New Yorkers are known for having remarkably little patience for rude or incompetent service. It's a highly competitive city, after all. But there's another quality that might irk them even more: Witnessing employees being openly rude to each other. When I see this I feel uncomfortable, awkward, and frankly not that impressed with the business I’m patronizing.
Four separate studies published in the August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research provide some scientific evidence along these lines. Nearly 60 to 120 subjects were placed in various situations where they witnessed inter-employee rudeness as well as employee incompetence. And the researchers found that employee rudeness had a significantly greater impact on subjects' overall opinion of the company than bad service.
In one study an employee reprimands his colleague who is gossiping on the phone with this: “Get off the phone you idiot!” Even such customer-oriented salespeople were found to lose all respect from customers for having barked at a co-worker.
The studies confirm that witnessing an uncivil argument between two employees leaves a bad taste that goes well beyond the individual incident. Customers tend to generalize their newfound negative opinion to the entire organization, its employees and any future interactions with it. So serve it with a smile, please, for those in front of the counter and behind it.