What’s better than a hands-on technology store? A hands-on technology store that offers a ton of FREE services.
When I walked into the Microsoft store, I met Malcolm. He stuck with me and answered all of my questions. I didn’t buy anything while I was there, and I was never pressured to.
Here is what Sam had to say before we went:
Honestly, I hadn’t been in the new Microsoft store at the Domain yet because…well… I thought it would be just like the Apple store. To be fair, the exterior is big, plain, and white – just like the Apple store. But, in my opinion, the Microsoft store is different.
Their aim is to be a family-friendly and community-oriented store. So we took the family to check it out!
My first visit was on a Thursday at 4pm. There were not many patrons, but there were plenty of customer service reps. I had a bunch of questions answered, looked around at the products, and Samuel played xbox and fresh paint. My takeaway from the first visit was that the store had some awesome stuff to offer (a lot of it free), it was a great store to visit just for fun, and everyone there was willing to get you going on a machine if you were stuck (which I was :)).
When Malcolm told me you could bring in any Windows product (even if you didn’t buy it there) for help, I texted my mom. She’s an avid Windows user, but her Windows 8 machine was a whole new thing, and she was having trouble figuring it out.
She just so happened to come into town and brought her new laptop! So we visited on a Sunday; I was so glad to be able to also get a feel for the store on the weekend. Even though there were a lot of customers, the store did not feel packed at all. There was plenty of space for the whole family to get through. I even nursed Emma on a bench in the theater room.
Here’s a rundown of the service my mom got: the first lady that greeted her was very friendly and welcoming, but she didn’t have the right information about class times and the “free help” we had heard about. She urged my mom to set up an appointment for later (which honestly is probably ideal if you need a solid tutorial, but anyway). However, another rep came along and interjected to get my mom on the right path. They said a class was just about the start.
Well, the class didn’t have enough people to be put on, and the teacher offered to take my mom aside anyway – awesome! So she spent 20 minutes or so getting hands-on help diving into Windows 8. Not enough to make her a Windows 8 wizard (we did have lunch plans), but enough to get her started.
What I loved about the Microsoft store:
FREE services. This is one of my favorite things about the Microsoft store (besides the fact that no one inside [except me of course] was dressed like a hipster). What’s free?
– Classes. Each day, a number of free classes are offered. The classes range from toddlers in technology to Microsoft Office help to virtual golf. To see a list of classes offered at your store, go here, type in your zip code, click to go to your store’s page, then scroll down to see a list of events.
– Xbox game trials. Have you ever wanted to try out a video game before you buy it? Of course you have! Well, the store offers tons of games that you can sample before purchasing. They can’t have every game offered because the Microsoft store is aiming to be family friendly (thanks for that!) while all of their games are- not.
– Meeting room. Before I went, this was described to me as a “theater” space. Not quite. It’s not enclosed, simply offset from the rest of the store. But it does have a large projector, and you can book the meeting room for free.
– Windows assistance. Obviously, the Microsoft store sells windows products: laptops, phones, Surface (their tablet), etc. Not only will they spend as much time as you want getting everything on your new product just they way you want it, but you can even bring in ANY Windows product that you need help with, and they will take the time you need. This could be, “Uh… Show me how to use Windows 8.” Or, “Something’s going wonky with my phone. Can you help?” Yes, they can. And Malcolm even told me they’re offering tune ups and help tracking down viruses for a limited time. The best news to me? They don’t charge you AND you don’t HAVE to set up an appointment. That being said, I would set up an appointment if you need to go in at a busy time, like Saturday. The appointments are equally free. 🙂 You can schedule appointments right on your store’s page.
– Summer camps. If you have a grade school child, there are free summer camps available – how cool is that!? No summer camp is free! Unfortunately, they are already booked up for this year. 🙁
– Discounts and custom encounters. If you have a group that wants to do something at the Microsoft store, like maybe a homeschooling group getting a demo or a church group trying out a new piece of software, they are willing to work with you to make a custom event! Each store has a community manager that can make a custom class. I love that! And if you have a homeschooling group or co-op, I believe a certain amount of purchases qualifies the group for a discount!
– (Not free.) Birthday parties. Pay a cleanup fee to host a child’s birthday part at the Microsoft store. They can set you up with Dance Central or other video games (for free), and they’ll provide free swag. Yes!
Watch out for this:
– Saturdays and Sundays. On my first visit, when I asked Malcolm what the place was like on Saturday, he said, “Busy.” People are trying out all of the devices and having tons of fun playing video games. I really thought Sunday was going to be impossible, but I was pleasantly surprised! A video game station was even open.
– Free means not always available. From what I could tell, they had plenty of customer service reps on the floor. I had all of my questions answered (mostly by Malcolm – thanks dude!). I don’t think it will be a problem accessing most of their free services, but the summer camp situation was disappointing. I was so excited to share those with you, and it was a bummer to find out they were already all shut down. The pro here is you can pre-register for anything. From talking with Malcolm, it seemed that none of their free classes were ever too large, but if you pre-register, you’re guaranteed a spot.
– Not every rep seems to be fully trained. I’m not sure what was going on with the mis-information my mom got, but from what I could tell (from both visits), if you were looking for some help, you could get it. Maybe their greeters are not the same level as their trainers or answer desk staff. So if you know what you want help on, I’d go straight to the Answer Desk.
In my dream world:
– Text and email alerts. Because the Microsoft store has so many cool things going on, it would be nice to have a text or email alert occasionally to check out the new calendar. Something like “This week’s free events include a Dance Central party and Entrepreneur training. Check it out here.” would be awesome. And brainless for me – which is what I need. 😉
Bottom line, the Microsoft store was so much more than what I expected! Samuel was very disappointed that we didn’t take a computer home, but he loved that he got to play on everything in the store, and they were glad he was “touching all the buttons”. 🙂
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