Monday, February 8, 2010

"No Problem" is a Problem!!

Language exerts hidden power, like the moon on the tides.

~Rita Mae Brown
Whenever your staff communicates with current or potential customers, the words they use have a considerable impact. Customers judge your business by their first impressions, and how effectively your staff communicates plays a large role in influencing these opinions. When interacting with customers, it is critical that your staff communicates in ways that neither offend nor leave anything less than a professional image of your business. I just do not think that you can underestimate the importance of communications between your staff and your customers.

Frequently, Generation Y and so many others use the expression, “No problem,” to mean, “You are welcome.” However, many, many folks are put off by this expression, and I believe the reason for this is that it invalidates the comments that precede it. Furthermore, it is just not very professional.

My wife and I went to a very nice restaurant with another couple, and we had absolutely great service from a very attentive server. He did not hover around the table, but he was there when we needed him. At the end of the meal, I told the server what a great job he had done, and you guessed it, the next words out of his mouth were, “No problem.” I felt that these words nullified every nice thing I had just said to him.

“No problem” responses are very often the subject of the many speeches I give, and Sam Varn, owner of Awards4U in Tallahassee, has just put into place a very novel fix to this problem. In his showroom, he now has a sign that says, “’No Problem’ is a problem” which is viewable by both customers and staff. The message continues on to say that he wants his staff to be courteous, friendly and offer the best customer service possible. Additionally, the sign says that if his staff uses the phrase, “No problem,” with any customer, he will pay that customer five dollars. Obviously, Sam does not want to pay out a large sum of money, but it is more important to him that his staff and his customers know that words matter and the phrase, “No problem,” is not acceptable.

One other restaurant chain that so evidently understands that words have meaning is Chick-fil-A. Every single time I visit one of these restaurants, I hear, “It was a pleasure to serve you.” Never do I hear, “No problem.” Obviously, Chick-fil-A understands how critical communications are between employees and customers, and as a result, they train their workers about using correct language.

Now go out and make sure that your staff is communicating effectively. You can do this by listening in to their conversations or by devising your own novel approach to ensure that good communications are always in place.

You can do this!

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