How Apple Trains Its 'Geniuses' to Play You

A look inside a profoundly weird and ambitious training manual
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 28, 2012 12:56 PM CDT
Updated Sep 1, 2012 1:24 PM CDT

(Newser) – Being an Apple Store "genius" takes more than technical know-how—it takes a company-provided crash course in psychology. Over at Gizmodo, Sam Biddle got hold of the Genius Training Student Workbook, a stunning volume full of stringent rules on how to interact with customers and each other, up to and including which words to use and avoid. "The manual could easily serve as the Humanity 101 textbook for a robot university," Biddle quips. Among the advice inside:

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  • Geniuses are supposed to "educate gracefully," "take ownership empathetically," and "recommend persuasively." Customers are supposed to feel empowered, even as the genius pulls their strings.
  • Apple's five-step selling procedure: Approach, Probe, Present, Listen, End (APPLE, get it?). Basically, you're to Approach the customer, Probe them about their needs, Present options, Listen to their response, then get them to buy the product in the End—and think it was their idea.
  • When customers have concerns, the manual advocates the "Three Fs: Feel, Felt, and Found." Example: "Customer: I want an iPad, but I need a mouse." Genius: "I know how you feel. I'm a mouse fan and felt as if I'd never get used to it. But I found it becomes very easy with practice."
  • The book includes a complete rundown of body language and non-verbal clues to help identify what customers are feeling.
  • Some words are expressly forbidden. Apple products don't freeze or crash, they "stop responding."
  • Employees are encouraged to give each other "fearless feedback," complete with robotic suggested language on how to phrase your complaints. Actual employees, however, tell Biddle they basically never do this.
Click for Biddle's full rundown. (Read more Apple stories.)

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