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What can Apple learn from the Dixons boss?

Apple has poached the Dixons chief John Browett to head its retail operations. So how does customer service in the Dixons-owned Currys stores measure up?

Chic, minimalist and staffed by alarmingly helpful young people, Apple stores seemed to come from outer space when they first landed on Britain’s high streets. So for Apple to choose John Browett, the chief executive of Dixons, to head up its retail-store operation is, at first glance, weird.

“Our retail stores are all about customer service, and John shares that commitment like no one else we’ve met,” reckons Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive.

Great customer service and Dixons go together in my mind as neatly as a Scart lead fits into a USB port. Or something. Dixons was judged such a toxic brand its stores were renamed Currys in 2006.

Browett is credited with transforming Dixons/Currys in the past five years so I popped into a local Currys to test its famed customer service. Two members of staff were busy with customers and two more were assembling glossy black tables for huge tellys in the crepuscular rear of the shop. After five minutes loitering, I asked a fifth member of staff – busy re-attaching a price label to a shelf – for help.

I needed a cable to connect my old hi-fi to my laptop. I’m clearly the last person in the galaxy to require such a device and the man from Currys looked at me as if I hailed from another planet.

What kind of socket did my hi-fi have? I had no idea. Was it red and white? Yes! After rummaging through a bin of remaindered items, the staffer found the required 3.5mm to 2 RCA cable. Right, I said warily, how much? The last Apple cable I bought was £18. This cable at Currys? 97p.

The air conditioning rumbled like an old train, the store was dingy and Logik’s pink telly (£139.99) failed to stir my heart. But 97p? That’s customer service. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds