Over the past few days we've talked on this blog (I've made a few posts and you, through the TalkBack, have expanded on them and added your views) about what makes Apple different to, say Dell or Best Buy. With that in mind, I came across this post by Canadian venture capitalist Rick Segal and his description of how an Apple store in Toronto was transformed into a Best Buy in ten minutes.
Yesterday, I was at the Apple store here in Toronto. I had gone in to buy a few things (extra power cord, memory upgrade, Apple Air, etc). I've always been impressed by the efficiency of that store. Taking orders and payments on the floor, emailing receipts, signing up the Apple Care/Warranty stuff on the spot, etc. It's a great shopping experience.
Yesterday, the point of sale systems went offline with the credit/debit card systems. This was NOT Apple's fault rather TD Bank or Bell Canada or somebody in between but, for sure, not the Apple Store's fault.
Instantly, the Apple Store became Best Buy. It was amazing, actually. Surly staff, pissed off customers, no help, and long lines. Just like normal stores. The transformation took all of ten minutes.
In that time is appears that Apple customers, usually a cheerful bunch, had turned positively feral:
The customers. Well, there's a story. People in line were taking shots at Apple. Cracks about "bet they are using a damn Mac" were being flung around in anger not jest. Really. I was expecting a flood of Windows back end shots, but the Apple faithful taking shots at their own kind? This made the case, loud and clear, that grumpy customers are grumpy customers. Even though every employee basically said TD bank is offline (which may or may not have been true), nobody cared. It was Apple's fault, Apple sucked, Mac's suck, life sucks, etc.
Civilization is a thin veneer on top of savagery. Get between an Apple customer and his or her latest fix and you realize just how thin that veneer actually is.
Seriously though, Apple does go to great lengths to tune the shopping experience (partly it does this through the use of technology, partly through prices that keep the riff-raff out, partly through using commercials to generate a vibe and partly through hiring good people). I know, I've seen Apple's sales machine at work myself, close up, and been quite impressed by it. But it's Apple doing all the hard work here, don't be fooled into thinking that Apple customers are any different to anybody else's customers.