If there’s a definition of irony among Apple stores, it was that while employees were being laid off last month, virtual Specialists were appearing on the company’s Web store as purchase assistants and tech support experts. The transfer of real-life retail store Specialists to an on-line version highlighted staffing cutbacks ordered by Sr. VP Retail John Browett during the summer, which quickly generated public criticism, and later a reversal As first reported by Pocket-Lint.com, visitors to Apple’s on-line store for the UK, Brazil, Germany and Spain now have the option to communicate with a Specialist to ask questions or request help with product set-up. A customer has a choice of contact methods: engage in a chat session with a Specialist, receive a telephone call or conduct a live video session. To promote the new service, Apple has added a new category to the right column titled, “Expert Advice. Personalized Help,” just below the refurbished products category. Beneath the heading is a photo of a female Specialist wearing a gray T-shirt with a white Apple logo. Clicking on a link leads to a dedicated Web page for the Apple Store Specialists.
The Store Specialist is promoted in the right column of the main on-line store Web page for the UK, Brazil, Germany and Spain, and a link leads to a dedicated Web page (alt link) for the Specialist services.
Update: On September 12, 2012 the on-line Specialists wearing gray T-shirts appeared for the first time on the U.S. on-line store in support of iPhone 5 sales.