A leaked copy of the Apple Genius Training manual found its way into the hands of Sam Biddle, writter for Gizmodo.com, the gadget and tech website. I’ve read through the article while I haven’t revised my thoughts on the Apple Empire, I think it’s pretty interesting to get a glimpse into such a private company.
It would seem that Apple has a two week course that indoctrinates new employees in the lessons about navigating any customer situation. Normally I’m not super excited about Apple. While I do find there products fairly intuitive and even sexy, on occasion, I generally feel that in too many cases, owning an Apple product is seen as a status symbol, and I never had a lot of shiny new toys as a kid. I’m not impressed by what you own, and if that’s what you choose to define you as a person, you need to take stock and reconsider.
‘Empathy’ seems to come up a lot in the manual, which makes sense. In my previous incarnation as a retail manager, we wanted our employees to focus on the customer. Address their concerns with understanding, use language that didn’t alienate, make sure they feel comfortable with the purchase. It was all very customer focused, but, like it’s mentioned in the article, store are businesses. Business are meant to make money, especially publicly traded ones. Apple, or anyone else, has nothing to apologize for trying to make money. It’s how you make money. They seems to want to give the customer an overwhelmingly positive experience by setting their Geniuses up with a solid foundation, and I say ‘kudos’! (Not the delicious, chocolate covered granola bar ‘Kudos’)
Biddle seems surprised at the cult-like nature of the program, but with a little basic word association exercise with ‘Apple’, the word ‘cult’ would come up every now and then, I’m sure. Granted, the language used from the role-play examples seems a bit bizarre and cyborg-ish, I think the spirit to make it a comfortable experience for the customer is there. When you join a new company, especially on the front line, you’re expected to drink the Kool-Aid. You have to give up at least a part of yourself to something larger. How you look, speak and act are all part of that.
A former Genius confides in Biddle that some of the role-play conversations are never realized in a real environment. As a manager, I often found employees hard a hard time translating their learning to real life and would often revert back to whatever they had done before. This lies on the content developers to create a realistic training journey for the learners to take. If people don’t speak like robots, don’t write dialog like a robot. This then falls to the front line managers to ensure that people are using their new found skills. Are those manager equipped for that job? Also an important question.
All in all, I don’t think this is an evil plan by Apple to brainwash their people. I think it’s a very thorough training program that may be lacking a bit of a human touch. That seems to line up pretty well with the company that Jobs had created.