iPhone Frenzy

Merely a few hours ago from this writing, Apple announced its newest smartphone model, the iPhone 6S. Since its inception into the market, Apple’s iPhone line has become so popular and omnipresent that this annual event has become something that Apple’s most loyal fans and customers now mark on their calendar. September has become known in the tech community as the month that Apple has its “event” where it not just only announces its new flagship smartphone model (which is now “the” phone to own for the next 12 months) but also unveils its new product additions as well, such as its iPad or Apple TV devices. So with the tremendous frenzy that follows this highly-publicized announcement from the tech giant, what does this mean for the Apple Store employees?
It is these blue-shirted, front-line soldiers (whom Apple calls its “Geniuses”) who must deal with the end-users who are lining up around the block first-hand. One wouldn’t be wrong to assume that the day a new flagship model officially goes on sale, the store becomes a dreaded environment for the Geniuses; the store’s entire square-footage is occupied to its maximum, barely being able to hear customers over the noise of hundreds more, and the inability to get assistance from co-workers due to the difficulty of wading through the horde (and because that other Genius is likely busy helping another customer) are just a few of the problems. This isn’t a problem unique to just Apple; most major retail stores with a passionate following will experience this mania of a customer horde piling in with every new product launch. Nike’s Air Jordan brand is a prime example of this, with hopeful buyers literally camping outside shopping malls and Nike stores the night or even days in advance of a new model release (similar to the image above, taken outside of an Apple store a few days before the iPhone 5 launch).
WNYC, New York’s most listened-to public radio station, conducted interviews with a few former Apple Store employees to get an inside-look on what the iPhone frenzy is like from the perspective of the Genius. As one employee stated, “it was an exercise in empathy. There was a little bit of psychology to it. I found myself counseling or consoling people twice my age.” Many of the other interviewees seemed to be in accordance with the psychological aspect of it. These “specialists” are not hired for being up-to-date with their technical knowledge, but rather for their ability to be a human being and empathize and connect with people. As people crowd the store after 12+ hours of waiting, hoping to get their hands on not just the phone but also their desired color and storage capacity, not everyone is going to get exactly what they waited for. So after the long hours of waiting for the doors to open, when people are increasingly getting tired and frustrated, it is natural that some of the customers are going to get upset or even angry at the employees for not being able to be one of the “cool” first people to get their hands on a new iPhone. Some customers may make the choice to wait a few more weeks before their desired model is available, while others may end up having to pay more for a model they didn’t want simply to be one of the first. This is where emphatic employees are needed most, to console the dissatisfied customer who got something that wasn’t 100% what he or she wanted.

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