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Rude employees mean loss of business

It seems logical that every employee would purpose to show respect and courtesy to customers. For any business, lack of politeness can actually detract from the bottom line. Moreover, it’s not just about respect for the customers. Surprisingly, it also involves employees being rude to fellow employees.

Does incivility seem to be on the rise? We sure see it woven into many TV sit-coms and we laugh at it. A Hollywood star is big on the 6 p.m. news after using Twitter to mock a flight attendant for doing her job. We call a help line, reach someone in India who, rather than offering to solve our problem, tersely says we should handle it online. Not to mention, of course, the incredible incivility of national politics these days!

A recent study cited in BusinessNewsDaily found that 65 percent of 1,000 adults surveyed said they considered incivility a major problem; 55 percent believed incivility in America would only get worse over the next few years (that’s up from 39 percent the previous year); and 78 percent said that civility training should be offered in schools. The online survey was conducted by Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate with KRC Research last May.

More to the point, 69 percent of the respondents said that if they encounter rude or uncivil behavior, they’d go somewhere else. And, here’s a business back-breaker: nearly 60 percent said they would be sure to spread the word on the rude behavior experienced at the business. Ouch! With today’s Internet, Facebook, Twitter, etc., it’s no idle threat.

Also on point, employee-to-employee rudeness can be a problem. Businesses are negatively affected by incivility within their own ranks. And, it’s likely a contributing factor to the incivility toward customers. The research found 43 percent said they’ve experienced uncivil acts at work, and 38 percent believed the workplace is becoming increasingly disrespectful.

Christine Porath, a professor of management at Georgetown University, told BusinessNewsDaily that studies show when employees are rude to each other, customers are less likely to do repeat business. The finding holds true even if the rude behavior involves a supervisor reprimanding an underling for treating customers badly. “Even when the first person was being rude to a customer, customers didn’t like seeing a manager treat that employee badly,” Porath explained.

As a result of the apparent trend toward incivility, 67 percent of those surveyed said there is a need for civility training in the workplace. “The findings underscore the need to promote employee civility and train employees to treat one another well,” Porath said.

Lastly, rudeness can even trump incompetence! Respondents indicated they were much more likely to have negative feelings about a company after encountering a rude employee than an incompetent one.

“It’s important for leaders to look at what is the norm within the organization and set zero tolerance expectations for rudeness,” advises Porath.


8 comments on “Rude employees mean loss of business

  1. Brenda Fletcher

    With a career spanning 30+ years in marketing, I am appalled at the number of people that are rude not only to customers, but to business colleagues in the presence of their customers/clients. I recently witnessed a retail manager in the marine industry loudly and rudely reprimand an employee in front of a group of customers for a very minor error. It was not a correction of procedure, but a rant by a bully in front of an audience. The employee was so embarrassed and seemed to be on the verge of tears.

    I took my purchases to the offensive manager, gave them to him with directions to where he could stick them, and told him I would not support any organization that employed such people with deficient management skills. I then posted a comment on the company Facebook page and have been very verbal about the experience. My feelings are to ignore these types of behavior is to condone it.

    That one experience most likely countered thousands of dollars of advertising to get customers in the store. I know if one of my employees ever talked to a customer like that, they would be fired on the spot.

  2. floridafishfinder

    “…78 percent said that civility training should be offered in schools.” They used to teach civility in schools, it was taken out by the ACLU and the Federal Courts. It is called THE BIBLE and PRAYER.

  3. JR Goodman

    This is such a pet peeve with me.

    The sad truth is, the way we have raised the youth of yesterday is long gone, along with the traditional values and mutual respect for each other. Today if you don’t like someone or something with 1 click you “de friend them.”

    Business today struggles with finding employees that know common courtesy rules and what does make a business successful. In my view, HR plays too much of a role, of finding the right fit, versus finding the right employee. Many times there has been a clash in management and human resources of who is the right candidate and the HR dept usually wins out. Then we spend too much time with the personality tests and you if you fail there, though they tell you there is no pass or fail, you will not move further through the process. The ironic thing is the tests never usually have nothing to do with the position you are being interviewed for.

