Q:What’s your store policy on personal phone calls/texting at work?
“Personal cell phones are allowed on the sales floor, but must be on silent or vibrate settings. Staff cell phones must always be kept out of sight of customers. It is a strictly enforced rule that cell phones are not to be left in plain sight on the selling floor. And, under no circumstances do I want to see an employee on their personal cell phone when a customer walks in – even if its work related. Personal business is to be handled on break times. If there’s an emergency or urgent matter that requires a phone call or a text message, they can excuse themselves from the sales floor and quickly handle a personal matter. Also, sales associates are allowed to have their work e-mail accounts on their cell phones to help expedite store product image requests from customers. That’s most of the employee manual type of rules. And, I don’t encourage salespeople to give out their personal cell phones to send text messages to customers, but given this business is all about relationship building it’s allowed.”
Susan McClain, store manager
“We don’t have a real personal phone call and texting policy in place yet, but it is beginning to form on its own. The bottom line is our customers are using their cell phones more and more. It’s the way people are communicating – both young and old. People surf the internet for products, and send product images to our sales staff. And, the quickest way to receive this information is by text or e-mail on staff’s cell phones. The real balance a store owner and their sales staff have to achieve is taking advantage of using cells phones as a powerful tool – and that’s what it is these days – with taking care of the people that take the time and effort to walk into your brick and mortar store. When people walk through your store doors and see a sales associate on their cell phone they automatically assume it’s personal. Then again, one of our sales associates recently sold a Hearts On Fire diamond via text messaging. Could that sale have happened otherwise? Perhaps. Then again, perhaps not – it’s hard to know for sure. Again, striking that balance. I attended a seminar at the Las Vegas show. One of the speakers said that cell phones should not be seen or heard on the sales floor. That’s enforced here. But otherwise, for the sake of expediency, convenience and customer service, we allow our sales staff to use their cell phones as part of their job. But again, the customer(s) in the store are the sales staff’s first priority. And, making sure cell phones are not seen or heard at any given time on the sales floor.”
Lyn Hoppe, part owner
“I’m not much of a policy person so our store doesn’t have a set personal calling or cell phone texting set of rules. We’re a small store in a small town and I like the work environment to be a relaxed and calming place where people enjoy working. Like most stores, each sales associate has a designated desk. Personal cell phones are required to be on silent mode and kept at their desks, used there and out of sight of the customers. Sales associates do have computers they can use, but in this day and age communicating by text is done a lot with younger customers, so that’s allowed. I trust our employees to do the right thing, but should there be excessive personal phone calls and text messaging happening on the sales floor I’d assess the situation on a case-by-case basis. If it warrants immediate attention, the problem would be addressed quickly with that person. I hold quarterly employee reviews and would most likely bring the issue up in that review. But again, to date it hasn’t been a problem in our store.”
Chris Carter, owner
Carter’s Jewel Chest
Mountain Home, AR
“We don’t have any real policy on personal phone calls and texting. We know there is some recreational [internet] surfing with the occasional recipe ending up in the printer, and I’m sure some personal calls are made and some text messages are being sent. But we have highly professional sales staff that have been working here for many years. And it’s a very competitive group of salespeople. By all measures, the work is being done so why institute such a policy. If such a policy was to be implemented it would be in response to excessive use of personal devices. But again, to date it has never been an issue with our sales staff. We’re very fortunate.”
Jon Walp, general manager
Virginia Beach, VA
“We implemented a policy four to five years ago that all personal cell phones, iPads, tablets and other personal computing devices not be visible on the sales floor to our customers. When the policy was implemented, we purchased one laptop and three iPads for the sales staff. There’s plenty of ways to contact customers with this technology on the sales floor. To date, we haven’t heard any complaints from the sales staff’s ability to connect with customers or from customers saying they aren’t being contacted by the sales staff. If a salesperson needs to make a personal phone call or send a personal text, they can leave the sales floor to conduct their personal business for a brief period of time. But only if there’s enough people on the floor and they must let someone know they’re leaving the sales floor for a short period of time. The policy has been working very well for us and we trust our employees to use their best judgement. I do know store managers from larger chain stores that have real problems with sales staff sending personal text messages and playing games on the sales floor.”
Tricia Drummond, owner and CEO
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