THE BLOG
03/13/2014 03:29 pm ET Updated May 13, 2014

Who Is Working Your Front Line?

I recently ventured into Walmart. Normally I steer clear from their stores, but on this occasion I needed a variety of random things and I didn't feel like trekking around town to four different stores while fighting the snow.

As I was in the checkout line, something strange happened. Over their radios, I heard someone say, "Is there a Katrina that works here?" I chuckled and thought to myself, do they not even know who works at their stores? The cashier heard me laugh and asked what was so funny. I simply asked him, "Do the managers here not know people's names here?"

What I didn't expect was the answer I got back. He said (and I quote), "for the first 4-6 months they have no clue who you are." I then went on to ask him what it's like working at Walmart and essentially heard "this place is terrible." Walmart has not had the best rap in the past for treating its workers extremely well, but I was shocked to hear the details he was giving to a customer.

There are lots of different types of customer traits in both the B2B space and B2C space. At No Joke Marketing we refer to them as P2P (people to people) and one of the same.

Most of the people that shop at Walmart shop there because their prices tend to be lower. There are other shoppers who go there because it's close to their house or convenient in my case when you need to pick up a variety of random things.

How much business are they loosing because of front line employees that are unhappy and spreading that unhappiness to their customers? Why would you want to frequent a business that causes you to leave in a bad mood? If you are a price shopper, you will most likely chalk that experience up and keep shopping in the future, but if you're there for other reasons it may just be the last straw that causes you to go elsewhere. As you know it is ten times more expensive and harder to acquire a new customer than keep an existing customer.

Please don't get me wrong; I'm not saying that every one of their employees is unhappy, but think about the damage that even one front line employee can do if they are not happy with their work, being treated poorly or not properly trained.

You might be thinking, well, people have off days. I totally get that. However, you would be shocked to see how someone performs on an off day at a company that treats them well. Take Disney, for example. I'm sure their cast members have off days, but I highly doubt you are going to see one of them going around and spreading their bad mood to the guests. They are treated well, they are trained well and they know they need to keep their personal feelings at home to ensure every guest has a magical experience. Is Disney like Walmart? Of course not. But the biggest reason guests return to Disney is because of a positive experience they had with cast members. Imagine how much more business Walmart could do if that reason was the same at their stores. They would be unstoppable.

Marketing is any interaction with a prospect or customer. These don't just have to be physical interactions, they can be your business card, your signage on your store front, how the phone is answered, even your company name. Keep a close eye on how these interactions are helping or hurting your business.

In this real life example I'm encouraging you to make sure you are taking care of your staff and they are properly trained so they will help grow your business with you rather than hurt it.