Episode #149: Imagine… If We Truly Think Different

Grad Conn

July 27, 202110 min read

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In today’s episode we imagine a richer, more satisfying retail shopping experience. An experience where we’re known, valued, and appreciated. Is that too much to ask? (spoiler alert: no).  Today we’re talking about the Apple Store.

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That’s right. You’re hearing it correctly. You are back at the Unified CXM Experience. The dulcet tones of Mr. Jimi Hendrix. Thank you, Jimmy. Okay, and as always, I am your host, Grad Conn, CXO or Chief Experience Officer at Sprinklr. I’m really proud to be here. It’s a New York Stock Exchange listed company, ticker symbol, CXM.

And I couldn’t be more pleased than to have today’s show to talk about one of my favorite brands, which is Apple. Now everyone talks about Apple, I can talk about it in a slightly different way. And caveat, as many of you know, I spent a dozen years at Microsoft, and I’m also a huge fan of Microsoft. And I am actually on a Surface laptop right now. It’s a beautiful machine, gorgeous piece of machinery. I’m just in love with my Surface devices. But I also have an iPhone, and I have a pair of air pods. And I have air pods Max. And I have Apple TVs and many other various Apple devices in my life. So I’m an Apple/Microsoft household and I see the advantages of both of them.

Now, my background with the Apple brand actually goes back quite a few years. My very first personal computer at home – I’d left, or I was about to leave Procter and Gamble to go out on my own and become a web entrepreneur and so I bought my first machine, which was an LC475. And the big discussion and the big argument was whether I got the 80-megabyte hard drive, or the 160-megabyte hard drive, or it might have been the 90-megabyte hard drive or the 180-megabyte hard drive, I think it might have been that, anyway, you get the idea. And so, big argument, big discussion. There was several thousand dollars at stake. It was a big financial decision. I thought, “Oh, man, will I ever really need 180 megabytes of storage? It seems like so much”. But I went for it. I went for it, and I was pretty glad I did, because I used it up pretty quickly.

I brought that machine home, hooked it up to Hayes14.04 modem and I was in business. And actually even to this day that modem is always on my desk, I’ve long lost the power cord for it. So it’s a dead modem, but it serves as my coffee cup holder. And it’s a good reminder of the beginnings of my tech career sitting alone in the basement with a Mac and a modem and sort of wading my way through the universe. It was a very productive time of my life, and I did a lot of really cool things but then I accidentally discovered a game called Castle Wolfenstein, or as they would sing in Frankenstein, ‘Wolfenstein’ and February 1995, that was just a lost month. That month, just gone. I killed a lot of Nazis but that’s all I did. I finally uninstalled Castle from my machine and moved on and continued to build my life. Thank God.

Anyway, it was a great time in my life. And I was very much into Apple. And then I, at that point, I was founding an agency, it grew and grew and grew and grew and eventually turned into Open Cola and many other tech adventures. But the agency got to be pretty large, and I was eventually buying a lot of Macs. Then Steve Jobs returned. There was a moment in time where I was on, you know, it was all called OS 9, if you remember, and nine point whatever we were on, and it was a bit of a garbagy OS. It was the only thing you could use because in Toronto, all the agencies used Macs and the printing houses, like if you weren’t on a Mac, you couldn’t really be in the business. And so I was investing in Macs, but at the same time everyone’s talking about how Apple was about to go out of business. So it was quite an act of faith. I was buying machines and buying the peripherals and SCSI drives and Jaz drives and Zip drives and all the other kinds of things that went with it and continuing to invest in all these high-end Apple machines in my agency. Meanwhile, every day in the business news, it was how much time does Apple have left and are they going to go under. Steve Jobs returns to Apple, he, not everyone remembers this, but he got a hundred million loan from Microsoft. Microsoft saved Apple, actually for a brief while owned 10% of Apple stock and then got Steve back on his feet and then off he went.

And the first three iMacs were Aquamarine. The first three iMacs shipped to Canada went to my agency, ConnAd. And we used and loved those for many years and just got rid of the last one recently. So yeah, my point here is I’ve spent millions and millions of dollars on Apple gear, and you know stood in line for the first iPhones and all the iPhone subsequently and iPads and you name it and equipped an entire family with all these devices as well. And now a fiancée with hers as well.

