Expectations Matter (Part 1 of my visit to Apple)

My Mac is fried (long story).

[if you sent me email in the last two weeks, it’s gone. I hope to have it back soon, but it couldn’t hurt to write again if you’re waiting to hear from me!]

anyway, at noon I headed over to the Mac store in the Palisades Mall north of NYC. My expectations were very low. I had no appointment, figured there’d be a huge line and a not very well trained person.

It turns out I waited one minute. One. The person who helped me, Daniel Cilmi, was terrific. He removed my drive, enabling me to send it out for data recovery. He charged me nothing and promised to have a new drive installed by Wednesday.

I’ll tell this story to 20 people in person and to all of you right now. This is worth WAY more than a superbowl ad, that’s for sure.

Then, pushing my luck, Saturday night I headed out to get the missing "h" key fixed on my other laptop. This time, I even had a reservation. Headed to a different Mac store in a different mall.


The place is swarming with iPodders. There is only one genius there (one other guy flits in and out) and he’s surly. The other staff in the store are no help. The atmosphere in the room is tense and close and the staff is clearly projecting a "two more hours on the shift" vibe.

I didn’t get any help Saturday night… we left an hour after the appointment with no help.

Suddenly, what seemed like a spectacular bonus, an expectation-busting new way of delighting customers has turned into an annoying tax, a fake, a wished-for mirage that didn’t materialize.

All Apple had to do was change my expectations before the second visit. They could underschedule the genius bar, putting fewer people through per hour, but delighting those they helped. They could follow some of the steps in the next posting. They could staff it with happy people instead of surly ones.

Most of all, they could realize this, "Don’t bother engaging with customers unless you are prepared to invest enough to exceed expectations and delight them. It’s better to do nothing at all."