Toy Apple Genius Bar

11 tips for implementing your own Genius Bar

In a previous article I discussed whether or not an Apple style ‘Genius Bar’ was something IT departments should be considering.

Several clients of ours have Genius Bars set-up in a visible and central location, and tell us that they are very popular with their customers. Some universities have had IT outposts in their libraries for years. More of IT’s customers are using laptops, tablets and smartphones than desktops these days, enabling them to bring the device to IT rather than waiting for IT to come to them. These factors suggest that now may well be the time for IT departments to at least consider implementing a Genius Bar.

If you decide it is for you though, getting it right takes more than just reserving a spot and sending someone from the Service Desk to sit there. Here are 11 tips to help you get off on the right foot.

The list is not intended to be exhaustive, but should provide some prompts to get you thinking:

  1. Identify which types of incidents and requests can actually be handled more efficiently by Service Desk staff in person. You should specifically promote the Genius Bar as the place to go for these types of incidents and requests.
  2. Communicate. Posters, signs at the Genius Bar itself, emails, text messages, existing IT newsletters and any other mechanisms that work for your organisation should be used to encourage customers to take the right things to the Genius Bar. If the expectation is that these guys can fix everything, dissatisfaction may well follow, and if they spend all their time logging and passing on tickets that the telephone Service Desk staff could have handled at least as well, then the potential efficiency of the Genius Bar will not be realised and the customer satisfaction benefits watered down.
  3. Start with a pilot, and make sure your customers realise it is a pilot. This sets the expectation that the service may change quite quickly as you learn what works well and not so well.
  4. During the pilot period (or even ongoing) you could consider split testing, in other words trying a different range of services, different marketing, different hours of service, and any other ideas you’d like to test, and analysing the impact on customer satisfaction and productivity. You could do this over a few different weeks at the same Genius Bar (having made it clear that this is a pilot, and that you’ll be experimenting with it), or in parallel with two separate Genius Bars.
  5. Make sure that any sites you are considering for a Genius Bar have enough customers that use mobile devices.
  6. Your ITSM toolset should be updated so that ‘Genius Bar’ can be tracked as a contact method along with telephone, web customer portal, email etc. and your reporting updated so you can see how many incidents and requests are being logged and resolved through that channel. This helps you to keep track of the uptake and efficiency of the Genius Bar vs. the standard Service Desk.
  7. If you run Transactional Customer Surveys (sent on resolution of incidents and requests) you may be able to use them to help measure satisfaction with the new Genius Bar and receive feedback on strengths and improvement areas. See if you can isolate scores and feedback about this channel from others, and then analyse and compare the results.
  8. Service Desk staff working at the Genius Bar should be encouraged to pick-up and progress Service Desk emails or web-logged tickets during quiet times, just as their telephone based colleagues do. Individual KPI reporting should track this also.
  9. Consider reserving the rotations onto the Genius Bars to more senior Service Desk staff only. Not only do you want to ensure a positive customer experience but you can also use this to provide progress and development opportunities for staff without them having to actually move on from the Service Desk.
  10. 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 and make informed decisions as to how the service needs to evolve.
  11. Last but not least, work out how you’ll handle potential resentment from sites that don’t get a Genius Bar. After all, a lot of sites won’t be big enough or dependent enough on mobile devices to justify their own Genius Bar. Communicate why they are not getting one, emphasise the channels that are available, and provide an avenue for feedback if they are unhappy. Perhaps also offer a staffed Genius Bar half a day or a day a week, or have IT staff walk around and offer help any time they are out on site in business hours. Either of these two approaches could be advertised in advance to increase uptake.

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