This is What's Really Causing the Retail Apocalypse (It's Not Amazon)

Curtis Zimmerman
July 12, 2019

Curtis Zimmerman

Empowering Individuals and Organizations to Live Life at Performance Level

Want to make it out of the retail apocalypse alive? It's time to stop blaming Amazon and start focusing on your customer experience.

If any part of your business is brick-and-mortar, there is a threat facing you that could tank your sales--if it hasn't already.

And it's not Amazon.

It's employees who were never trained on how to interface with customers and who ignore the people who walk through your door.

It's managers who complain and berate instead of demonstrating the behavior they want to see in their people.

It's teenage workers who bury their faces in their phones instead of straightening up or asking customers if they need assistance.

It's employee disengagement.

Sure, Amazon worsens these issues--but it didn't create them. When customers don't have a reason to go to a physical location, especially if they don't feel valued by the employees they interact with, they'll buy online. Cue the retail apocalypse.

After working with many large, consumer-facing companies and noticing what makes the successful ones successful, I have realized this: There is no branding more important than the employee-to-customer experience. Yes, innovation is key, but it's secondary to hiring and training great people.

Want to make sure that your company makes it out of the "Retail Apocalypse " alive? Here's how.

1. Invest in your frontline employees.

In order to rise above the competition, many brick-and-mortar-based companies are investing in new buildings, marketing, and advertising, gorgeous new websites and a compelling brand story.

But guess what? Your brand story will have a tragic ending if your customer is met in the store by an employee who simply doesn't care.

And soon, Yelp reviews and word-of-mouth will quickly cancel out all the hard work of your marketing team.

It's time to tell a different brand story, and this one is about your employees.

I have to say first that the most important thing that you can do to improve your customer experience is hiring great employees. Your frontlines workers should be personable problem-solvers who love people. But what about the employees you already have?

When McDonald's noticed that they were having people problems, like rapid turnover rates, dissatisfied customers and checked-out workers, they started putting their resources into their employees and not just into building the "restaurant of the future."

As much as I love speaking to C-Suite teams, I love speaking to people working on the frontlines even more. Several times a year, McDonald's brings me in to give my keynote at rallies for managers to get them excited about leading their people and interfacing with their customers.

My team and I were honored to be part of this initiative, and we built out a Life at Performance Level "Solution in a Box" program to keep my message alive every day in the minds of the people behind the counter.

I mention this because live events and ongoing programming make employees feel cared about, and they get everyone on the same page about company values and procedures. Want your next event to be the one that makes your employees excited about their job and your customers? I recently created a free guide to a high-impact conference that you can download--it has everything you'll need to know.

Because here's the bottom line: Employees who feel cared about will care about your customers.

2. Establish clear expectations.

It happens all too often that minimum-wage employees get minimum training, which results in minimum effort on their part.

Wonder why products and services aren't selling the way they should?

If managers allow people to hide in the corner of a store and look at their phone, you have your answer.

I've written before about how every minute that your employee spends on their phones, money is lost.

This is plaguing every industry. In my travels alone, I've seen teenagers leaning on the concessions stands at movie theaters where they work (selling nothing), employees at coffee shops on their phone by the blenders (ignoring customers), and even security guards at airports watching videos on their iPhones (protecting no one.)

The fix for this is easy, and it's all in training and leadership. The age of sitting a new employee in front of a 6-hour long training video has to end.

If your training isn't person-to-person and doesn't make expectations for phone usage abundantly clear, you will have problems. And if you don't clearly outline what your employees should be doing when there's not a clear transaction to complete, they'll turn to their phones.

Employees should be asking customers questions, solving their problems and writing down ideas for store improvement when there's "nothing else" to do. Often, frontline employees have the best ideas for how to make more money and give customers a better experience!

Note: If you're sitting in a corporate office and you have employees in stores on the frontlines--invite them to your meetings. They know what the customer wants! For more on this, listen to episode #20 of my podcast.

3. Make it personal for your customers.

Once your employees are engaged and invested, you can go back to thinking about creating the best possible customer experience.

Look at your own preferences and the preferences of those close to you to determine what makes an amazing customer experience. What makes you feel appreciated without feeling pressured to buy? What quick fixes make all the difference? For example, I love that at Starbucks, instead of writing the name of your drink on the cups, they write your name.

I also love amusement parks because they understand the value of using their physical space to create an experience.

Even in an increasingly digital world, Disney won't be filing for bankruptcy anytime soon. Why? Because they know that magic happens in real-time and space.

In a world that is loud with digital experiences, it can be surprisingly effective to go the quietest place. Do a physical mailing. Host a live event. Interact with your customers face-to-face. There's never been a better time to handwrite a personal note.

