Parts of Apple's Genius training manual leaked

Just what does Apple's Genius tech support staff learn before talking to you? A freshly leaked training manual breaks it down.

Apple's Geniuses.
Apple's Geniuses. Apple

One of the key parts of Apple's retail success has been its Genius Bar, its in-house support service that lets Apple product owners bring in their gear to get looked at.

As it's been explained by former executives, the idea for the bar initially befuddled users, though over the years it's become a defining feature, and an increasingly important one as the company's gadgets have moved away from user-replaceable parts.

But just what kind of training is involved to make it behind that bar? Tech chops for sure, but as an internal training document shows, quite a bit of social engineering too.

Gizmodo today posted portions of Apple's Genius Bar training manual, an internal document meant to train new employees in human interaction. In the pages that have been posted, this includes the words and phrases used to describe something as basic as a frozen machine.

Just don't use "frozen," it turns out. That's a no-no, according to a snippet that was posted. Instead, things like "unexpectedly quits," "does not respond," or "stops responding," would be better picks. Another such section provides instructions on appearing to feel empathy with someone who comes into the store with a broken -- err nonresponsive -- gadget, using language that will make the Genius sound more sincere.

To be sure, there's seemingly nothing controversial in the book, according to Gizmodo's account of the pages that go unseen. The blog only playfully deems it as something that "could easily serve as the Humanity 101 textbook for a robot university."

The leaked details, which Gizmodo says come from the latest version of the handbook, follow a story the outlet ran earlier this month about "the most corrupt Apple Store in America." That story featured former Apple retail employees discussing things like exploiting loopholes to get free iPhones, managers trading hardware for cosmetic surgery, and Geniuses intentionally damaging devices from problematic customers. That store was later outed as a Texas retail location by The Dallas Morning News.

The leak comes amid intensified focus on Apple's retail operations, which are now run by Apple Senior Vice President John Browett. Browett -- previously the chief executive at U.K. electronics retailer Dixons -- attempted to rejigger the staffing at some of Apple's retail stores earlier this year, resulting in widespread rumors of cut hours and even layoffs. Apple responded earlier this month by saying it was trying out a new staffing formula and that it had since reverted to the previous system. Nonetheless, a new report suggests there are still some budget cuts in place at the company's retail stores, and that things like in-store workshops and employee performance metrics have been tweaked considerably.

About the author

Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.

 

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