Last month, an American blogger called BirdAbroad uncovered a fake Apple store in Kunming, China and made headlines worldwide.
As it turns out, researchers have found several other fake Apple stores elsewhere in China. "The whole episode became a case study of the difficulty of protecting trademarks and other intellectual property in that country," wrote Rob Markey of the Harvard Business Review (Aug. 9).
Try as they might, Markey adds, there's one thing about an Apple store that counterfeit retailers won't be able to duplicate: an in-store experience that is the envy of most other retailers.
"Apple Retail -- the real organization -- has invested heavily in creating great experiences for all its customers. New employees get three weeks of training before they fly solo with a customer," he writes.
"Frequent surveys, asking customers how likely they would be to recommend a store to a friend or colleague, provide store managers with a steady stream of data and comments on the store's performance. Store managers call every unhappy customer to determine what went wrong and how they can make it right."
Apple collects this customer feedback data, based on a zero-to-10 scale of "likely to recommend," to come up with a Net Promoter Score (NPS). A rating of 9 or 10 (very likely to recommend) marks the customer as a promoter; 7 or 8 is neutral; 0 to 6 is a detractor.
The NPS is the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors.
At iQmetrix, we also track our NPS. As a company, we are committed to creating great experiences for our clients, for their staff, as well as for customers visiting their stores.
We have a Client Experience Program (CXP) in which we regularly survey our clients about their experiences with our product quality and our customer service. The feedback we receive is instrumental in improving our software -- over the years, we've implemented hundreds of new features based on suggestions from our clients. Of course, the same is true in how we shape our customer service practices.
We work hard to keep our NPS up, which gives us an idea of where we are in our mission to create great experiences for our customers. Sorta like Apple.
"Though you might expect Apple's products or store designs to be the primary source of enthusiasm," Markey writes, "by far the most common reason promoters give for their happiness is the way store employees treat them."