In an increasingly turned-on world, a leading cause of poor customer service from retailers is caused by trying to wait on a shopper who is actively engaged in a cell phone call.
They generally aren't doing it to upset you – it just feels that way at times.
The short answer to how to service a customer on their cellphone is: wait.
That’s not the most helpful, so here are a few tips based on answering this fundamental question:
Where and why are they doing this?
Is it as they are entering? It could be to avoid having to deal with you. You don’t even know if there is a real person on the other end. My response is to make eye contact if you can as they walk in/past you and make a welcoming motion like a wave. Then just wait until they come to you.
Are they on the phone and just realized their surroundings? If their attitude is to ask for forgiveness the appropriate response might be, “Don’t apologize, happens all the time,” then ask them your question from the third part of the sale like, “Who gets the gift today?”
Are they answering a phone call in the middle of the sale? As it rings you can say, “I’ll come back when you’re off the phone.” Don’t just stand there listening in but move away to give them privacy, not to blow them off for taking a call that might be from a sick child or co-worker with a problem.
Are they just “running in to make an order” at your coffeehouse or quick-service restaurant and multi-tasking? Hand them a pad of paper and a pen with a smile. You’ll both be happier.
How not to do it? Place rude signs up around your store like these I’ve seen:
When you’ve completed your call, you may step forward to the counter, until then, wait.
No cellphone use
Finish your call before ordering.
We have to begin from the place where most of your shoppers; most are on the phone by accident or were interrupted when they came in.
You must have the grace and patience to wait ingrained for if customers feel you are in a huff, you may lose both your temper and the sale; both of which you can control.