Apple retail staff snafu brings quick apology

After news began getting around that Apple(s AAPL) was cutting back retail staff store hours and letting go some newer employees, the company on Thursday issued something of an apology to both its employees and the public.

According to a Dow Jones report:

In a communication with store leadership teams, senior vice president of retail, John Browett, who took the reins of Apple’s retailstores in April, said that the company had been trying a new staffing formula for its retail stores, leading some employees to see their hourly shifts cut and retail locations to be understaffed. This happened for a few weeks before the company decided to revert to its older system, hoping to rectify the problem.

An Apple PR representative added: “Making these changes was a mistake and the changes are being reversed. … Our employees are our most important asset and the ones who provide the world-class service our customers deserve.”

Apple doesn’t often apologize, but in this case it’s easy to see why it did. Apple’s chain of hundreds of worldwide retail stores overflowing with chipper, non-pushy employees is one of its most valuable assets in attracting new customers — and its secret weapon for keeping current ones satisfied. The in-person customer service shoppers or browsers in the stores receive is key to the relationship. Attempting to save some money by having fewer employees messes with that formula. It’s a good thing Apple saw this right away for the mistake that it was.