Mobile Interuptus


How many people walk into your shop or practice while talking on a mobile phone while at the same time wanting to be assisted? Sometimes it is that unexpected phone call that happens just as you hit the door. Sometimes it is that conversation goes on a little longer than you wanted. It’s happened to us all. There certainly are times where you can do try and two things at once, such as being on the phone while paying for the two grocery items you grabbed on the way home, but even then, don’t we all feel a little rude having one conversation on the phone while the cashier at the store is trying to help us?

I’ve seen a number of signs inside and outside stores saying things like NO MOBILE PHONES! When I have asked about why the sign, some stores give an answer that revolves around showrooming, where a customer looks through your inventory and makes inquiries to milk your expertise, to then leave and purchase the product cheaper online.

More often than not, the answer is to keep people off their cell phones while being waited on or assisted. How many doctors have had exams interrupted by cell phone calls? How many sales presentations have been stopped mid-sentence by the ringing or worse, the answering of the cell phone?


We shake our head at our customers and patients and wonder how they can be so rude? Yes, there are genuinely rude uncaring people for whom they feel the world revolves around them. They will answer the phone in the middle of a meal and the middle of a movie. Most people, however, don’t mean to be rude, they just forget their manners, and when politely pointed out, they are quick to silence their phones and return them to their purse or pocket. That includes us.

How many of us are equally rude in our daily lives? We may not answer the phone in the doctor’s office. How many of us could while in the dentist’s chair, even if we wanted to? We may not answer our phones while being waited on by a sales associate. There is, however, a fine line between chatting on the phone with someone while browsing through a store and being on the phone when approached by a salesperson. We need to keep these distinctions in mind before dismissing the customer as being rude and ill-mannered.

I know some things are routine. We do them by rote. Ordering coffee, paying for purchases at the cash register, picking up the dry cleaning. We reap what we sow. How many of us forget to put the phone down to acknowledge the person helping us, whether they are fast food cashier or the family doctor? We can set the example by what we do whether we are the seller or the customer.

At the top of this story is a sign I cleaned up from a handwritten one that was recently shown in one of the forums. It gets the point across about using cell phones a bit better than most I’ve seen. It is still a bit rude though. How many times have you been on the phone while walking somewhere and a window display compels you to enter the store? A sign that says NO CELL PHONES will have the opposite effect and make many people want to turn around and leave.

Sure, we all want the complete attention of our customers and patients, but we need to remember, that many people come into a store every day to do nothing more than look. The fastest way to chase them off is to chase them off with silly signs that infer that your time is more valuable than theirs.





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