Apple Prepping Genius Bar Changes: Focus on Shorter Wait Times, Multitasking, Overnight Repairs


MacRumors has learned that Apple is preparing an overhaul of the functionality of its Genius Bar, with the company positioning the changes as a "giant leap forward" for the Family Room concept that has come to embrace both the Genius Bar itself and roving specialists able to help customers with their mobile device support needs at locations throughout Apple's retail stores.

According to Apple, the changes are designed to increase customer access and satisfaction in the Family Room by employing something of an "all hands on deck" approach to ensure quick response to customer demand. Among the tactics being employed:

- Active queue management: Retail stores will monitor customer demand for the Genius Bar from both reservations and walk-ins, reassigning qualified employees from other areas of the store as needed to open up new queues to ensure that staffing meets demand. Apple's goal is for all walk-in Genius Bar customers to be served within 30 minutes while obviously still meeting commitments for customers who have made reservations.

- Multitasking: Genius Bar technicians are being asked to serve multiple support customers at one time, using downtime during appointments such as during reboots or while diagnostic tests are running to assist another customer. Support staff are encouraged to use reservation notes left by customers in the Concierge system to help match customers with similar issues or to slip in a customer expected to need only a quick fix while a more complicated diagnosis is underway.

- Overnight repairs: Retail stores are expected to place a renewed focus on completing overnight repairs, but somewhat at the expense of "While You Wait" repairs. While Genius Bar technicians will still be able to offer "While You Wait" repairs to customers if support demand is low, the focus will be on moving repairs to night time shifts where Geniuses can focus on the tasks at hand and have customers' machines ready for pick-up first thing the following morning. Retail stores will gauge the number of repairs to be completed on a given day and schedule Geniuses to stay after store closing (up until a limit of midnight) to conduct repairs on machines brought in that day. Any repairs unable to be completed with the scheduled time and staffing after closing will be finished up by Geniuses arriving before store opening the following morning.

When it comes to mobile devices, Apple is broadening its approach of providing mobile support to customers, utilizing iPod touch devices loaded with Apple's MobileGenius software to help provide support anywhere in the store. The strategy comes with dual benefits: Reducing clutter at the Genius Bar allows for focus on Mac support there and conducting mobile device support on the sales floor offers retail store staff an opportunity to show off Apple's other products and hopefully generate additional sales.

While Apple is pitching the changes as a significant enhancement to support services in its retail stores, others are not so sure. One Apple retail store employee familiar with the changes noted that the company is trying to "do more with less", pulling in less-qualified Creatives and offering less personal attention through multitasking in order to deal with customer demand rather than hiring new staff. The employee also expressed concern about low stocks of parts available at retail stores and how without a change in how parts are allocated and delivered many repairs will not be able to be completed overnight as planned.

Regardless of how the changes play out, Apple clearly feels that it is simply unable to maintain the status quo in its retail stores by merely adding staff. As Apple's retail stores, many of which are relatively small, continue to see tremendous customer growth, the company is looking for ways to process customers more efficiently with regard to both timing and floor space within the store.

On a possibly related note, we and others have separately heard that a teaser has gone out on Apple's internal Retail News Network (RNN) for its retail store employees noting that something "big" is coming. While we can't definitively say that the teaser is referencing the Family Room changes we've learned about, RNN is frequently used to share information about changes in retail store operational policies and so it seems possible that these two items may be related.

Top Stories

Leaker Shares Details on 'iPhone 13' Camera [Updated]

Wednesday May 27, 2020 4:27 pm PDT by
The next-generation iPhone 12 lineup coming in fall 2020 isn't out yet, but Fudge (@choco_bit), a leaker who sometimes shares information on upcoming Apple devices, today offered up details on what Apple has in store for the 2021 iPhone 13's camera setup. A simple design drawing depicts a device with a four camera array, which Fudge claims will have the following features: 64-megapixel...