I think you'll notice that the things that make for an amazing customer experience all boil down to human interaction, whether you're at a fast-food restaurant or an international cellular provider.

That's one thing that Amazon can never take over--no matter how personable Alexa may be.


To book Curtis Zimmerman for your next event, visit his profile: https://premierespeakers.com/curtis_zimmerman

Need books for an event? Get bulk books at non-bulky prices at Bulkbooks.com.

The post This is What's Really Causing the Retail Apocalypse (It's Not Amazon) appeared first on Curtis Zimmerman.

Curtis Zimmerman

Want Curtis Zimmerman for your next event?

Find out more information, including fees and availability.
Find Out More
Keep Reading
Bad Brand Reputation? 7 Ways to Turn a Booing Crowd into Raving Fans
Curtis Zimmerman
Curtis Zimmerman
September 18, 2019
Need to reverse a bad brand reputation--and fast? Read on for the ...
How to Reverse Your Employee Turnover Rate and Eliminate Front-Line Frustration
Curtis Zimmerman
Curtis Zimmerman
September 09, 2019
Employee turnover rate is an increasing issue in today’ ...
Yes, You Should Invest in Yourself, but Not Because Your Life is About You.
Curtis Zimmerman
Curtis Zimmerman
September 04, 2019
I want you to invest in yourself. I want you to take time and ...
Bad Brand Reputation? 7 Ways to Turn a Booing Crowd into Raving Fans
Need to reverse a bad brand reputation--and fast? Read on for the hottest tips in the industry. I once was next to Vanilla Ice at a booth at a National Association for Campus Activities conference. That's right: The rapper whose iconic song Ice Ice Baby was on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1990 was not playing to sold-out arenas: Instead, he w...
Read More
How to Reverse Your Employee Turnover Rate and Eliminate Front-Line Frustration
Employee turnover rate is an increasing issue in today’s economy, especially for corporations that rely on front-line employees to interface with customers. Here’s how to reverse turnover rates and connect all levels of employees. A game of broken telephone will break your company culture. I've worked with many corporations who have customer-fa...
Read More
Yes, You Should Invest in Yourself, but Not Because Your Life is About You.
I want you to invest in yourself. I want you to take time and think about the life you're living and why you're on the planet. I want you to be a rockstar in your own show. But I don't want you to do that because it's about you. I want you to do that so that you can give it away to other people. At the end of the day, I believe the point of l...
Read More
When you Find Yourself in a New Stage of Life, Step into the Spotlight
You're in a new situation, and you feel like life as you knew it has given way to a dark empty stage of unknowns, and an audience is waiting with bated breath to see what you do next. It's your first day at college. Your first night alone in your new apartment. Your first day in the corner office as CEO. Your first wide-open Saturday...
Read More
Your Life is Not a Dress Rehearsal, and the Decisions You Make Today Matter.
Your life is a live performance, and the small decisions you make every day have an irreversible effect on the trajectory of your life. I'm not talking about reckless decisions that have obvious, negative consequences on our lives and the lives of others like drunk driving, cheating on a test, or having an affair. I'm talking about the da...
Read More
The Opposite of Micromanaging: Your Key to Being a Better Parent and Leader
Are you struggling to help your kids or your employees become more independent? Whether you're a parent or you lead people in another capacity, your job is not to micromanage--it's the opposite of micromanaging. Your job is to prepare them to manage themselves as they enter into their first year of college or get a promotion. Since th...
Read More
What New College Students Need to Hear More Than Anything
The transition from high school to college is no small thing. 18-year-olds go from living with their parents and being among the oldest and most experienced kids at their school to being a college freshman, living in a dorm with a stranger and not even know their way around campus. There are many challenges that come with this massive transit...
Read More
Dear Parents Dropping Your Kids Off at College: You Did the Best You Could.
Dear Parents of incoming College First-Years, First of all, congratulations. It's easy to get lost in all the last-minute shopping and packing and the emotions of your child getting ready to leave the nest and step out on their own, but take a minute and be proud. This is a big day. For the last 18 years or so, you've devoted your life to the...
Read More
You Can't Get Where You Want to Go If You Keep Demonstrating What You Already Know
Some people get to a passable level of performance and think that they've "arrived." Other people think that once they get to a certain level, they'll feel like they've arrived, but even once they get there, they don't. News flash: You'll never arrive! Just because you get a new label, whether that's high school graduate, a fancy "Dr." in...
Read More
Yes, You Have Permission To Cut the Crazymakers Out of Your Life
You could have the most successful career, the most beautiful home, the best clothes and even endless passion for what you do--but here's a newsflash: If you don't have good people in your life, you are not going to be happy. You see, if your life is a show and you are the star of that show, your story will be largely affected by the cast of ...
Read More