Bad manners are bad for business

People miss meetings or show up very late. They take phone calls or let people walk into the middle of scheduled meetings. They don’t return phone calls. The list goes on. We all deal with these annoying behaviors as we do our jobs and manage our businesses.

I did some research on Google and I discovered I’m not the only one who pays attention to these things. Others are indeed bothered by bad manners. You can buy a book, take a class or even hire a consultant to help you address the problem of bad manners in your business.

According to one study I found (and many informal opinions), a lot of people these days simply do not understand the difference between good and bad manners.

I don’t believe that for a second.

The next time someone does something you consider rude, ask them about it. Not that you have to create a scene, just ask them why they did it. Most will apologize and get a guilty look in their face. I’ve done this and it never fails. People know when they’re behaving badly.

The problem is not lack of awareness. The problem is focus. People get too focused on themselves and their needs to notice or care how badly they are behaving.

Another easy way to prove this is watch how people treat others differently, based on who they are. As a person who has done a lot of selling, I’ve seen this plenty. Some people will go on and on about how great their customer service is. They go overboard for their customers. Then they turn around and treat employees, vendors and salespeople like second-class citizens.

If they didn’t know the difference, why would they treat people differently? They do know the difference. Their problem is they think it’s okay to treat people badly unless they’re trying to get something from them.

Bad manners will drive away existing customers. They will reduce the inflow of new customers. Bad manners will increase employee turnover while reducing employee performance. Rude behavior makes the workplace a lot less fun and this diminishes employee morale.

A survey done by Eticon, Inc. says 37% of customers would take their business elsewhere if they were confronted with rude or disrespectful service. The survey also found 14.3% of employee time is spent dealing with issues related to rudeness.

Even more important to your business is how people respond to good behavior (defined as being respectful and courteous).

As customers, 51% of people surveyed would do more business with a company where they are treated with respect and courtesy. And they said they would tell others about the company. Up to 64% said they would reciprocate the courtesy and would become easier to deal with, thus making life on the job more fun for employees.

Employees reported similar responses, all of which would contribute to a workplace that is more enjoyable for employees and customers.

But we really don’t need surveys and research to know that bad manners are bad for business. Let’s face it. We call them bad manners because they’re bad.

We all know how lousy it feels when someone is rude or inconsiderate to us. And we know how good it feels when someone is cheerful, honest, accountable, courteous or polite.

The important thing is to remember that rude behavior and bad manners happen every day in many businesses. It drives away customers. So, take an honest look at your business and ask yourself if there is room for improvement in this area. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to keep your customers coming back for more.