Samsung Wants to One-Up Apple’s Genius Bar With New WeWork ‘Care Centers’

Samsung is teaming up with co-working startup WeWork to create customer "Care Centers" that are similar to Apple's own in-store Genius Bars, reports Fast Company.

Apple's Genius Bars are designed to allow customers to receive technical support and repairs on a range of Apple products, including Macs and iOS devices. Samsung's upcoming Care Centers will work in the same way, but Samsung wants to one-up Apple with a better waiting experience.

A WeWork facility in New York

At one of three pilot service centers opening in WeWork locations in Detroit, Miami, and New York later this month, Samsung customers can come in and get help for their products while also using the WeWork facilities.

Because it's a co-working space, WeWork gives customers a place to get their own work done while also enjoying fresh coffee and fruit-infused water.

Samsung Electronics America VP of design Mick McConnell tells Fast Company that he came up with the idea while waiting for an hour and a half at a Genius Bar at an Apple retail location. "I was like, there's gotta be a better way to do this," he said.
"Service is a hassle. I know I'm going to have to take time out of my day to do it," says McConnell. "The concept was, if I take time out of my day, at least I can sit in a conference room, make phone calls, and do work, as opposed to sitting in a busy room with a bunch of angry people."
Samsung is taking over a portion of each WeWork location and installing a steel and glass box with shared tables and Samsung workstations. The space features a midcentury-inspired design that matches up with the rest of the WeWork facility, but with special touches like higher-end furniture and Samsung video conferencing systems.

Image via Fast Company

Samsung Retail Design project director Danny Orenstein told Fast Company that the aim is to make Samsung customers "feel welcome" at WeWork while also making WeWork subscribers feel comfortable working in the Samsung space in an effort to expand Samsung's potential customer base.

Along with offering Care Centers at select WeWork locations, Samsung also plans to host after-hours talks with creatives in WeWork spaces, much like Apple does at its own retail stores.

Samsung will use the WeWork spaces to experiment with what works and what doesn't work before considering expanding to additional locations. WeWork currently has 235 locations, and should the project pan out, it could mean a major expansion of Samsung customer support locations.

At the three centers opening this month, Samsung will offer "tier 1" support, letting customers get help with using features on their phone. Staff can also send Samsung equipment to repair centers, but there are no on-site repairs available.

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Steve Jobs Thought Genius Bar Was ‘Idiotic’ Idea at First, Said ‘It’ll Never Work’

While the Genius Bar is the focal point of the Apple Store, it turns out the idea was initially panned by late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

On the Recode Decode podcast, Apple's former retail chief Ron Johnson recalled the day he told Jobs about the Genius Bar.

Steve's initial reaction to the idea: "That's so idiotic! It'll never work!"
“I remember the day I came in and told Steve about the Genius Bar idea and he says, ‘That’s so idiotic! It’ll never work!’” Johnson said. “He said, ‘Ron, you might have the right idea, but here’s the big gap: I’ve never met someone who knows technology who knows how to connect with people. They’re all geeks! You can call it the Geek Bar.’”

“And I said, ‘Steve, kids who are in their 20s today grew up in a very different world. They all know technology, and that’s who’s going to work in the store.’”
Jobs went on to tell Johnson that the Genius Bar may in fact be the "right idea," but he was not convinced at the time that people who knew technology would be able to communicate effectively with customers.

"They're all geeks! You can call it the Geek Bar," he quipped.

Johnson, who left Apple in 2011 and now runs online retail startup Enjoy, argued that people who were in their 20s at the time—this was around the year 2000—grew up in a world surrounded by technology, implying the Genius Bar would not be manned merely by "geeks."

The following day, Johnson said Jobs instructed Apple's top lawyer to file a trademark for "Genius Bar."

In an earlier interview, Johnson said it took some time before the Genius Bar gained traction, but within three years Apple was forced to create a reservation system due to its popularity. Nearly sixteen years later, the Genius Bar and the newer, more open concept Genius Grove remain a mainstay at most Apple Stores.

Related Roundup: Apple Stores
Tags: Steve Jobs, Ron Johnson, Genius Bar

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