Apple Store Specialists Now Online


Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) has launched a new online service that allows potential iPhone or iPad customers to ask questions of an Apple Store specialist. "You can talk directly to a trained Specialist over the phone, start a live online chat and even watch your Specialist's screen during a personalised guided tour," said Apple.

If that person does decide to make a purchase, the online specialist then sets up the product, the same as an in-store salesperson would do. The catch? So far, the service is only available to customers in the Brazil, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Here's hoping the online "geniuses" are happier on the job than the members of the Apple's retail sales staff we discussed yesterday. John Browett, senior vice-president for retail made changes to employee hours and staffing levels, cutting service levels and chopping hours for some employees. But after a few weeks, Apple declared, "We messed up," and made some changes to appease disgruntled employees. But the hurt feelings remain.

Founder Steve Jobs apparently believed that the primary goal of the Apple stores was to provide a unique experience for visitors and customers. New CEO Tim Cook wanted more attention paid to both the top and bottom lines, and hence the change.

The new online service seems to bring a bit of the Jobs philosophy to Apple's online shopping experience, where it had been lacking. But online specialists may want to remember that Jobs is no longer in charge.

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, PC Companies, Retail Tagged: AAPL, featured