Revealed: 4 secrets from Apple's Genius training manual

How does Apple's in-store support team offer such unparalleled customer service? Regimented training and mind-reading tactics, for starters

Apple employees help a young customer in Portland, Ore.: To become a "Genius," employees must go through a mandatory 14-day course.
(Image credit: CC BY: Wesley Fryer)

Think you have what it takes to stand behind Apple's Genius Bar and deal with unwieldy customers and their busted gadgets? "Tech chops" are a must, says Josh Lowensoh at CNET, "but, as an internal training document shows, quite a bit of social engineering" also goes in to schooling an Apple Genius. Tech blog Gizmodo has gotten its hands on Apple's official Genius Bar training manual, a rigorous bible that extensively covers "psychological mastery, banned words, [and] role-playing," says Gizmodo's Sam Biddle. Here, four key revelations:

1. Apple Geniuses must complete two weeks of courses

Before a potential Genius can "don the blue shirt and go to work," he or she will have to "complete a rigorously regimented, intricately scheduled training program," says Gizmodo's Biddle. The 14-day course takes Apple neophytes through concepts like "Using Diagnostic Services," "Component Isolation," and "The Power of Empathy." Plenty of company training manuals are "rife with cheesy corporate philosophy," says Kimber Streams at The Verge, but "Apple's Genius Training regime goes into incredibly granular detail."

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2. They can't say certain words

Geniuses must be intensely aware of their vocabulary at all times, and Apple's legal counsel recommends avoiding certain words when helping a frustrated customer. The word "freeze" is a no-no, it turns out, says CNET's Josh Lowensoh. Instead, the guidebook insists on the following alternatives: "Unexpectedly quits," "does not respond, or "stops responding." Also banned: "Hot" ("warm" is preferred), "bug" or "problem" ("condition," "issue," or "situation" are better), and "eliminate" (instead, you "reduce" a problem).

3. Employees must remember they're "Selling Gadget Joy"

The company has a simple overarching philosophy for any Genius in training, says Chris Burns at Slashgear: "A.P.P.L.E.," or Approach, Probe, Present, Listen, End. Employees are told to bear in mind that everyone in the store is selling at all times. "That's the Apple way for a Genius," whose end-goal is for customers to leave happy and "satisfied enough to buy products in the future."

4. Nonverbal cues are critical

Every genius has to "empathize with whoever they're conversing with," says Slashgear's Burns. A key part of that strategy is to interpret nonverbal cues. "Drumming on [a] table" or "head in hand" are obvious signifiers of customer boredom. On the other hand, an "unbuttoned coat" or "head tilt" shows that the customer is willing to cooperate. Being an Apple Genius requires more than a way with words, says Reggie Ugwu at Complex. You'll also have to "read [customers'] emotional cues like a good therapist or boyfriend."

Sources: Gizmodo, CNET, The Verge, Slashgear, Complex

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