Behind The Scenes At The Apple Store: 100% Loyalty and Positivity, 0% Room For Corporate Advancement [Details]

Behind The Scenes At The Apple Store: 100% Loyalty and Positivity, 0% Room For Corporate Advancement [Details]

Want to know what it’s like to work at the Apple Store? How to get hired, what training you’ll receive, how much you’ll be paid, even the choice of words you’ll be forced to use when you let a customer down? A new subscriber only report from the Wall Street Journal has all the juicy details. Here’s the most interesting bits.

• To get a job at the Apple Store, you must go through at least two rounds of interviews. There’s no lack of applicants: each Apple Retail Store is flooded with applications of potential employees.

• Once you’re hired, you’ll go through extensive training through classes that teach reps about Apple’s principles of customer service.

• Your first few weeks as an Apple Store employee will be spent silently slinking around behind a more experienced employee, watching him work. Like a novice’s voew of silence, during this period, you will be totally forbidden to talk to customers.

• Apple sales staff make between $9 to $15 per hour. Geniuses earned up to $30 an hour.

• It is almost impossible to be promoted to corporate working at an Apple Store, although it has very occasionally happened.

• Steve Jobs picked the type of security locks that Apple Stores use personally. When he was in the hospital for a liver transplant two years ago, he reportedly spent much of his time poring over blueprints for future retail locations.

• As an Apple Genius, you must be positive at all times. This is true of Geniuses as well, who have been trained to use the phrase “as it turns out” rather than “unfortunately.”

I find the last factoid particularly interesting. I have often bristled that Geniuses can seem so patronizing and condescending, but as it turns out, I think it has to do with this so-called “positive” word choice. Apple may think that “as it turns out” is less negative than “unfortunately,” but in actuality, it’s infinitely more patronizing: saying “as it turns out” takes a corrective tone, where “unfortunately” is a commiserating one. If this is the kind of guidance Apple is giving its employees, no wonder arrogance and condescension are common criticisms leveled at Apple Store Geniuses!

Related
  • Derek Martin

    Totally agree with respect to unfortunately being better than “as it turns out”

  • Tallest_Skil

    I like the real person sneaking into that picture.

  • GP

    Perhaps the Atlanta Apple store did not train its employees with such scrutiny. My attempt to get a genius to replace a MacBook battery was a real disappointment. I won’t be going back.

  • c_cooper88

    I’d love to know if that wage translates across to the UK.

  • Rick Povich

    Just paste Secrets From Apple’s Genius Bar: Full Loyalty into a Google search and  click on the top link.  You can read the article free.

  • Reivax

    “0% Room For Corporate Advancement” and “it has very occasionally happened” don’t exactly match up. I know headlines demand brevity, but they should also aspire to be accurate.

  • Tom McGrath

    I’ve never heard any complaints from over here, I’ve talked to a few of them and they said they liked working there. One of them even said to me “We don’t really care if you buy our products, we just want to help, and we want you to like them”, to which I give him respect for.

  • Archer Sully

    I can see why I didn’t get the job ;-).

  • Buzz

    I’m glad they’ve improved.  Years ago (in 2002, I think) I went to the Apple Store in Tysons Corner, Virginia to ask how I might connect my G3 Mac with my wife’s Gateway PC and to get the stuff to do it, and there were exactly two people staffing the customer area: the manager, who was busy doing some sort of paperwork, and a nice woman at the Genius Bar whose response to every question was a smile and a “let’s look at the website.”  I think she might have been a secretary.  (I was the only customer, BTW.  Not like now.)  I wound up running after the manager, trying to ask him questions as he ran around the store, paying little attention to me.  What few answers I got from him were incomprehensible.  I finally told them I had driven 65 miles for nothing, and I left.  I almost dropped the platform after that.  Things are incredibly better these days, but I still won’t go to the Tysons Corner store, even though it’s a little closer than the one I do go to.

  • gareth edwards

    for all the gripes about the ‘positive attitude’ in the Apple stores – which is understandable – eps in the UK where customer care is much different to what a US consumer would expect, I have to say that Apple retail is a breath of fresh air.  I actually feel like I’m getting a good deal when I pop into my local store (Leicester). The staff, although uniformly ‘corporate happy’ are all great to deal with and when I have walked in with a problem (once so far) I’ve walked out happy with the problem sorted then and there.  Getting an entire retail chain to all have the same attitude to their customers is a huge task, no two ways about it and the only way to achieve this is to drum it into people so they submit to a standard way of doing stuff.  It’s harsh and inhuman in one way but the customer’s experience is better. God’s in the details.

