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'Gurus' for PCs will be assigned to stores

Microsoft cites the Nordstrom experience. Then again, the reps aren't unlike those at Apple Genius Bars . . .

September 06, 2008|From the Associated Press

NEW YORK — As part of its new $300-million marketing campaign and image makeover, Microsoft Corp. plans to deploy its own customer-service representatives at retailers like Best Buy and Circuit City to help people with their PC purchases.

The world's largest software company plans to have 155 "Microsoft gurus" in U.S. stores by the end of the year and expand based on the project's success, Microsoft's general manager of corporate communications, Tom Pilla, said Friday.

These gurus will be answering questions about personal computers and Microsoft products, as well as demonstrating how the company's products work together. The help is designed to get customers thinking Microsoft.

"Think of that as borrowing a page from Nordstrom with that retail customer experience," Pilla said, referring to the upscale department store chain known for customer service.

The move is more likely to strike up comparisons with the rival that has portrayed Microsoft as unhip and out of touch -- Apple Inc., which runs "Genius Bars" in its stores to answer questions about Macs and iPods.

The Genius Bar also offers technical support on already-purchased products, which the Microsoft representatives will not provide.

The Microsoft gurus will not be paid on commission, Pilla said, and instead will be measured by customer satisfaction and their "ability to translate the technology to a language consumers feel comfortable with."

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