Hello, my name is Brent Reser and I have not uttered the words, “No problem!” for three years.
This past weekend, I ripped past my Friday the 13th Life’s Little Instruction page to see the latest one pictured below. It immediately made me smile and think about the customer service training I have received since arriving at CCU almost four years ago.
Some people might be shocked to hear this (I know I was at first), but cheerfully telling someone “no problem” is frowned upon in the customer service world. Luckily, thanks to the Feel the Teal program at Coastal Carolina University, I have refrained from saying this troublesome phrase for the past few trips around the sun. “No problem” didn’t evaporate from my lexicon immediately, but the more I tried my best not to use it and the more I realized how bad the phrase actually is, it eventually stopped slipping off my tongue.
When someone says “no problem,” it insinuates that there is/was a problem. When someone expresses their gratitude to you, it doesn’t make sense to respond by saying something that doesn’t convey any sort of warmth or sentiment.
At best, “no problem” means nothing. How is it acknowledging what someone said to you?
This of course brings us to the preferred response when someone offers thanks. At CCU and thousands of other places where customer service is valued, the response “my pleasure” is encouraged. Although some people might immediately think of chicken sandwiches when you say it, the phrase is starting to lose its Chick-fil-A association and be recognized simply as the polite and proper way to acknowledge someone’s gratitude.
When you say “my pleasure,” it conveys a feeling inside of you. It lets the person know that the act or service performed was at your humble discretion. It is much more personal than a meaningless “no problem.”
My Life’s Little Instruction post generated a lot of interaction. Some people endorsed the advice right away while some wondered about alternatives (remember, always use my pleasure!). Please note, I never judge anyone who utters “no problem”. I understand that it is a common phrase in our culture and that not everyone associates a negative connotation with it. To some, “my pleasure” sounds too over the top. I get it.
But for those of us working in the customer service world, I think it is important to respond in a thoughtful way. Perhaps as a society we aren’t at the point where we automatically respond with “my pleasure” when we buy a friend a drink or lend someone a couple quarters for the vending machine. However, in a customer service setting, I think we can always respond in a way that is modern and appropriate. Don’t Blink.