So I spent a lot of money on Apple stuff, I’m going to go to the store today. I have to pick up a watch charger. So I’m going to go to the Apple store at the top of Fifth Avenue, Fifth Avenue and 60th in front of what used to be the General Motors Building, I’m going to walk in that store, and they’d be like, “Why are you here?” But no idea who I am. No idea. I’m not wearing an Apple Watch, and my phone will probably be non-visible. They don’t even know if I own any Apple stuff. They have no sense of standing in line in the rain in Seattle for the stuff and the years of devotion and the risks and the spending money when it looked like it was all going under. They have no sense of any of that. It’s kind of a little bit sad actually. You know, it’s funny, I wanted to do this episode today because I wanted to talk about this. But even just saying this, as I’m talking about it, I’m feeling actual sadness right now. It’s just like unrequited love. And then next to me or behind me or in front of me will be some other customer who may have never purchased a single Apple product. And they’ll get treated – and they’ll treat us nicely. I’m not saying they’re bad people at the Apple Store, they’ll be very pleasant, but we’ll be treated exactly the same.

I think there’s a problem there. I think there’s a big problem there. And it’s a problem that’s true across almost all retail brands. But it is quite acute in some of these tech categories where you’re not just a buyer. You’re also a fan and you’re a fanatic in some ways. And you’re also an influencer and you’re also an advocate. You’re telling people and showing people how to use them. The buyer community in tech is a very highly involved buyer community. So in a ridiculous world, they would know who I was when I walked in the store. So this is one of our imagination shows. I think I’ll say the imagination song from Epcot that Figment sings, “Imagination, imagination …”. I don’t have the whole song in front of me, but you get the idea. I should look it up while I’m doing this to see if I can find that. It is a great song. And I’m kind of feeling like I want to sing it. Imagination song lyrics, here we go. Well, this is a long song.

Okay, I’ll won’t do all of it. This is actually by the Sherman Brothers. I didn’t realize that. So it’s called

‘Journey Into Imagination’ One Little Spark by the Sherman Brothers, I got a chance to see Richard Sherman in concert at one of the Disney expos, the Disney D23 Expo. So it was pretty amazing.

So, Imagination, imagination,
a dream can be a dream come true.
With just that spark from me and you.
One little spark of inspiration
is at the heart of all creation,
right at the start of everything that’s new,
one little spark lights up for you.
Imagination, imagination,
A dream can be a dream come true
with just that spark from me and you.
One little spark of inspiration
is at the heart of all creation.
Right at the start of everything that’s new.
One little spark lights up for you.
Imagination, imagination,
A dream can be a dream come true
with just that spark from me and you.

I enjoyed that. I didn’t think I was going to sing the whole thing, but I just got into it. That was really fun. Anyway, thanks, Sherman Brothers. So here’s my imagination for today. So, wouldn’t it be cool if I walked up to the head of the line at the Apple Store and they said, “Do you have your Apple card?” I said, “Yes, I do”. And I take my Apple card out, and I scan it. And they can instantly see how much I have purchased from Apple over the years. And they say, “Ah, you’re a VIP Plus customer. Mr. Conn, come here to our VIP Plus customer line”. “Thank you very much”. What are we here for?” “I’m here for a wireless phone charger”. “Great. Here’s our wireless phone charger. VIP special. This is only available to our VIP Plus members. And it comes in two colors red and hot pink. And plus when you buy this charger, you also get $50 off the next version of the watch, which we’ll be announcing in a couple months”. “Wow, that sounds fantastic”. “Is there anything else you’d like, Mr. Conn?” “Well, you know, ha ha, I’d love a free Apple TV”. “Well, actually, you know, we are offering a special on Apple TVs right now. They’re $100 off. We’re also offering $50 off the Air Pods Max. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to watch Apple TV, the new one with Air Pods Max at the same time, but it’s a mind-blowing experience”. “You know, it’s interesting. I don’t know if I want to buy that right now. But let me take a look at it”. Well, let me show you …. “

Do you see where I’m going with this? This would be so easy for Apple to execute. It’d be ridiculously easy. Why doesn’t Apple have a loyalty program? Why doesn’t every retailer have a loyalty program? And why can’t I present that card and be tiered like I am at hotels and like I am in airlines and why can’t I get a special line and special products and special gear based on that? Why not? THAT is customer experience. That’s something where I become an Apple loyalist. I’ll never stop coming back because I’m treated differently, and I want to bring my friends for them to see how that treatment looks and how that feels and how amazing that is.

So that is my imagination for today. That’s my desired customer experience. I feel like I want to sing again, but I think I’m going to not do that. Yep, I’m getting waved off by Randy on that one. Okay, so I’m getting a ‘no’ on the singing. Okay, check. All right, I’m done for today. And for the Unified CXM Experience. I am Grad Conn, CXO at Sprinklr and I will see you … next time.

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