There are over 85 million iPhone users in the United States, and while that’s a figure Apple will doubtlessly be pleased with, the company is starting to become a victim of its own success. When it comes to its famous stores and the ‘Geniuses’ that work there, Cupertino is struggling to cope with the ever-increasing number of customers.
Apple’s Genius Bar customer support system is straining under the weight of store visitors and performance expectations, reports Business Insider, with the incredibly busy Christmas season proving to be one of the most difficult times of the year for staff.
"The customer service model is about ready to pop," said one worker. "It's turning into a reality that the system Apple has in place is not able to keep up with the volume of people and demand.”
Apple retail employees are facing increased pressure as they try to get customers “in and out as fast as possible” and the number of people they help each day is tracked. The fact some people who purchased their handsets through wireless carriers are using Apple Stores to fix their iPhones is exacerbating the situation.
But Apple is trying to reduce the stress on its staff through a new store design, which includes larger spaces, balconies, and leather seating balls. More room and waiting areas for customers will help, but one of the biggest improvements came via the introduction of the Technical Expert role last year. This person can perform iPhone repairs and replacements and is better placed to deal with customers who walk in without appointments.
The Genius Bar itself is also being reimagined as the Genius Grove, which removes the traditional help desk and lets customers “get support working side-by-side with Geniuses under the comfortable canopy of local trees in the heart of [a] store.”
As more people buy their smartphones online, Apple needs to keep offering something extra if it wants to entice consumers into their retail outlets. Free photography lessons may be compelling, but the hope that their iPhone problem will be quickly fixed is the reason behind many owners' visits. Just how much the revamp will ease the pressure remains to be seen, but at least the company has acknowledged that something needed to be done.