Putting your Apple where your mouth is

Putting your Apple where your mouth is

Want to create spellbound guests, inspired associates and escalating profits?

I?d like to share a great story I heard the other day from the COO of Highgate Hotels. Usually, what makes a story great is content that stirs you on some emotional level or a rookie team coming from behind at the last moment to beat its formidable opponents. This one, however, is about one of the world?s great companies showing us why it?s one of the world?s great companies. If you share the passion that I do about creating spellbound guests and extraordinary experiences, then you will appreciate this.

The story went something like this. The COO?s nephew shattered his iPad while flying with his mom. Both distraught, they walked into the Apple store fully prepared to shell out several hundred dollars for its replacement. For those of you not familiar with the stores, they are a leading-edge business model in terms of service ? they staff generously (luxury), the store buzzes with a cult-like following (lifestyle) and they utilize their technology so you aren?t ?dismissed to customer service? to pay. To top this off, the Apple associate showed compassion for the shattered tablet and replaced the iPad with nary a reach for Mom?s wallet. Hello true empowerment, hello word of mouth, hello world-class service, hello glorious profits.

What can we learn from this? 

  • This story has now probably reached 80,000-plus people.
  • The kind of loyalty we yearn for isn?t about the points we dispense ? any hotel can do that. It will stem from creating a distinctive culture first.  
  • Great cultures are so because leadership is found at EVERY level of the organization and not just in the executive suite. (Although many of my offices were in old linen closets!)
  • Great cultures don?t say, ?Let me get my supervisor.?
  • Great cultures have empowerment in the DNA of their associates. Empowerment in and of itself not born through a culture of compassion and happiness is another ?policy.? 
  • Training alone has diminishing returns over time. 
  • Every interaction is an opportunity for greatness.  
  • Other industries often seek to emulate hotel hospitality, specifically the graciousness and accountability of the concierge desk, and whether you have a concierge desk or not, everyone should be acting as if they did. Check out Holly Stiel?s book ?The Art and Science of the Hotel Concierge.? She shares that Apple built their Genius Bar model based upon the hotel concierge concept ?dispensing advice instead of alcohol.?
Apple could have easily charged for the iPad. They would have maintained their profit and their customer. Therefore, another nuance we can take away is that profit margins are ?complicated? in that they are not just a product of contingency measures and withholds. In fact, great businesses expand exponentially through what appears to be polar opposites: generosity, raising the bar on what true hospitality looks like and feels like and cultivating happiness ? every single interaction, every single time.