    Here is my solution. There is a real easy way to look through resumes and the obvious ones that are not right usually are easy to spot. But when I see a good background, sometimes I see a poorly written resume. I still want to talk with the person. I want to talk to as many potential employees as I can, because I believe if they took they time to answer my ad, they must feel there is a connection. The advertisement should also mention social skills and courtesy skills. Nowadays online ads are almost free; so go to town with what you are looking for. Skip the personality tests. They don’t work. I see policemen breaking the law, coaches abusing kids, politicians doing everything but their job and most went through the ranks of a background and personality tests, yet they end up failing are the position hired for. Nothing beats good ole fashion intuition. It is what we founded this country on, in many of the skills that put America on top. We did not have HR people, we did not have personality tests, we had interviews. Personally, HR people need to go back to what they used to do, help with benefits and issues at the work place, and let management do their job. That’s how to deal with hiring.

    Back at home, we need to get some of those traditional ideals back on raising the youngsters of tomorrow and learn how to incorporate tech sites into the upbringing so they understand the difference between real friends and Internet friends. Instill morals and honesty.

    Lastly employers, you need to have training on proper customer service and how to deal with customers and their expectations when they come on to property to do business with you. I see some many empty buildings today and dreams that have floated away with a closed business. If we don’t do something, Mom & Pop stores will be a thing for history books to write about as they to will be a thing of the past.

  4. Banjoman

    Civility generally starts in the home. If a child is reared by a parent who lacks civility, that same child will, most certainly, be uncivil in society. As a person who has attended many such classes on this topic as well as diversity in the workplace, this type of training will only go so far in changing the instilled or ingrained attitudes. I have worked for managers who were rude and I have managed rude employees. Heavy discussions and out-and-out reprimanding seemed to work but usually it is a temporary fix. If the problem generated complaints, I would try moving the employee to a work environment whereby no customer contact was initiated. I know this isn’t always possible but a manager should NEVER allow a rude employee to drive profit out the door! I see a great deal of this at marina’s, both the shops and the docks. However, the vast majority of folks I deal with whether in a professional manner or in a personal manner are wonderful people who truly want to offer good service. Otherwise, I simply take my business elsewhere.

  5. AnonymousBob

    To Brenda Fletcher:
    Bravo to you for calling out the manager!

    To “floridafishfinder”:
    All I have to ask is: whose bible?! pray to whom?!

    The teaching of civility begins at home. It requires parents to be parents – not their kid’s best friend. All too often, parents say they want to “give their kids what they didn’t have”. That is really code for, “my Mom/Dad made me do chores and I hated it”. The parents then proceed to spoil their kids. That’s why sports leagues have trophies for first place, second place, and even last place. All to keep from bruising a kid’s self-esteem. The result is that we encounter boorish behavior everywhere because people are spoiled and selfish. It all begins at home.

  6. Rog

    I note the usual list of excuses above for why people aren’t civil at work. The real reason is lousy management. If a new employee was told that being civil to customers and fellow employees was one of the key job requirements and they would be fired if they couldn’t do that part of the job, civility would very quickly return to the work place.

  7. floridafishfinder

    AnonymousBob: The same Bible our forefathers referenced so many times in our founding documents, buildings, and monuments. In this country you are free to pray to WHOMEVER. It is freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion.

    Guess I’m just another “Old Guy”:

    Old People are easy to spot at sporting events; during the playing of the National Anthem. Old People remove their caps and stand at attention and sing without embarrassment. They know the words and believe in them. Old People remember World War II, Pearl Harbor , Guadalcanal , Normandy and Hitler. They remember the Atomic Age, the Korean War, The Cold War, the Jet Age and the Moon Landing. They remember the 50 plus Peacekeeping Missions from 1945 to 2005, not to mention Vietnam . If you bump into an Old People on the sidewalk he will apologize. If you pass an Old Person on the street, he will nod or tip his cap to a lady. Old People trust strangers and are courtly to women. Old People hold the door for the next person and always, when walking, make certain the lady is on the inside for protection. Old People get embarrassed if someone curses in front of women and children and they don’t like any filth or dirty language on TV or in movies. Old People have moral courage and personal integrity. They seldom brag unless it’s about their children or grandchildren. It’s the Old People who know our great country is protected, not by politicians, but by the young men and women in the military serving their country.


  8. boatchat

    floridafishfinder wrote: December 14th, 2011 at 11:10 am Guess I’m just another “Old Guy”:

    florida fish finder, we are a dying breed for sure. I am 50, so I still think of myself as the young guy, but we are slowly losing the core values of what made this country great. Everyday I think of running for office, because I know I can make a difference and then a report came out today, which said our senate polictians avg income if $700,000 a year and has gone up, even in this economy, and the avg citizen of the US as gone down. They are out of touch, as are most owners and managers and I know I wont stand a chance. Bring Back Ross Perot 1 time, or even Trump I would take a gamble on. It is a sad world we live in today.

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