How It Feels to Have to Carry Out a Mask Policy

Q “I work in public transportation, and we still have strict mask requirements. I’ve had customers snatch the complimentary mask out of my hand and throw it on the floor. A woman flipped me off and said something profane. Many customers don’t acknowledge me when I politely tell them to wear a mask. What advice can you give me for enforcing a mask requirement while getting the respect I deserve?”

A. My daughter worked in the mall during the pandemic, and she’s shared similar mask-shucking stories with me. Here’s the advice I gave my daughter.

Your employer must have a clear mask policy.

Without a clear mask policy, customers will take liberties, argue, and you’ll be frustrated. If your company doesn’t have a clear mask policy, send them a link to this post because I’m about to spell it out for them.

Post signage at each entry point and on your website that is as clear as what I used to see on doors at gas stations and convenience stores:

“No shirt. No shoes. No service.”

Make the mask policy this clear:

“No mask, no service.”

You can be more polite, though. As in:

“We require all un-vaccinated customers to wear masks.”

Or

“To protect yourself and others, particularly at-risk customers, we require un-vaccinated customers to wear masks for entry.”

When your mask policy is clear and visible on your website, storefront, and throughout the bus, train, or plane, it’s a bit easier for you to enforce the policy.

You’ll want to use the exact phrasing your company uses. Here’s how I’d do it.

“Do you happen to have a mask? To protect yourself and others, particularly at-risk customers, we require masks for entry.”

I wish you success and ease as you represent your company on the front lines. Thanks for trusting me with your question. 

Continue the Conversation with Me?

For more help with challenging situations, check out my De-escalation Academy. De-escalation Academy is the only training for customer service that not only shows your employees how to redirect verbal aggression and regain control of interactions – but how to get customers to accept their word as final. 

Get Started with De-escalation.