NEW YORK (MainStreet) — If it feels like retail employees are rude to you on a regular basis, you’re certainly not alone.

More than a third of consumers say they experience rude customer service at least once a month, according to a study in the most recent issue of the Journal of Service Research, and being on the receiving end of this behavior makes those customers angry and less interested in doing business with the retailer in the future. To make matters worse for the retailer, more than half of those who experience rudeness tell their friends and co-workers about the incident (58% and 55%, respectively).

It’s not just the rudeness customers experience firsthand that has the potential to tar a company’s reputation. Researchers also found that half of those surveyed witnessed one employee be rude to another at a store at least once a month, and the vast majority of those customers who did (92%) ended up speaking negatively about the company to either friends, family, co-workers or pretty much anyone who would listen.

Rude behavior, or “incivility” as the researchers refer to it, is defined in the report as encompassing any incident where workers are perceived as being insensitive or disrespectful to someone else. The researchers conducted three separate studies surveying a total of 244 students to find how often they experienced a store worker being rude to them, to a fellow employee or to another customer in their presence, and how the students reacted to each situation.

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Restaurants proved to have the highest frequency of rude encounters in each of these categories, with 83% of respondents saying a restaurant employee was rude to them at some point and the same percentage saying they witnessed one restaurant employee be rude to another. Gyms, on the other hand, ranked the best in each category, with just 10% of respondents experiencing rude behavior firsthand.

Based on these findings, the researchers prescribe a two-fold solution for stores to crack down on rude behavior and limit the fallout from those situations where a customer witnesses incivility.

First, the researchers argue that stores should focus on training employees to be better at conflict resolution and “dealing with difficult people”. The researchers also propose that stores train managers to be better at spotting situations in which something looks like it’s going wrong with a customer. When an employee is rude to a customer, the researchers find that the best way to fix the situation is for both the manager and the employee to apologize cordially in front of the customer.

If you’re tired of dealing with rude employees, check out MainStreet’s roundup of the 10 best stores for customer service.

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