10 things to consider when setting up a Genius Bar

Do you know how far back Apple’s Genius Bar goes? 5 years? 10? Nope. Longer. Apple opened their first Genius Bar in 2001 in their SoHo store in New York.  In-house IT departments have been slow to follow their lead, but its happening, slowly but surely.

Every one of our clients that has introduced their own version of the Genius Bar has found them a big hit with their customers. Customers say they like it because:

  • They feel they can get something fixed right away.
  • They get to deal with a real person rather than just a voice on the phone.
  • They’re able to show the problem rather than having to describe it.
  • They avoid having to be talked through tricky troubleshooting steps.

For IT, it can often be quicker to solve a problem in person rather than taking a call, trying to do a remote fix, and then, as is often the case, needing to do a deskside visit anyway.

So, if you’re serious about providing your customers with a great experience, you’ve got some space and a little bit of budget, read on for ten ways to help your genius bar get off to a great start:

  1. Identify the types of incidents and requests that can be handled more efficiently in person, via the genius bar. Then promote the genius bar as the place to go for these types of incidents and requests.
  2. Make sure that any sites you are considering for a genius bar have enough customers that use mobile devices. Some of your sites may be too small to justify one, or staff there may only have desktops.
  3. Work out how you’ll mitigate any disappointment from sites that don’t get a genius bar. Explain why they are not getting one, emphasise the other channels that are available, and provide an avenue for feedback if they are unhappy. Consider offering a staffed genius bar half a day or a day a week, or have IT staff do scheduled or ad-hoc walk arounds offering to provide deskside assistance (wearing a t-shirt inviting customers to ask for tech help can work really well).
  4. Promote your genius bar using as many channels as you can. There’s nothing worse than a genius bar with tumbleweed blowing past it! Don’t forget to explain what sort of help the genius bar is best for.
  5. Your ITSM toolset should be updated so that ‘genius bar’ can be tracked as a contact method along with telephone, portal, email etc. Update your reporting so you can monitor the uptake of the genius bar. Make sure your genius bar staff are logging tickets just like you would for any other channel (to assist with problem management, knowledge management, workload analysis).
  6. Start with a pilot, and make sure your customers realise it’s a pilot. This sets the expectation that the service may change quite quickly as you learn what works well and not so well. The pilot period is a great time to try different approaches, e.g. different hours of service, different scope of service, different staffing arrangements.
  7. During quiet periods, staff working at the genius bar should work on Service Desk emails or web-logged tickets, just as their telephone-based colleagues do.
  8. Consider reserving the rotations onto the genius bar for more senior Service Desk staff only. This will help ensure customers have a positive experience and provides development opportunities for these staff.
  9. Make sure that Service Desk leaders responsible for the genius bar take the time to go and visit it, both at peak times and off-peak so that they can make first hand observations about how it is performing.
  10. Use your transactional customer satisfaction surveys (sent on resolution of incidents and requests) to measure satisfaction with the new genius bar and receive feedback that will help you continual improve the service you provide via this channel.

If you’re considering introducing a Genius Bar now’s the time. Or if you want to be more bleeding edge, you might want to drop the Bar and go with a Genius Grove (I kid you not!).


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