I had a recent experience with Apple’s Genius Bar. My son was having problems with his computer and insisted we go. I made the appointment online and got a confirmation email right away (a very good start).
In the few days between making the appointment and actually going, I constantly referred to the upcoming meeting as our ‘date at the nerd bar’. Actually, I was looking forward to the experience – my son was genuinely excited about having his machine looked at and happy to be going with me (and vice-versa), and I was interested in what was going to happen.
I will start with the conclusion: the “Genius” of the Genius Bar is not the staff – though they are very knowledgeable. The genius is that there is a Genius Bar at all. It is a free service (for Apple computer owners), and it is staffed by people who listen, respond, and then listen some more.
Technically they are doing after-market service, but what they really did at our ‘nerd date’ was to prepare my son and me for our next electronics purchase. The service was excellent, the staffer solved the problem and answered every single one of my (very chatty) son’s questions.
So what “genius” service can the credit and accounting department can offer to internal staff? That is hard, but I could (and did) take some immediate action…
- I decided to get back into the habit of reading every sales rep’s weekly report (moderately painful to read), and responding when it was appropriate
- I remind my staff that we want to make interactions with credit and accounting a painless experience for them, so they not only want to call back, but let their colleagues know “hey, it isn’t so bad talking to accounting”
So while there is no genius bar, better customer service is possible by just listening, then responding in a timely, informative and friendly manner.
As a side benefit, the reach of the credit and accounting folks is stretched a bit, allowing them to grow in social ability, an area that does not always come as second nature to them. People like being liked, and become more positive as a result, and that starts a circular pattern that grows on itself.
Conclusion: Frank Burns’ (of MASH) was right: “It’s nice to be nice to the nice!”