Apple Begins Selling Refurbished iPhone XR Models

Thursday May 28, 2020 9:50 pm PDT by
Apple today began selling certified refurbished iPhone XR models in select colors and capacities for the first time in the United States. Refurbished iPhone XR models are priced at a roughly 16 percent discount compared to current pricing on brand-new units, knocking $100–120 off of the regular price. In addition to the 64GB and 128GB capacities matching current brand-new iPhone XR models, ...

Powerbeats Pro Debut in Four New Colors: Spring Yellow, Cloud Pink, Lava Red, and Glacier Blue

Friday May 29, 2020 10:00 am PDT by
Following a couple of leaks in recent weeks, Beats today is officially announcing four new colors for its Powerbeats Pro wireless earphones: Spring Yellow, Cloud Pink, Lava Red, and Glacier Blue. The new earphones will go on sale June 9 and sell for the same $249.95 price as the existing color options. Aside from the colors, the new Powerbeats Pro models are otherwise identical to the...

Apple Making It Harder to Avoid Nagging macOS Update Notifications

Thursday May 28, 2020 8:13 am PDT by
With the release of macOS Catalina 10.15.5 and related security updates for macOS Mojave and High Sierra earlier this week, Apple is making it more difficult for users to ignore available software updates and remain on their current operating system versions. Included in the release notes for macOS Catalina 10.15.5 is the following:- Major new releases of macOS are no longer hidden when...

8 Mac Tips and Tricks You Might Not Know

Friday May 29, 2020 12:36 pm PDT by
There are tons of hidden features and shortcuts for Macs that Apple has built into macOS over the years, ranging from shortcuts to keyboard commands to other little hacks to make Mac usage just a bit simpler. In our latest YouTube video, we highlighted several of these tips and tricks, and some of them might just be new to you. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Tr...

Apple Releases macOS Catalina 10.15.5 With Battery Health Management Features, Fix for Finder Freezing

Tuesday May 26, 2020 1:59 pm PDT by
Apple today released macOS Catalina 10.15.5, the fifth update to the macOS Catalina operating system that was released in October 2019. macOS Catalina 10.15.5 comes two months after the launch of macOS Catalina 10.15.4, which introduced Screen Time Communication Limits. macOS Catalina 10.15.5 is a free update that can be downloaded from the Mac App Store using the Update feature in the...

Top Stories: macOS 10.15.5, New Powerbeats Pro Colors, iPhone 12 and 13 Rumors, and More

Saturday May 30, 2020 6:00 am PDT by
This week saw an interesting mix of news and rumors on the Apple front, led by the release of macOS 10.15.5, which brings a new battery health feature to newer Mac notebooks, while we also saw the official announcement of new colors for the Powerbeats Pro earphones. On the rumor front, we heard a few tidbits about not just this year's iPhone 12 but also next year's iPhone, while we saw...

More Photos and Video of Apple's Redesigned Leather Loop Watch Band Surface

Thursday May 28, 2020 10:50 am PDT by
Images of a new version of the Leather Loop that Apple appears to have in development surfaced yesterday, and today, Vietnamese site Tinhte.vn has shared additional photos and videos that give us a clearer picture of what to expect from the new band. The bands come in colors that include red, hot pink, blue, black, and brown, with some of the bands featuring different colored accents at the...

Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box Gains HDR10+ and Dolby Vision Support, Plus Siri Voice Control

Thursday May 28, 2020 12:00 am PDT by
The Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box is receiving a major update today, introducing much-desired features like HDR10+ and Dolby Vision support. Designed by Signify as part of the Philip Hue line of lights and accessories, the Hue Play HDMI Sync Box is designed to let Hue users sync their lights to their home entertainment systems. One of the major complaints about the Hue Play HDMI Sync Box ...

APFS Bug in macOS 10.15.5 Catalina Impacts the Creation of Bootable Backups

Thursday May 28, 2020 3:47 am PDT by
An Apple File System bug has been discovered in macOS 10.15.5 Catalina that can prevent users from making a bootable clone of their system drive, according to the creator of Carbon Copy Cloner. In a blog post on Wednesday, software developer Mike Bombich explained that the CCC team had uncovered the issue in the Apple File System, or APFS, when attempting to create a bootable backup in a...