A Human Approach

“No Problem!”
What happened to “You’re welcome”, “My pleasure”, or “Anytime”?
From a business perspective, aren’t we thrilled when a customer or consumer has given us the opportunity to serve them? So much so that we would want to complete the give-receive equation with an appropriate response? If so, how did we land on “No problem”?
At the end of a transaction, when a service individual responds to my “Thank you” with a “No problem”, to me it would imply that my request to purchase their product or service was a problem in the first place; that I was putting them out. Is that the case?
I realize “No problem” is just a phrase, and certainly one that rolls off everyone’s tongue these days – perhaps not worth taking too seriously – but what would happen to our level of service if we decided to say something like, “I enjoyed serving you”, or “Thank YOU for visiting!”, or as my brother says, “Too easy.” (even after the most daunting of tasks).
Last week I was on the on the phone with the mortgage company and the CSR on the other end was asking me some fill-in-the-blank questions. With each answer I gave I got a “That’s no problem” in return. After six or seven questions I was beginning to wonder who the customer was. Every time I heard “problem” I thought, in some strange way, that I was imposing when in fact, I was the customer!
From a different perspective, with all the information and evidence to support that “we create what we think” I’m wondering what “no problem” is doing to our initiative and willingness to serve. Repeating the word “problem” has got to have some effect on our actions.
What if, for one week, we took a different route. After each time we completed a sale with a customer, and when they said “thank you” (they often do), we responded with “My pleasure”, would we believe after saying it several times in a week that it truly is our pleasure to serve? Or if we said, “Thanks for coming!” a hundred or so times, would we begin to welcome purchasers differently? What about, “I enjoyed working with you.” Would that change how we feel about our jobs and our exchange with our clients?
Here’s another thought. What if, after we heard “Thank you” we asked a question? A question like, “When is the next time we’ll see you?” or “Are you receiving our loyalty coupons?”, “May I ask your opinion on a change we’re thinking of making?” What opportunities are there to learn more about our customers by asking a question then listening and documenting the answers?
Just for fun one day I asked my customers, at the close of each transaction, “Would you like fries with that?” Obviously we’re not in the fast-food business and most of our business is transacted over the phone or on-line. You can imagine why most people paused, then laughed! What the question did was break a routine and make me more mindful that perhaps I could choose more empowering and engaging phrases.
After all, we can choose the words with which we communicate. Is “problem” our best choice?

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