The Genius Bar at the Apple Store SoHo, New York, in 2003
|Formation||May 19, 2001|
The Genius Bar is a tech support station located inside Apple's retail stores, the purpose of which is to provide concierge-style support for customers of Apple products. Ron Johnson, the former Senior Vice President for Retail, has often referred to the Genius Bar as the "heart and soul of our stores". Employees are specially trained and certified at the Genius Bar. Their role is to help customers with Apple hardware and software. All in-store repairs of Apple products are carried out by "Geniuses", formerly known as Mac Geniuses. In September 2009, the Family Room Specialists were folded into the mix to handle iPod and iPhone troubleshooting. After its release in 2010, iPad appointments also fell under the Family Room Specialists. Apple now maintains two Genius Bar queues: Mac and Mobile Device.
The Genius Bar was referenced in a short-lived 2012 television advertising campaign with an actor portraying a Genius Bar employee who helped Apple customers in everyday situations. The ads were generally poorly received and were subsequently withdrawn.
The layout of a Genius Bar previously consisted of at least two 15" MacBook Pro computers, often mounted on "floating" stands. Employees now use iPads with similar software to check in machines for repairs. There may be other "floating" notebooks for iPod/iPhone troubleshooting, often referred to as "floaters". LCD screens behind the Bar play looped videos which offer tips to customers waiting for help. Stools can be found in front of the Bar for people to sit and chat with each other or with employees.
The "Red Telephone" sometimes seen behind the Genius Bar was a direct line to Apple product specialists, allowing for problems and questions too complicated for the in-store employees to answer. As of August 2009, this phone is no longer installed in newer Apple Retail Stores and removed in others.
The employees can also be viewed as the local representatives of AppleCare. They offer personal support when customers have problems or questions relating to their Apple products. Most services carried out at the Genius Bar are free. Non-warranty service (which is paid for by the customer when repairs are complete) is also routinely performed. In some countries, Apple has service depots where portable repairs (for issues such as accidental damage) can be completed for a flat rate. Most portable computer repairs and all desktop repairs are performed in-store and completed overnight or within a few days.
Larger support teams are headed up by the "Lead Genius", who schedules workers, and handles customer service issues at the Genius Bar. The Lead Genius is assisted by the "Genius Admin", who is in charge of managing the administrative paperwork, organizing the Geniuses' work and liaising with customers about their repairs.
Trainees (referred to as "GYO", or Grow-Your-Own Geniuses) are not certified, but trained for iPod and iPhone issues, and help out where needed before going to formal training and certification at one of several training locations worldwide, including Cupertino, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Austin, Texas; Sydney, Australia; London, England and Ireland.
Genius Training Student Workbook
The Genius Training Student Workbook is Apple's employee training manual for Apple Store tech-support employees, called Geniuses. The manual features various marketing techniques revolving around the end goal of selling merchandise. One of the basic tenets taught to the employees in training is that “Everyone in the Apple Store is in the business of selling”.
The basic selling strategy is summed up with a mnemonic device: Approach, Probe, Present, Listen, End (APPLE). When customers have concerns, the prescribed response in the manual is the "Three Fs:" Feel, Felt, and Found technique. Although employees who are not in the Genius role don't receive this manual or go through this training, every Genius must attend a two-week recruit training that mandates programs as diverse as “Using Diagnostic Services” and “The Power of Empathy.” Geniuses also have a list of words that the manual clearly stipulates as banned; words such as "bomb", "crash" and "hang" must be substituted by "does not respond" or "unexpectedly quits". The manual also teaches employees to read emotional cues such as drumming on a table or placing a palm on the back of the neck that might mean a customer is bored or frustrated, respectively.
The manual was a well-kept secret, until a copy leaked in August 2012 and ended in the hands of Gizmodo's senior staff writer Sam Biddle, who commented: "It’s a penetrating look inside Apple: psychological mastery, banned words, roleplaying—you’ve never seen anything like it." A Christian Science Monitor article connected the manual's contents to the idea of the "reality distortion field", a term for Apple's effectiveness at charming customers.
Currently, Apple offers the Genius Bar for technical support, and has Creatives — software trainers — available at all times to answer less technical questions.
Over the years, Apple has experimented with ways of offering service and support to complement the Genius Bar. Some examples, all now defunct, include:
- The Studio is staffed by "trainers" who serve customers with questions about many Apple consumer and pro applications, such as iLife, iWork, Final Cut Pro, and Aperture. Third party applications are not officially supported.
- The iPod Bar serves to separate out the customers with iPod-related questions to allow the Genius Bar to focus on customers with Macintosh-specific queries.
Pro Labs and Open Lab were introduced with the opening of the Apple Store on West 14th Street in New York City, New York while Pro Labs is also offered at the Sydney, Australia Apple Store and the Pudong, China Apple Store. Open Lab to date is only offered at the West 14th Street location.
- Pro Labs consist of eight hours of training, spread across a series of four two-hour sessions. Much like The Studio, these sessions focus on Apple's "Pro Apps" such as Aperture and Final Cut Pro, as well as other third-party applications such as Photoshop, however, they are much more in-depth and focused than sessions at The Studio.
- Open Lab provides first-come, first-served assistance to customers with various applications, much like the early days of the Genius Bar, but with an emphasis on software as opposed to the Genius Bar's focus on hardware.
Apple has also branded features in their iTunes application "Genius" that make musical suggestions based on the user's observed taste.
- IFO Apple Store (2004-03-01). "Analysts' Conference". Archived from the original on 2006-10-16. Retrieved 2006-10-13.
- Ungeni.us, "Mac Genius Training".
- Hof, Robert (July 30, 2012). "Viewers Give Apple's 'Genius' Olympic Ads A 'D' For Dumb". Forbes. Retrieved October 18, 2012.
- Foresman, Chris (August 22, 2012). "Apple attempts to scrub controversial "Genius" ads from the Internet". Ars Technica. Condé Nast. Retrieved October 18, 2012.
- "Big Crowds Cheer Apple Store Debut in California" (PDF). Mac World. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
The Glendale Store's Genius Bar has a red phone with a direct line to Apple tech support. One customer on Saturday posed a question about whether software that Collier couldn't answer; one call on the red phone later, and the problem was solved within 10 minutes
- Ryan, Christopher (12 August 2009). "Five Apple Retail Flopps". Retrieved 3 March 2015.
In reality, many stores never used the red phone (after all, the idea was the Geniuses are supposed to be geniuses, right?) and it was simply relegated to a more iconic status as it sat on the counter. Eventually, the phones were removed.
- Biddle, Sam. "How To Be a Genius: This Is Apple's Secret Employee Training Manual". Gizmodo.com. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
- Lee, Anita. "Apple's Secret Employee Training Manual Revealed". Mashable.com. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
- Lee, Adriana. "Apple Genius Training Manual Leaked, Reveals Manipulation Tactics". TechnoBuffalo.com. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
- "Unearthed: Apple's secret employee manual reveals sales tactics and prohibited words". Macworld Australia. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
- Ugwu, Reggie. "Banned Words And Managed Emotions: Leaked Manual Spills Apple Genius Secrets". Complex.com. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
- Gallo, Carmine. "Apple's Secret Employee Training Manual Reinvents Customer Service in Seven Ways". Forbes. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
- Ward-Bailey, Jeff. "How Apple Geniuses get inside our heads". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
- Apple.com Archived 2014-08-20 at the Wayback Machine., "The Studio"
- Gizmodo.com "iPod Bar Japan: Great service but the cocktails need work" Gizmodo.com
- Apple Retail Store – Retail Pro Lab
- Apple Store West 14th Street