Businesses use signs for a variety of reasons. They’re used as advertising to entice customers to come on in. They offer guidance so people head in the right direction. They’re also posted to warn people about potential hazards.
I’ve written about signs a few times before. One post examined an unfriendly sign from a penny-pinching business that may have cost more money in lost customers. Another post had some fun with humorous signs posted in restrooms. I even wrote a post explaining why customers often don’t read signs.
Sometimes, signs warn customers that a service failure lies ahead. Here’s the signage I recently encountered outside a casual restaurant:
Would you want to eat here?
The rules themselves aren’t unreasonable, but these signs suggest the restaurant focuses more on making sure guests are well-behaved than providing a great experience.
Signs like this are often just the tip of the customer service iceberg. A closer look at this restaurant revealed other indicators that a service failure is likely to happen. Their rating on Yelp was 2.5 stars. Trip Advisor reviewers were a little more generous with a 3 average. They offered open air seating, so I was able to observe a server greeting a newly seated table. Her opening lines consisted of listing the items they were out of. No “Hello,” “How are you today?” or “Can I get you something to drink?” Just “Here’s what we don’t have.”
All of these signs encouraged me to find somewhere else to eat.
Fixing service quality at this restaurant will take more than just fixing the signs up front, but signs are a part of a business’s image. It’s hard to imagine a place that offered great service would choose to project an image like this restaurant did with their signs.
Here are a few questions you might ask if you want to look at your own signs:
- What do your signs tell customers about your business?
- Do your signs match the image you want to project?
- When rules are absolutely necessary, is there a friendlier way?