The Rudeness Multiplier
Everyone has a bad day – but what can your employees’ irresponsible behavior toward customers actually cost you?
Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project
A few days ago, my 4-year-old daughter was so excited to go to her friend’s fifth birthday party, she was nearly out of her mind. “We’re like sisters,” she exclaimed. “We need matching Cinderella princess ballet dresses.”
What follows is a tale of wrongdoing on the part of nearly every adult involved in this folly (what exactly is a Cinderella princess ballet dress, anyway?):
1. I made the mistake of sending my accommodating – and that day, slightly less busy – other half on the errand, with my daughter. He arrived at the dance store, 10 minutes before closing time, a befuddled daddy completely unequipped to deal with the intricacies of 4-year-old necessities (the outfits must match precisely). In other words, I had sent him on a last-minute errand to my equivalent of an auto body shop – with an impossible-to-satisfy, weepy 4-year-old. Sorry.
2. Our lost daddy figure and child encountered an employee who was clearly disappointed that they’d arrived so close to closing time, because she wanted to get out of there, pronto. No, my daughter couldn’t try on the ballet dress 10 minutes before store closing, because “It’s against store policy.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve never heard of a store policy quite like this one. Her wrong.
3. Daddy lost his temper, but purchased the dresses anyway, since he didn’t want to come home empty-handed. He lodged a call to my cell phone within hearing distance of the disgruntled shop keep, noting that she had rushed him out and wouldn’t wait for him to confirm he purchased the right thing (his possible wrong). I told him to return it, because I wouldn’t patronize a store with rude employees. (I’m sure I’m justified here!)
4. Hearing our phone call, the employee told him that he couldn’t return the dress, the store was closed, it wasn’t her store anyway, and then proceeded to berate him (Clearly, clearly, her wrong.)
But this incident caused me to wonder what the owner of this store really loses by employing a rude person. In our case, it’s a relatively minimal $40 in two dresses. But add to that the lost income from me actively discouraging my friends with dance-obsessed daughters from shopping there, and it could add up to a fair amount.
In fact, a recent report by Accenture found that half of surveyed consumers said that they’d left at least one vendor because of poor service. Nearly 70 percent of those customers would have stayed loyal if a problem had been resolved with one call. But for business owners, here’s the disturbing multiplier effect of bad customer service: According to the report, the typical customer tells an average of 16 other people about a poor service experience, but only tells nine about the good ones. Add to that the fact that I could very easily start broadcasting my experience on social media networks, and the various media outlets at my disposal, and I could do plenty of damage. (In the name of responsibility to the owners who probably don’t sanction this kind of employee behavior, I’ll be handling it quietly.)
What would you do? Quietly go to the owner of the store, or let your experience be heard through social media without contacting the owner? Are you more compelled through social networking to provide positive or negative feedback to a situation? Weigh in.