Proper Nouns: Value in Human Interaction
Since May, with Apple’s new flagship store in San Francisco, all new retail stores have simply been named, “Apple,” plus the location. Apple Union Square, instead of Apple Store, Union Square. Apple Williamsburg. Apple World Trade Center. According to SVP of Retail, Angela Ahrendts, the company is focusing on making the stores “a community” rather than simply a retail space available for buying a new iPhone or MacBook.
Doesn’t this seem like a PR gimmick?
A gimmick, you say? Psh, only to the untrained Customer Experience eye! Upcoming changes to retail locations include decor revamps and the modification of the Genius Bar layout to allow customers (or non-customers) to gather at a location simply in a personal capacity. Remember that one library on campus that was the place to work, hang out, or meet up before an event? That’s what Apple wants to be, and to do so, an increase in human interaction must be made possible. Apple enthusiasts love to brag about the products, so providing them with a real, brick-and-mortar place to do it opens doors to customer loyalty and evangelism.
The best thing a brand can achieve is becoming so seamlessly integrated into a customer’s life, that buying from a competitor isn’t even an afterthought. Keeping that in mind, Apple’s new move is “genius”. Of course, there are moving pieces. Coming up with a clean focus for the Apple store brand with all its different purposes, from retail to Genius Bar support to community enrichment, will certainly be a challenge. If Ahrendts is successful in bringing more human interaction to the tech giant’s brand, however, this could be a revolutionary move in the company’s history.
What this Means for Apple’s Lauded Customer Experience
Apple has always been a front-runner in customer experience quality among its peers. What made the iPhone such a huge success? It customer-focused interface (ease-of-use) and the confidence that users have always had in the company’s ability to fix any problems with the product. This confidence is what makes the iPhone worth the relatively high initial investment.
It only makes sense, then, for the company’s next step to be to focus on strengthening this experience as the launch of the new MacBook Pro approaches. The applications of creating an in-house community could be endless.
The Apple Store’s Evolution of Customer Experience