  • thelee
  • aga

    You could of just written it, but I guess many would have failed to understand without the explanation!

  • Bob

    For Perez Brownlee, it’s all linkbait, all the time.

  • Jason Burns

    I don’t find “as it turns out” condescending at all.  As it turns out, I kind of like it.

  • Jason Burns

    That is very interesting.  Unfortunately, I disagree. 

  • Abram Siegel

    I have to say I’ve bristled at the condescending tone more than once.

  • lwdesign1

    I’m getting increasingly perturbed at John Brownlee’s articles. Apple stores provide the best service of just about any business I know. I never feel “patronized” or talked down to. The staff genuinely want to help and I routinely leave feeling that I’ve been helped and taken good care of. I object heartily to the supposed “arrogance” and “condescension” of the geniuses. I’ve been to the Glendale, CA and Tampa, FL stores each for many years and have had nothing but terrific service (except for one isolated experience when I had a guy who knew nothing about Garageband and wouldn’t admit it, but was supposed to be training me on it). Other than that one time, it’s been a consistently positive customer experience. Mr. Brownlee sounds like a Windows troll looking for comments.

    Apple’s training of its staff has resulted in me, personally, feeling great each time I come in for product information or for repairs or advice. I wish more stores trained their employees to care and be positive. I experience way too many bored, uneducated, uninterested and even rude employees at other stores–so it’s great that Apple actually cares about the way its staff treats its customers. It’s not a cult or over-control, it’s called GOOD POSITIVE SERVICE.

  • Chris Cooper

    I’ve had that two. I’ve had two interviews for Specialist.
    I’m currently working for an AASP (Apple Authorised Service Provider) which is great, but not amazingly paid. 
    It would be nice to know if Apple pay better or not.

  • Alex

    I hate to break it you John, if your working tech support in a retail store your not a genius….

    But then again you also so much else wrong

  • Alex

    Like I just did …. But then I don’t pretend to be a writer. 

  • Coach

    Although you may have had a great experience, mine was a lot different from yours. I went in there to buy an ipad. I recently read things about the ipad 2. When I asked a genius about it, they denied everything and said to stop listening to rumors. Well a month or so later, the ipad 2 came out. They’re liars.. this has happened on more than one occasion.

  • lwdesign1

    Apple store employees are never told about upcoming product releases. They are only briefed a day or so before the launch of a new product, and sometimes not even then. Your assumption that they are liars is ridiculous, as if they are somehow singling you out for bad treatment. Apple HQ does NOT tell its store employees about when new products will be launching, so they knew exactly as much as you did about the iPad 2. Except in the automobile industry, this is pretty standard. 

    Yes, it’s possible there can be snooty behavior from some employees–they’re human. But over the years, I’ve seen this type of employee only last a short time, and is the exception in the 2 stores I’ve shopped at. Apple works hard to eliminate bad service and bad attitudes. In over 10 years of regular dealings with the Glendale and Tampa Apple stores, I’ve run into exactly 1 person I didn’t like, and that’s a phenomenal record when you consider the small salary range they’re working in and the type of person who will usually work for that amount.

  • Sean Peters

    Retail employees rarely advance to corporate leadership positions. Film at 11. Really, is anyone surprised? How many salespeople at, say, Sears, advance to corporate? I’m guessing very few.

  • CharliK

    They are trained and told to focus on what they can do and not what they can’t. And unfortunately just sounds like you are getting ready to get a big bunch of ‘I can’t’ and “we don’t” which is why they are encouraged not to use the term. 

  • CharliK

    They are trained and told to focus on what they can do and not what they can’t. And unfortunately just sounds like you are getting ready to get a big bunch of ‘I can’t’ and “we don’t” which is why they are encouraged not to use the term. 

  • baristabrawl

    I used to love going to an Apple store.  Now it’s a burden and I rarely go in.  I don’t care for being stalked around the store and I don’t like being patronized.  I’m not dumb just because I don’t update my system the day a new update comes out and I wouldn’t advise people to do that.  I also can’t stand the “overly friendly” crap.  We are not friends, please make a note of it.

  • Timothy Williamson

    As it turns out, you are both wrong.

  • Wind_stopper

    Wow, the hourly wages are pretty embarrassing for a company that is worth about $300 billion.
    Starting from $9 / hr … guess the window cleaner earns more. 

  • Thrint

    $30 and hour for a genius position? Where? In Austin I was offered a Genius position in 2006 and because of my experience with Mac was told that they were able to get me much more than was usual: $16.00 an hour. I turned it down

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

(sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address)| Read more posts by .

Posted in News, Top stories | Tagged: , , , |