Apple debuted a new app for its in-store Genius Bar service today called Concierge. It's a location-based app that not only tracks the whereabouts of store employees, but also alerts them to the arrival of customers with reservations for appointments at the Genius bar or who have come in to pick up a product. The idea seems to be the first seed to germinate from the firm's patent earlier this year of temporary location-based apps.
The app works using push notifications to the iPhone, and even sends a photo of the employee who's in line to help you, which can then be used to request specific services of the employee in question. It's expected to speed the customer service process in Apple Stores—which, as many users are aware, can be a time-consuming experience.
The service went live for employees yesterday morning, and includes two separate apps-within-the-app: one, iQueue, enables Apple bods to check their list of customers pending, and Scout allows managers to keep tabs on whichever room each employee is in at a given time. Sounds a bit creepy—and in some ways it is, but anything that speeds up the often lengthy process can only be a good thing for consumers.
Apple has long been feted for its positive attitude toward its customers—this year it placed third in BusinessWeek's Customer Service rankings, and has taken the top rating for tech support in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Apple consumers have long been used to warp-speed tech support via either the phone or iChat, but it's been the slowness of in-store service that has held them back. Concierge might be one way of speeding things up—that is, before it starts making house calls to Apple users.