I left the house tonight with three primary goals:
1) Go to the Apple store and ask a couple simple questions
2) Go to the Verizon store and ask a couple simple questions
3) Go to Chipotle and get a steak bowl with hot salsa
Store #1 – Apple
6:28pm – I arrived at Apple. The store was busy. I was greeted immediately by a nice woman holding a clipboard, who referred me to another nice gentleman who graciously and patiently answered all of my questions. I was satisfied and walking out of the Apple store by 6:36, a total of 8 minutes later.
Ratio of ‘active’ Apple employees to ‘active’ Apple customers – about 1:2. There were Apple shirts everywhere.
Store #2 – Verizon
6:50pm – I arrived at Verizon, already dreading the experience. My Dad is moving to Verizon and I am helping him research which basic Verizon handset would serve him best and wanted to ask a knowledgeable salesperson. Me, I’m happy with my iPhone and not familiar with Verizon’s lower end, basic handsets.
The store was not very busy. I was again greeted immediately by a nice young woman holding a clipboard. That’s where any similarities to the Apple store ended. After being notified that their “systems were down”. This meant the touch screen that you use to put your name in the queue wasn’t working, which is why “Sarah” was holding a clipboard. She took my name and I browsed the phones on my own for a good 15 minutes. The one salesperson on the floor was helping one customer for this whole time and the other 3 Verizon employees were behind the counter, ringing up apparently very complicated transactions. After another 10 minutes, I asked Sarah where I was on the list and was informed the same three people were still ahead of me. At this rate, it would be well into Obama’s first term before anyone could answer a few simple questions about Verizon’s basic handsets.
After another 10 minutes, I asked Sarah again. Her reply came out the same as if I had pulled a string in her back, “You see…our systems are down.” I understand that, Sarah! THAT’S WHY YOU’RE HOLDING THE CLIPBOARD!!! IT IS NOT WHY THERE ARE NO SALES PEOPLE TO HELP ME.
Ratio of ‘active’ Verizon employees to Verizon customers – about 1:12. Other than “clipboard Sarah”, one sales guy on the floor and three employees behind the counter.
7:30 – I told Sarah she could take my name off the list and left Verizon, very frustrated (yet again).
Store #3 – Chipotle
7:45 – I walk into my local Chipotle and order my favorite, the steak burrito bowl with hot salsa and guacamole. There were two people ahead of me in line but I almost never stopped walking until I had paid for my bowl. Three people assembled my bowl. One bagged it to go. One rang me up. Total time in line – about 46 seconds.
Ratio of ‘active’ Chipotle employees to Chipotle customers – about 5:1 for each person who passes through the line. I couldn’t imagine a more efficient process.
My experience has been very similar at many Apple stores, Verizon stores and Chipotle’s.
As I sat and enjoyed my burrito, I remembered that my experience had been the same in the past at not only these stores but other Apple, Verizon and Chipotle locations.
How can some companies consistently just “get it” and others don’t?
If Verizon didn’t have such a good wireless network, I wonder if they would be bankrupt?