“No Problem” is a Customer Service Problem

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Mar 20, 2009 by Elaine Buxton

A recent experience in Orlando International Airport clearly reminded me why the phrase “no problem” could easily be associated with the phrase “no service.’

I had just placed an order at a quick service restaurant, and was handed my order in a bag, along with a cup to fill at a self-service station. At this point in the transaction, I said, “Thank you.” The efficient employee then said, “No problem.”

No problem. It is not a meaningless phrase. “No problem” implies that you did not cause a problem. As a customer of this quick service restaurant, was I expected to cause a problem? Did the employee think I, in particular, might cause a problem? Is it a good thing that I did not cause one? Or was the employee somehow pleasantly surprised?

I took my drink cup, filled my beverage, and turned to walk toward the departure gate. Just a few steps ahead of me, four military service personnel were engaged in conversation. I watched as a civilian gentlemen walked over to the group, shook hands with each service member and said, “Thank you for your service to our country.” Three of them replied with “You’re welcome.” The fourth, interestingly, responded, “My pleasure, sir. Please enjoy the freedom we defend.” The difference was striking.

I would have appreciated the restaurant employee saying something to the effect of, “My pleasure,” yet I would have understood a quick “no problem” from the service members.
What does your staff say in response to a customer’s “thank you”? What would you rather hear in response to your own thanks: “no problem” or “my pleasure”?

Tagged: customer experience, elaine buxton, secret shopping, customer service, mystery shopper, confero, mystery shopping, secret shopper, quick service restaurant,

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