Can you say "You're welcome"?
A few nights ago, my wife, Donna Lee, and I went out to a casual dining, family restaurant for dinner. We were greeted by a cute young lady who gave us a warm, friendly scripted greeting. After directing us to our table, I thanked her. She said, "No problem." She then went through a professionally scripted, bubbly presentation of their menu. I thanked her when she finished. She said, "No problem." She asked what we wanted to drink. "Iced tea and my wife would like water with no ice." "No problem." Are you seeing a pattern here? Every time she did something for us, I said, "Thank you," and without exception, her reply was, "No problem." I said to my wife, "Something has happened in our society. I don't know quite when it started. It is pervasive." Much of the time with servers in many kinds of business, when I say "Thank you" or I ask them to do some little thing, their response is "No problem." The idea of "I'm glad to," "I'll be glad to," "I'm pleased to," "You're welcome," or "It's my privilege" seems to have vanished from our vocabularies. Instead of saying "It's my pleasure," we hear "No problem." Someone needs to do something quick!
Another communication misdirection I have observed over the last few years is customers in fast food restaurants. When they get up to the front of the line, the counterperson says, "May I help you?" or "What would you like?", and they respond by saying, "Can I have . . .?" rather than "I'd like . . . . . ." Donna Lee said, "Well, maybe they're asking for something special." They're not. They're simply asking for something on the regular menu. Why don't they say, 'I would like'?" Of course you can have, but what would you like? I
don't know how or where these convoluted ways of communicating started. In my view, they need to stop!
"Can I have?" is okay if people want to go around sort of pleading for what they want instead of simply saying "I would like." This behavior won't affect your customer service. If you have associates in your organization who respond to customers under any circumstance by saying, "No problem," today is the day to put a stop to it. Get your team together, talk about the implications of a "no problem" response. Then make a game of solving the problem. Start charging a quarter every time they say "No problem." Put their 25 cents in a container. One of our clients years ago asked their counterpersons who used profanity to put a quarter in a can. Then they used the money for their annual company picnic prizes. You could give the collection to a charity of your team's choice.
What it comes down to is thinking before engaging the tongue, thinking before you speak. It's always a good idea to ask ourselves, "Are these words conveying the true message I wish to send? Is there a better way for me to express the idea, a more professional way to help my listener understand my true intention?"
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