“No problem” is a big problem for small business

It has happened to all of us: You are being waited on at a restaurant, buying a product or returning something to a merchant, and as an employee is delivering some kind of service you say, “Thank you.”

Good for you; your mother would be so proud. But she wouldn’t be impressed by what has become an unfortunate response to “thank you.”

After you say “thank you” for having your water refilled or your order completed, there is an excellent chance the employee will say, incredibly, “No problem.”

So, from this response, are you now to think that simply allowing service to be delivered is some sort of a problem you’ve created, from which you should pray adobe acrobat x pro forgiveness will be granted? Should you feel relief that you’ve been redeemed by this person with “no problem” absolution?

Clearly, American English has deviated to a level that makes many feel nostalgic for casual. And it’s difficult to pinpoint where things ran off of the rails, but somehow the sublime “it’s my pleasure” has devolved into the sub par “no problem.”

Well, my friends, let’s get one thing straight: No problem is a problem. When small business employees say “no problem” to a customer instead of “you’re welcome,” it’s a serious problem that, over time, could be the equivalent of a business death wish.

Think I’m overreacting? How much money do you spend getting a customer to do business with you? How much energy and resources do you invest into making sure your products, pricing, display, etc., are just right? How many sleepless nights do you spend worrying about how to compete with the Big Boxes?

Now that we’ve established the enormity of these answers, have you checked to make sure that no employee of yours ever causes one of your customers to think - even subliminally - that the mere fact that they are doing business with you could be some kind of a problem?

The only thing that is unique about the contact your business has with a customer is the experience they have with you - how they FEEL about doing business with you. Everything else is a commodity. Everything! So in what universe does “no problem” help your business maximize the positive emotions of a wonderful customer experience? Stop saying it, and train your employees to stop saying it.

There must be 39 different ways in English to express your delight in serving a customer without saying “no problem.” Use one of them.

Recently, I discussed the issue of “No Problem” being a big problem on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen, and be sure to leave your thoughts. Listen Live! Download, Too!

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