We all know that Steve Jobs is obsessed with crafting top-notch customer experiences. Of course, he’s famous for being dismissive of focus groups, but did you know he spies on customers at his local Apple Store?
Better than that, he hides in the bushes outside the store carefully watching what’s going inside, like some black-turtlenecked Jane Goodall.
According to Louis Corso, a former employee at the Apple Store Stanford:
“We would find him hiding behind the bushes or around the corner outside, peering inside to see what was going on. We would go, ‘There’s Steve! Everybody play cool.’ We thought he was evaluating us. It was nerve-wracking.”
But Steve wasn’t spying on the employees, he was carefully watching what the customers were up to. “He was directly observing how customers acted around his products and teasing out what they believed about his company. He was staying in touch, albeit from a slightly comic distance,” says the The ZURBlog, which reported Corso’s story.
The New York Times also noted that Jobs visits the store frequently to get a feel of what’s going on.
Here’s Steve in 2004 posing with a customer at the Stanford Apple Store: