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One Rude Employee Can Cost a Business Big Money

April 5, 2017

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Even though temperatures are still chilly, it may be time for a Spring cleaning. These are challenging times and the domino effect of the economic downturn is hurting every industry. Businesses continue to lay off off record numbers of employees.

But are the right employees heading out the doors?

A rude customer service rep greeted me when I called my airline to report that 2,800 miles I had earned on a recent trip had not been credited to my frequent flyer account. She said she could only give me the miles if I provided her with my ticket number. I explained that I no longer had my ticket because the flight attendant at the airport had assured me that the miles had been credited to my account. Her reply? “Well, that’s your problem, not mine. You’ll just have to call your travel agent and get the ticket numbers. Then you can call back and start over.”

The next day I contacted the airline’s frequent flyer customer service department. This time, I was greeted by a warm, friendly employee, who proved to be extremely helpful. I happened to mention the negative experience I had with the other rep. She apologized and asked if I knew the rep’s name. I said it was Kayla.  My comment was greeted with silence, then a loud sigh. She said, ‘Ah yes. Kayla tends to rub our customers the wrong way. You’re not the first person who’s complained about her. Everyone else in our department is so nice and we really care about our customers, but her attitude makes us all look bad.’

Do you have a certain co-worker who always seems to get away with doing the minimum amount of effort each day while the other employees are working hard? Do you find yourself apologizing to customers because of the way a particular employee handled their service requests?

In their book, How Full is Your Bucket, Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton write: “It is possible for just one or two people to poison an entire workplace. And managers who have tried moving negative people to other departments to alleviate the problem know that ‘location, location, location’ doesn’t apply to these people; they bring their negativity along with them wherever they go. Negative employees can tear through a workplace like a hurricane racing through a coastal town.”

The cost of a rude employee can be measured in five ways.

When customers and co-workers have attached a negative attitude label to a specific employee, it is time to evaluate that employee’s cost to the organization. Consider how the following can impact your organization’s bottom line:

  1. Cost of losing an angry customer
  2. Cost of wasting time with re-work caused by the employee’s refusal to handle the service properly the first time
  3. Cost of replacing good employees who leave because they don’t want to work with this negative employee
  4. Cost of negative word-of-mouth advertising
  5. Cost of time wasted by managers trying to fix the employee’s attitude

It’s been said,skunk and cat that a rude employee is like a skunk in a field full of cats. They may look like the others but their negative attitude makes their service stink. Not only that, the behaviors of one employee can give customers the impression that the whole department and even the company stinks.

Sixty-eight percent of customers leave because of an attitude of indifference by a single employee. Take a look at your field of great employees. Are any skunks hiding there? How much damage are they doing to your co-worker and customer relationships? Are they worth it?

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