Saturday, February 21, 2009

Apple of my eye

Regular readers of this blog definitely know two things about me: I'm a stickler when it comes to customer service and I really, really do not adapt well to change. Those two things have successfully kept me from buying a desperately needed new computer for writing for over a year now. Every time I walked into a store, I was slammed by the reality that once I bought something new I'd actually have to learn how to use it. Add in the sales clerks who didn't seem capable of speaking plain "computer for dummies," and I was right back out the door.

However, last weekend both my email computer and my work computer -- don't even ask --started doing enough weird stuff that I decided I really needed to bite the bullet and go shopping. And since I already more or less knew what was out there in the Windows world, I decided to try an Apple Store for comparison. Oh, my!!!! To the astonishment of the brave friend who went with me, I actually left with a new system...and in a cheerful frame of mind...all in about an hour.

Now keep in mind that I haven't actually turned the computer on yet. I could be screaming my head off by this time next week, but I have survived the intimidation and annoyance phase of the process thanks to a store that actually knows how to treat its customers. Hallelujah!

From the moment I walked into the spacious, bright Apple Store at Aventura Mall in Miami, I knew I was in a new computer world. Greeted by what they referred to as a concierge, I was quickly introduced to a sales person who wanted to know exactly what I needed, then walked me through the process of using an Apple to accomplish that. Danny -- a saint in my book -- talked in plain English and never once implied that I wasn't the brightest bulb on the planet because I didn't have a clue about much of anything technical. Sure, he showed me applications I'll never in a million years need or use, but they were very cool. And for a minute there I honestly thought I could figure out how to use them.

He also pointed out their Genius Desk, which can problem-solve on-site. He told me the Apple tech consultants on the phone are here in the U.S. Both were very reassuring things for someone like me who may need a lot of help when I actually turn this new computer on.

And once I'd made my laptop selection, added in the wireless mouse and keyboard, one of the store managers -- Liz -- brought out the computer, introduced herself and told me to please call if there was anything at all I needed.

The entire experience was amazing, and a bit surreal compared to prior experiences in other stores. As a testament to the fact that this kind of customer service works, the store was packed on a weekday afternoon despite the state of the economy.

Sometime in the next week or so I will actually turn on the computer and install the word processing program and attempt to write something. I have high hopes. But even if something goes awry and I can't figure out what I'm doing, not only do I have other staunch Apple converts among my friends, but Apple geniuses besides! Oh happy day!

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