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Rude Employees Cost Businesses More Than They Know


It’s a no-brainer that bad customer service will cost you business. But it turns out employees’ behavior toward each other can affect your bottom line, too.

When employees are rude to each other, customers are less likely to do repeat business with the company, a new study reveals. Surprisingly, 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,” said one of the study’s researchers, Christine Porath, Georgetown University professor of management.

Customers reported they were much more likely to have negative feelings about a company after encountering a rude employee than an incompetent one.

Even pre-conceived positive impressions about the company were not enough to sooth the irritation caused by the bad behavior, the study found. Regardless of what customers thought of the company before, experiencing rude behavior made them much less likely to do business with the company again.

“The findings underscore the need to promote employee civility and train employees to treat one another well,” Porath told BusinessNewsDaily.

And before you go blaming your employees for their bad behavior, you might want to do a little self analysis.

“We asked employees why they were rude and more than a quarter blamed leadership,” Porath said. “Another quarter blamed lack of training. It’s important for leaders to look at what is the norm within the organization and set zero tolerance expectations for rudeness.”

And, when you catch an employee being rude, it’s important to nip the behavior in bud, Porath said.


Jeanette Mulvey

Jeanette has been writing about business for more than 20 years. She has written about every kind of entrepreneur from hardware store owners to fashion designers. Previously she was a manager of internal communications for Home Depot. Her journalism career began in local newspapers. She has a degree in American Studies from Rutgers University. Follow her on Twitter @jeanettebnd.