Monday, December 11, 2006

Retail organization and employee evangelists

I’ve blogged many times on the importance of brands engaging and empowering employees – at a retail or customer service level – to be evangelists. No other time of the year polarizes a company’s employees more than the holiday season…it’s when great retail excels and bad retail is a gift-wrapped Pandora’s box of frustrations. And I’d wager that not too many places across our country are as holiday-ed up as Kansas City’s own Country Club Plaza. It’s a Mecca of lights, big-name stores and bustling shoppers.

I was getting coffee and doing some writing yesterday and decided to visit the Apple Store before I headed out of the Plaza. Though I can browse and play in there for hours, I had a few actual questions pertaining to both my iPod and MacBook. So, in I walk: a no-profit, question-asker in the middle of the holiday rush. But the Apple Store was just as prepared for me as it was for the mom who was on an iPod bender.

Oftentimes, at a retail level, the best way to let employees be evangelists is to arm them with the opportunity to interact with consumers. Three ways Apple prepares its stores to ensure each customer gets the attention he or she needs (and lets employees be evangelists):
  1. Construct pay-station kiosks for the most popular products: MacBooks and iPods are sectioned off in a stocked-on-the-floor area with an employee (or two) devoted to simply working that product. This allows the register, Genius Bar and other employees freedom to serve focused purposes.
  2. Devote people and a place to customer service: the Genius desk is a year-round feature in stores, but it further proves its worth in high-traffic by offering current owners a chance to get their product questions answered. Or simply a venue for advice and brand talk. A physical display of loyalty to those who already are interacting with the products.
  3. Offer ample, smart staff: Apple may “over staff” by some retail standards, but I rarely – even on the busiest days – wait for help. Apple's other employee advantage is its training and lack of "seasonal" knowledge. Each of its employees can navigate the brand. And when employees aren’t directly answering inquiries or making a sale, they are messing around with products, showing browsers how to use iPhoto or import music or sync iCal. Brilliant.

By organizing its employees, space and products efficiently, the Apple Store is a low-stress experience, even at its busiest time. This organization ensures the brand’s important experiential environment, which encourages play, interaction and dialogue. All of these things yield sales and brand loyalty.

And most importantly, the organization Apple uses allows its employees the opportunity to engage others in the brand they visibly love.

(Employee/consumer love-fest)

Listening to - Stan Getz, Anniversary

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home