Do Not Let Signs Do Your Dirty Work

I saw a sign in a local business this week that took me aback. It was Scotch-taped to the glass entrance door, right at eye level.

If you must use your cellphone, please refrain from using it in our store.

My gut reaction: I’d rather use my cellphone than ever come into your store. Take that!

My next (and mind you, less judgmental) reaction: Man, I wonder if there’s a reason that they don’t want people using their cellphones. Maybe cellphones cause disruption with their products.

Thinking about that for a minute, I really could not see ANY reason that it would interfere with shopping other than that it bothered other shoppers (of which this store had one that I could see through the glass storefront) and/or it bothered the owner (more likely).

Now, I probably should have gone into the store, CELLPHONE OFF, and confirm, but I didn’t. I like my cellphone too much.

Bad Cellphone Manners are a Fact of Life

Now, don’t get me wrong, people are completely oblivious to their horrendous cellphone manners, and I am very often annoyed by them as well. I just saw this fantastic infographic by Pinfographic (cute name, eh?) called Cellular Jerks: Where Are Your Mobile Manners? It outlines just how rude we really are when it comes to cellphone use.

The kicker stat is at the end: 3 in 5 people have been annoyed by someone on their cellphone, and 90% of us think that we have excellent cellphone etiquette. Oops – that’s no good.

Will a Cellphone in Your Store Cause an Explosion?

Here’s my point. The only time that you should have cellphone use signage as strong as this one is if you are in charge of safety at Lincoln Way Energy Plant. If my life may be in danger, then I’ll turn it off. And honestly, the general population doesn’t really seem to care that their life is in danger when they drive 65 mph with their eyes off the road while they text, so even that might be a stretch.

The fact of the matter is, your sign isn’t going to change cellphone etiquette. It’s going to tick people off.

Signage that abrupt makes the customer feel like they are being reprimanded by their sixth-grade teacher before they even walk in the door (that is, if they don’t turn on their heel without another thought about your product and NEVER walk in the door). Your brand voice just yelled at them – not a good first impression.

Get Over It

In this day and age of cellphone usage, businesses are just going to have to get over the fact that they may be annoyed by poor cellphone etiquette. A sign will not make a rude yapper into a polite customer.

They need to remind themselves that it was that customer’s cellphone that sought out your specialty shop in the first place, gave them the phone number to call and check your hours and mapped them directions to your store front. If they want to talk on it while they shop, so be it. And let me just add this, they are probably going to take photos of your products and friendsource them while they are shopping too. Rather than fighting it, you should embrace it. If your product quality and customer service are good enough, then you’ll make the sale. That’s the goal, right?

Remember, you’re competing with an online retailer where the customer didn’t have to drive to your store, didn’t have to check your hours or walk in anywhere. They could have sat in their PJ’s on a Saturday night and read reviews for hours before deciding on their purchase. But they didn’t. They may shop differently than you would prefer, but they are a customer who deserves to hear your positive brand voice just as much as the next one without a phone.

If their cellphone etiquette is really THAT bad, then use your real voice to kindly remind them that there are others in the store that are distracted by their call. Having a face-to-face conversation is much better than signage doing your dirty work for you.

“If you must put up a sign, please refrain from it being this bad.”

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