Mind your manners, corporate America

| January 7, 2014

America’s got 99 problems and incivility is one. An online survey by Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate reveals that American businesses rank poorly when it comes to treating customers right. Of the 1000 adults surveyed, 54 percent decided never to buy from a company after being treated discourteously, and 43 percent advised others not to buy products or services after experiencing rude behavior.

The survey also disclosed that customers face the most incivility from large domestic corporations (53 percent), while foreign businesses are uncivil 42 percent of the time, and small domestic businesses are more respectful with only 24 percent on the rudeness meter.

Incivility at workplace

Uncivil behavior hurts employees and business. From Workplace Psychology.

Bad manners hurt businesses’ sweet spot

Incivility in business can adversely affect a company’s market value, which is tied not only to its earnings but to its reputation as well.

A negative interaction with a customer can force a prized consumer demographic to walk out the door, taking a bunch of potential customers with it. This market segment includes younger consumers (under 50), parents of kids under 18, and high-income households that are most likely to hurt sales and give a bad rep to a business through word-of-mouth influence. Here, a bad customer experience could result from incivility between a company and its patrons or even rudeness among fellow customers.

Employee incivility drains company resources

Academy of Management reports that “incivility causes its targets, witnesses, and additional stakeholders to act in ways that erode organizational values and deplete organizational resources.”

Fortune 1000 executives spend nearly seven weeks every year resolving employee conflicts that stem from incivility, explains Christine Pearson and Christine Porath, authors of “The Cost of Bad Behavior.”

While it is obvious that bad behavior drives customers away from a business, it also slowly chews through the company’s foundation, leading to the business’s eventual collapse.

Companies that breed incivility create stress and low morale among employees who either quit their job or act out by mistreating customers. According to the Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate survey, 26 percent of Americans quit their jobs last year due to an uncivil workplace – a 30 percent increase from 2011.

Jennifer E. Swangberg, associate professor at the University of Kentucky and a researcher on work-life balance and work environment says, “Considering that employer turnover costs are typically estimated to be 1.5 to 2.5 times the salary paid for the job (or $50,000 on average per departing employee across U.S. industries and occupational classifications), the financial impacts of incivility mount up fast.”

To keep acompany’s reputation and customer base intact, management must ensure civility is part of the organization’s culture. Pearson and Porath remark, “Failure to keep tabs on behavior can allow incivility to creep into everyday interactions—and could cost your organization millions in lost employees, lost customers, and lost productivity.”

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Category: Office courtesy

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