A review of The Apple Experience by Carmine Gallo
If you’ve never ventured into an Apple Store, today’s announcement of new Apple laptops might make you want to visit. And a visit to an Apple Store is quite an experience. While not every location is as visibly dramatic as Apple’s Fifth Avenue store in New York City with its impressive glass cube, Apple Stores are always located in the most fashionable retail locations. But what is it about these stores that can make the most die-hard Microsoft or Android fan want to buy a MacBook Pro, a new iPhone, or an iPad?
The Apple Experience by Carmine Gallo is the third book of a “trilogy” that includes The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs and The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs. The focus of this title is about the inner workings of Apple’s retail stores, which generate more revenue per square foot than any other retailer. But Apple hasn’t reached lofty revenue goals by focusing exclusively on revenue. In fact, the Apple retail store concept was widely ridiculed almost immediately as the first store opened in 2001. Instead, the focus of Apple’s retail stores is “enriching lives”. Apple understands that customers don’t just want to purchase a computer. Customers want to know how to use a computer to achieve their goals.
A key lesson that Apple learned in the development of their retail concept was to look outside of their industry for inspiration. So instead of looking at Gateway Computer, whose retail stores were permanently closed in 2004, Apple looked to the Four Seasons Hotel and its fantastic customer experience.
And just as Apple looked to other sources for its inspiration, so has author Carmine Gallo. While Apple’s logo graces the cover and many of the book’s major themes, he also profiles companies such as AT&T, Lush, Starbucks, and Zappos.
The 256-page book is organized into three parts: Inspiring Your Internal Customer, Serving Your External Customer, and Setting the Stage. I expected the book to focus on typical retail concepts like selling skills or product placement. But I was surprised that Mr. Gallo devotes nearly 90 pages to Inspiring Your Internal Customer – your employees. Hiring and training are a big part of creating the Apple experience.
At first glance, it might seem like this book is only relevant to people working in the retail industry. But as the author writes,
This book is for anyone who has a business that deals with people. Sure, it includes retailers in any category. But… it’s for anyone who is serious about reimagining the customer experience, because at its core, this book is not about Apple. It’s about the soul of Apple – it’s people.
Most people don’t know why they feel good in an Apple Store, they just do. But it’s people who elevate the customer experience – people who are inspired, are passionate, and have been given the resources and taught the communication techniques required to turn transactions into experiences…
Apple inspires and creates a happy place for people to work and for customer to learn. Inspire people and anything can happen.
So where is the value in this book for business intelligence professionals? Business intelligence is more than “big data” or “sexy visualization tools”. It’s about helping people solve business problems with technology- about enriching lives, just like Apple Stores. And just like Apple learned a lot about customer service by studying organizations outside its industry, I believe that you’ll learn a lot about improving your business intelligence organization’s customer experience in a similar way.
BI managers, in particular, should definitely read this book. Then take the whole BI team to a nearby Apple Store. Take a look at those iPads and their possibility for mobile business intelligence. Deliberately engage with the Apple Store employees. Then take some time afterward to discuss the store visit with your team. What impressed them about their experience? What, if anything, was unremarkable or undesirable?
Then ask the bigger questions. What would a business intelligence genius bar look like? How can our organization implement training similar to the Apple Store’s One-to-One program to increase user adoption? How can we employ Apple’s Five Steps of Service and rethink how we engage our users? How do we make the experience memorable and not the usual “oh crap, I need to go talk to somebody in IT”?
These are important questions. And I believe this book can help inspire you to find some answers.
For More Information
I had never heard of Lush soaps until reading this book, which inspired me to get some of their products for my wife. An interesting company with an unusual approach to beauty products. Worth checking out both for the products and the in-store retail experience. Their “About Us” video is pretty funny as well as informative.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from McGraw-Hill, the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
What do you think a genius bar for business intelligence would look like? Does your organization have one?