In the wake of Apple tinkering with its retail formula in an effort to raise profits at the expense of Apple’s highly regarded customer service, Jim Darlymple of The Loop wrote a worthwhile entry arguing that Apple’s new VP of Retail – John Browett – better think twice before he attempts to turn Apple’s uber-profitable retail stores into Dixon clones.
What makes Browett’s decision somewhat worrisome is that it was enacted against the advice of several Apple retail veterans, all in the hopes of creating a leaner sales force. And this despite warnings from others inside the company that “reducing personnel ahead of the annual Back-to-School promotion and the September introduction of the iPhone 5 could create a customer service catastrophe.”
Darlymple writes that this is evidence of Browett seeking more to make a name for himself than in doing what’s best for Apple as a company.
It seems to me that Browett is trying to make Apple retail just like every other retail store on the planet. A few employees trying to satisfy an ever growing consumer base. That formula doesn’t work. It may save a few dollars in the short term and Browett may look like a hero on paper, but in reality the whole company would suffer the consequences.
With $100 billion or so in the bank, the last thing Browett needs to worry about is cost cutting measures to save a few pennies here and there. Instead he should be focused on how to best serve the surge of consumers that will take to the stores in the coming months to buy new Apple products.
Apple didn’t get to where it is today – one of the most profitable companies on the planet – by penny pinching. Steve Jobs once said – in regards to high iPod pricing – that sometimes “you get what you pay for.” In other words, the best customer experience isn’t achieved by creating as lean a sales force as possible. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
When people talk about a company, they often talk about its company culture. Indeed, after the resignation and subsequent passing of Steve Jobs, part of the reason many weren’t worried about Apple’s future prospects was that Jobs had imbued a company culture into Apple wherein the user experience reigned supreme and no part of it was compromised.
Browett’s decision to go for profits at the expense of said customer experience might be indicative of a man who may be well-versed in retail operations, simply doesn’t get what Apple is truly all about.
I suppose time will tell whether or this was a one-time snafu or if Apple, perhaps, hired the wrong guy.