Microsoft are unveiling just their second ever flagship store, and the first outside of North America, in Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall this afternoon.
» Read more about what’s there and what’s not in a detailed look at the store itself.
What had this writer fascinated was Microsoft’s repeated mantra, during pre-opening press event, on customer service and letting the customer get hands on. Both are going to be executed in fascinating ways.
First of all, Microsoft will see anyone who comes in with any device to their new ‘Answer Desk’, staffed by a newly hired team from 10 different countries and speak 21 languages.
The policy is as open-door as it can be, and the line “we won’t turn anyone away” was repeated several times during a press conference.
The question was literally asked and answered – yes, you can haul in your old PC tower running Windows 95, and someone will help you get it going again, if they can.
You can also bring in your iPad and if the Office 365 setup isn’t working, they’ll help you with that too, despite it being the device from the old enemy (and an Apple store down the road on George St, of course).
Microsoft aren’t just looking to take care of customers, they’re guaranteeing it, and they will accept walk-ins without appointments. though you can still book one to make sure you’ll be on time.
There’s no big surprise that this is clearly a response to Apple, who offer similar even if they’re not necessarily as upfront about it via the secretive ‘Get To Yes‘ policy.
Another sign is the curious fact that no devices in the Microsoft store are ‘tethered’, or locked down. You could quite simple walk in, tuck a nice new Surface Book under your arm, and walk out.
Sure, the police will have you on CCTV, and Microsoft mentioned their staff will be watchful against ‘shrink’ as it’s known, but it’s remarkably open.
But the unlocked approach is to give customers the best chance possible to feel how a device works across mobility platforms, which is an emphasis in the store, with the overwhelming majority of devices some kind of tablet, laptop, or all-in-one. The least-mobile devices we saw were the Xbox Ones – there wasn’t a traditional tower PC in sight.
Microsoft are going for zero inconveniences and maximum foot traffic to the store.
There’s a 30-day, hassle-free return policy, there’s a big emphasis on making sure they have stock on hand, and there’s talk of a trade-in programme coming out in time.
There’s also a ‘Community Theatre’ where events, training, and functions and small conferences can be had. Microsoft are also supporting a ‘Girls Who Code’ initiative, where girls will be encouraged to get a handle on coding in the store itself.
The company’s hope is that people will want to meet at the Microsoft Store when they’re shopping in the Westfield and Pitt St mall.
The big question is not if Sydney will embrace the store, but how quickly Sydney inundates the store, and if that eventually forces changes if they become consistently overwhelmed.
Free PC advice is valuable, free PC advice from professionals who are trained to be as helpful as they can is a strong offering.
The store opens at midday today in the Pitt St mall – you won’t miss it, but good luck getting tech support early – we’ve already told our friends and family to take their PC issues straight to them!
The new Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book devices go on sale today with the opening of the store.
Surface Book starts at AUD$2,299, with Surface Pro 4 starting at $1,349. You’ll be able to get hands on day one – we’ll have reviews and initial thoughts once the devices hit the desk!