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Don't criticize your employees in front of consumers: It's bad for business

Date:
February 17, 2010
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
When employees are rude to one another, it creates a negative impression that affects consumer judgments of the company, according to new study.

When employees are rude to one another, it creates a negative impression that affects consumer judgments of the company, according to new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Authors Christine Porath, Debbie MacInnis, and Valerie Folkes (all University of Southern California) conducted several studies of employee-employee incivility and found that consumers frequently witnessed incidents of employees behaving badly toward each other.

"Employee incivility was reported across a variety of industries, including restaurants, banks, government offices, gyms, retail stores, universities, airlines, and entertainment venues," the authors write. "Approximately 40 percent reported witnessing an act of employee incivility at least once per month."

Across four studies, the authors found that consumers witnessing acts of employee incivility among employees is extremely detrimental to companies. "It induces consumer anger and causes consumers to make broad and negative conclusions (generalizations) about the firm as a whole, other employees who work there, and expectations about future encounters with the firm; conclusions that go well beyond the uncivil incident."

Surprisingly, these negative responses extended even to cases when the uncivil employee was trying to help the customer by rectifying a delay in service delivery.

The authors suggest ways for corporations to promote employee civility. "Several methods include selecting for and training in civility, setting zero-tolerance expectations, and reprimanding incivility before it festers," the authors write.

"Our findings suggest one reason why training in the treatment of customers and employees enhances the bottom line -- because of its impact on customer behavior," the authors conclude.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Christine Porath, Debbie MacInnis, and Valerie Folkes. Witnessing Incivility among Employees: Effects on Consumer Anger and Negative Inferences about Companies. Journal of Consumer Research, August 2010

Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "Don't criticize your employees in front of consumers: It's bad for business." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100217114642.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2010, February 17). Don't criticize your employees in front of consumers: It's bad for business. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100217114642.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "Don't criticize your employees in front of consumers: It's bad for business." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100217114642.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

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