Is incivility a root cause of service failure?

I'd like to share a not so radical idea.

Is it possible that the rude, self-absorbed behavior that many people display in public is one of the primary causes of poor customer service?

I recently ran a few errands around town and witnessed the following examples on my short trip:

  • A couple enjoying coffee and pastries at Starbucks left a huge mess behind when they got up to leave.
  • An aggressive driver cut off several cars in an attempt to beat them to a traffic light.
  • Another driver sped up in a parking lot rather than stop for pedestrians.
  • A customer at a car wash left his empty coffee cup on a bench when his car was ready.
  • A banking customer cut to the front of the line ahead of other people patiently waiting their turn.
  • A work truck ran a red light a narrowly missed running into several cars entering the intersection.

Some of these people assuredly work in jobs where they serve other people. If they behave selfishly, even dangerously, in a public setting can we really believe that they will be so different when helping customers? Maybe a little, but not much.

Most of my blog posts are action oriented and I try to provide a few tips you can use right away. This one is a little different, simply because I don't know the answer. Any ideas?