Why Apple is the best retailer in America – March 19, 2007

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2007/03/19/8402321/index.htm?postversion=2007030809

I make no bones about my allegiance to Apple – beloved computing parent and – until recently – my long-time employer. I admire companies who do things right, which is why Apple’s always tops on my brand-loyalty list. I honestly believe the company is out for my best interests, at least in terms of using its products. Cynical reactions are sure to follow this statement, but the cynicism probably stems from the fact that there are very few corporations who think this way. One can only hope more will learn from Apple’s example.

“When we launched retail, I got this group together, people from a variety of walks of life,” says Johnson. “As an icebreaker, we said, ‘Tell us about the best service experience you’ve ever had.'” Of the 18 people, 16 said it was in a hotel. This was unexpected. But of course: The concierge desk at a hotel isn’t selling anything; it’s there to help. “We said, ‘Well, how do we create a store that has the friendliness of a Four Seasons Hotel?'” The answer: “Let’s put a bar in our stores. But instead of dispensing alcohol, we dispense advice.”

Johnson is telling the story as he walks the floor of Apple’s San Francisco store, a perfect stainless-steel box punctuated by a massive skylight, which is throwing sun on a thirtysomething couple getting a tutorial at the Genius Bar. “See that?” says Johnson. “Look at their eyes. They’re learning. There’s an intense moment – like when you see a kid in school going ‘Aha!'”

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