Customer service is something I think about a lot. All businesses and professionals should. To that point, how you say something can be just as important as what you say.
Chick-Fil-A, a top national restaurant chain in the US, has the standard for their employees to respond to customers’ thank-yous by saying “my pleasure”. Personally, I really appreciate this. Another case is with a small local grocer called Brookshire’s. Their training manual instructs employees to acknowledge customers’ thanks by saying “happy to help”. In almost any similar situation, a simple “you’re welcome” will do nicely.
Conversely, there is something that really annoys me when, after I say “thank you” to an employee somewhere, they reply with “no problem”. It might sound like I am being picky, but let me tell you why I feel this way. Basically I see it as an immature response, as well as potentially a lack of corporate training. (Just as irksome is when your expression is entirely ignored by the employee after thanking them).
Familiarity breeds contempt
No problem translates to “taking care of your needs was convenient enough for me this time, but at some point it might be more trouble than you are worth.”
However, “my pleasure”, “happy to help”, and “you’re welcome”, are acknowledgements which intentionally express appreciation to the thanker. They say, “I am glad to be of service – you are the reason I am here.”
The good news is that it can be taught to those willing to learn.
Beyond Customer Service
This etiquette rightly extends into any context beyond customer service, including with friends and family, and in the office with co-workers. As a consultant, I work closely with all sorts of other professionals at all levels in the organization. Regardless of whether it is my boss, my subordinate, a QA tester, the CEO, or the administrative assistant, I endeavor to always practice the utmost courtesy and professionalism.
In such a competitive jobs environment as today’s, it is always best to be the one recognized for going above and beyond – to be welcome instead of just no problem.