Study Shows Frontline Service Stress Can Lead to Revenge Behavior

Study Shows Frontline Service Stress Can Lead to Revenge BehaviorChances are you’ve heard that awful old joke about the waiter slipping an illicit ingredient into the salad dressing of a customer who’s pissed him off. No? Well, listen up anyway. A just-released study from Baylor University’s Hamkamer School of Business is replete with statistical proof of why it pays to be nice to your server: If you aren’t, there’s a good chance he or she will exact revenge.

The Baylor team set out to measure what it calls “customer-directed CWB” – counterproductive work behavior, otherwise defined as the stuff that servers do to get back at customers who are asking for it. The school’s researchers distributed anonymous questionnaires to 438 servers working in restaurants or bars in a large, unnamed city in the Southwest. The results are enough to blow the foam off your beer.

Fourteen percent of servers admitted that they’d directly insulted difficult guests, and 11 percent had secretly increased their tips without the customer’s knowledge. Worse, 5 percent directly threatened a customer who’d mistreated them and 6 percent said they’d “contaminated” a customer’s food. (The nature of those contaminants was unspecified, but take your pick.)

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