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How to Find Rude Salespeople

Want a customer service employee who will drive you completely stark-raving nuts with their rude behavior?
Go with the candidate with the best credit score.

That is the conclusion of Jeremy Bernerth; LSU Assistant Professor in the E. J. Ourso College of Business Daniel Whitman; Shannon Taylor of Northern Illinois University; and H. Jack Walker of Texas Tech University in a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

You want a jerk of a customer service rep who will drive away customers?   Hire the guy or gal with a great credit score.   Want an effective, warm communicator whom your customers will love?  You got it.  The one with the so-so credit score.

Here’s what led the researchers to this conclusion:  "With regards to personality and credit -- it makes sense that conscientiousness is related to good credit, but what was really interesting was that agreeableness was negatively related to your credit score," said Jeremy Bernerth.   "That suggests easy-going individuals actually have worse credit scores than disagreeable and rude individuals.  Agreeable individuals might get themselves in trouble by co-signing loans for friends or family or taking out additional credit cards at the suggestion of store clerks."

People with poor credit scores tend to be people pleasers, exactly the sort of employee you want in customer service.
“The researchers found no correlation between poor credit scores and bad behavior on the job.”
But wait, there’s more:  contrary to what 60% of all employers who use credit scores think, the researchers found no correlation between poor credit scores and bad behavior on the job. 
"It was telling that poor credit scores are not correlated to theft and other deviant work behaviors," said Bernerth. "Most companies attempt to justify the use of credit scores because they think such employees will end up stealing, but our research suggests that is not the case."
The researcher’s conclusion: rude people have better credit scores.

So if you want a rude customer service rep, hire the applicant with the good credit score. They'll rob you blind by driving away paying customers.

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The more you know about small business management and financing before you start, the more likely you are to succeed.  That's why I urge anyone thinking of starting a business to contact their local Small Business Development Center or Community College.  I have also organized this bookshelf for you at Powell's Books, the world's largest single site new and used bookstore, featuring the latest books on small business start-ups, marketing, and small business money management.   
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Story Source:  Bernerth, Jeremy B.; Taylor, Shannon G.; Walker, H. Jack; Whitman, Daniel S. An empirical investigation of dispositional antecedents andperformance-related outcomes of credit scores.. Journal of Applied Psychology, Oct 24, 2011


  1. Rude salespeople. This idea shouldn’t even exist if you ask me. Salespeople must be warm communicators who are patient with the consumer’s needs and concerns. They are skilled and professional individuals who hold authority in their products and services while making sure they address their client’s needs. But can one’s credit score really determine how well he is as a salesperson? I wonder about this.

    Guillermina Falkowski

  2. If you follow the author's logic in their study, it does make sense. Warm, open communicators, at least according to this study, tend to make poor credit decisions. As always, these are thinking points for small business owners who make hiring decisions. A single "bad apple" in the public eye can do much damage to the local reputation of a small business, so hiring is a serious decision that can have major impact on the business. ~ Jim


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