Apple’s extraordinary customer service is well documented. And while you might think that success is due to ninja “Geniuses” that can fix anything – that’s only part of the story.
The real secret to Apple’s customer service is their use of “level scheduling.” Based on a lean-manufacturing concept, level scheduling lets businesses spread demand out evenly across available supply.
How does this concept apply to customer service? The insider secret is that Apple schedules customer service appointments. They don’t allow anyone to walk up to the Genius Bar. That’s right – Apple doesn’t allow walk-ins. Anyone that needs customer support must schedule a specific time to meet with an Apple expert.
Why does level scheduling matter?
For customers, scheduling an appointment immediately sets the expectation for when they will receive customer service. Apple customers know they’ll receive explicit one-on-one time with a Genius at a specific time. There’s no ambiguity. Have you ever heard an Apple customer complain about how long they waited on hold to speak with someone? Of course not. No Apple customer waits. Their appointments are scheduled.
What’s the big deal?
Businesses that take on-demand support requests face unpredictable demand, Because of this, they will face bottlenecks and delays when there are more support requests than available customer-service agents can fulfill.
It’s like traffic. When an onslaught of cars hit the road during rush-hour, you have traffic jams. Imagine if you each driver was assigned a specific time they could drive in the morning. Instead of sitting in traffic, you’d only leave at a specific time when you could cruise into work. There wouldn’t be any traffic jams.
For Apple, the benefit of scheduling is that all support requests can be scheduled whenever supply (in this case Geniuses) is available. It also means Apple doesn’t face unpredictable staffing needs, as they’ll never face a surge of support requests that can’t be scheduled out across it’s supply of available workers. It also means that you, the customer, are able to divert your focus to other tasks until your scheduled support window arrives.
Level scheduling doesn’t just apply to companies like Apple.
There are many, many areas within any business where you can use scheduling.
- Do you have “contact request” forms on your website? These are unpredictable. You don’t know if 2 people or 30 people will submit a contact request on a given day. Instead, think about letting these people schedule 15-minute calls with your sales team. Instead of a potential customer sitting in the dark and unsure of when they will receive a call back from your sales team, scheduling ensures your potential customers know when to expect to speak with someone. To accomplish this, you can easily use tools like ScheduleOnce and Calendly.
- Do you have a support system that provides phone support? Instead of customers submitting support requests and having to wait on a call back from your support team, implement scheduling. This way, your customers can schedule calls with your support team to resolve their issues. This keeps your support team from being overwhelmed with tickets from customers expecting an immediate response. And, it gives your customer peace of mind that they’ll be able to resolve their issue at a specific time.
Apple’s legendary customer support uses “level scheduling” to schedule customer requests when Genius support reps are available. This is the reason you’ve never had to wait for support at an Apple store.
Prospects and customers that submit a contact request, but don’t get to speak with someone immediately, often end up confused and frustrated. Scheduling is a simple way to give customers a clear answer on when their request will be resolved, and it will help your business spread demand out for when your team can handle it.