Study: Rude workers hurt bottom line

Sept. 25, 2011 at 2:12 AM
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LOS ANGELES, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- Insensitive, disrespectful or rude behavior by employees is rampant in U.S. workplaces, but researchers say consumers don't report them, they shop elsewhere.

Researchers at the University of Southern California and Georgetown University found about one-third of consumers surveyed reported they're treated rudely by an employee an average of once a month and that these and other episodes of uncivil worker behavior make them less likely to patronize those businesses.

The study, published in the the Journal of Service Research, found customers rarely report such behavior to employee supervisors -- ensuring a relentless cycle of poor employee behavior that leaves consumers angry and frustrated. The businesses lose customer loyalty, return business and profits, the study said.

The research team surveyed 244 consumers and found incivility is widespread, with consumers recalling incidents involving an uncivil employee in many industries, but particularly in restaurants and retailing.

The study, published in the Journal of Service Research, found uncivil outbursts, as well as rude behavior directed at customers and other employees were in some cases witnessed once a month by approximately one-third of the survey participants.

Study co-authors, Christine Porath of Georgetown University and Debbie MacInnis and Valerie S. Folkes, both professors of business administration and marketing at the University of Southern California, said managers may not be aware of how frequently their customers witness an employee behaving uncivilly because consumers seldom report the behavior to employers, but most went home and told friends and family members about the incident.

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