Un-welcome signs

I’m not sure that a Welcome mat in front of a business ever made anyone feel truly welcome, or a notation on a receipt saying that it has been someone’s pleasure to serve you has the power to overcome lackluster or indifferent service.

But I’ve seen plenty of signs in businesses that told me my business really wasn’t welcomed or appreciated.

Take a hamburger joint I used to frequent with some regularity. They make a great cheeseburger, but every time I approached the carry-out window, I was confronted with an array of handwritten signs that interfered with my appetite. “We don’t accept expired coupons, so check them BEFORE you come in!!!” read one. “EVERYTHING includes catsup, mustard, onion, mayo and tomato, so if you order EVERYTHING, THAT’S what your [sic] going to get!!!” said another.

Clearly, there was an employee who grew weary of being confronted with expired coupons and questioned as to why onions appeared on someone’s cheeseburger. Out of her sheer frustration, she crafted these signs, putting words in ALL CAPS and using multiple exclamation points so we’d know she was really serious!!!

And those signs set the tone for the service at the counter. At best, it was bored and indifferent. At worst, it was obvious that by placing an order, customers were ruining the employee’s day. The last time I stopped by at lunchtime, the counter was dead, and I’d wager that the business owner was struggling to understand why sales were down.

What do the signs on your door, at your counter, at the receptionist’s desk, or on your website tell current and prospective customers? Are you inadvertently setting the wrong tone?