Apple's 'genius' manual for customer service

An employee carries boxes containing Apple's new iPad at Apple's flagship store on Fifth Avenue, in New York.

Kai Ryssdal: Remember that scene in the "Wizard of Oz," where the guy says, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain?"

There was a little bit of that with Apple today. The website Gizmodo got its hands on a copy of the training manual for Apple's Genius Bar employees, the ones in the blue shirts who help when your Apple device has a crash, or a freeze. Except -- they'd never use those words, as Marketplace's Eve Troeh reports.


Eve Troeh: Apple fans obsess over even the color of a box, says technology writer Chris Null. So pages and pages of training secrets? That's a big find.

Chris Null: Absolutely there's going to be delight in ripping back the veil of how the company works.

But no mystic hand of Steve Jobs apparent here. The Genius Bar training manual is mostly regular old corporate speak.

I'll play the customer: This Mac is just too expensive!

"Genius": I can see how you'd feel this way. I felt the price was a little high. But I've found it's a real value.

Sheryl Harris: Feel, felt, found. So that's like a classic sales technique.

Sheryl Harris covers consumer issues for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Harris: I feel the same way you do. I felt that way a lot before. But now I've found all my fears, they've been resolved.

Training manuals usually come to light only when there's a lawsuit, over something like sales tactics. She says this is merely curiosity. It's fun to think of all those smart, techy people sounding like, well, robots.

Here's a sample conversation from the manual called, "Fearless Feedback."

"Genius": Hi, fellow genius. I overheard your conversation with your customer during the last interaction, and I have some feedback if you have a moment. Is this a good time?

Steven Harris: Wow. I've never heard a conversation like that. Exactly like that.

Steven Harris does tech support here at Marketplace. He's worked at the Genius Bar. Interactions there were pretty scripted, he says. Apple had company-specific language for everything, down to saying "portable computer" instead of "laptop."

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.

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