Top

Does “No Problem” Belong on the Stop Words List?

Jeremy Watkin | Jul 11, 2017 114 views 5 Comments

Share on LinkedIn

This article was originally published on the FCR blog on June 15, 2017 and received a lot of great comments on both sides of the argument. Click here to read the original post.

I wrote an article several months ago discussing the concept of Stop Words. These are words that we should stop saying in customer service and there are other, more positive words and phrases we should use in their place. I’ve had a number of great conversations about this concept in the aftermath of that article — one in particular that I keep returning to.

One person commented that “no problem should be added to the list of stop words. This one stopped me in my tracks because no problem is kind of my go to phrase for a lot of situations. You know, “Hey Jeremy, I had something come up and need to reschedule our meeting.” I respond with, “That’s no problem.” Or what about, “Thanks again for your help today”? It’s so easy to respond with “It was no problem.”



What’s wrong with no problem? Some would argue nothing. Granted, the words no and problem are both negative on their own. Could the mention of either of these words in any context trigger negative feelings for a customer? Others would argue that saying no problem somehow implies that it could have been a problem — that in some way you’re doing the customer a huge favor by helping them out. You’re going out of your way to do something that’s not necessarily required and you could just as easily have been inconvenienced.

Admittedly, no problem is a fairly common expression in the English language, and most likely 99.9% of the time it’s accepted by customers. But then again nope, can’t, won’t, unfortunately, and policy (my other stop words) are also fairly common in a lot of customer service conversations. What we’re angling for here isn’t the common or ordinary. We’re looking for WOW, extraordinary, awesome, or whatever word you’d like to insert to demonstrate the level of customer service we provide.

Let’s think about a few alternatives to no problem. What about some of these?

  • My pleasure
  • Of course
  • Absolutely
  • You bet
  • Anytime

None of these phrases could be construed as negative and that same can be said about individual words within those phrases as well.

I still don’t think I have strong feelings for or against the phrase. I tend to agree that if you can avoid saying no or problem to customers, that’s a really good thing. So what say you? Are you for or against no problem? It’s your turn to leave a comment and tell me if I should add it to our list of stop words or if I’m completely overthinking this one.

Print Friendly

Republished with author's permission from original post.


Recent Editor's Picks:


Categories: BlogService and SupportThink Tank

114 views

5 Responses to Does “No Problem” Belong on the Stop Words List?

  1. Michael Lowenstein July 11, 2017 at 5:33 am (1274 comments) #

    “No problem” feels less about negativism than it does about passive and commoditized experience.. It also says much about a reactive, satisfaction-oriented culture that doesn’t fully recognize the weight of words and phrases used by employees on the customer’s memory and downstream actions.

  2. Shaun Belding July 11, 2017 at 1:23 pm (61 comments) #

    Really happy to see the topic! It comes up a lot in our training.

    Are there better alternatives to “no problem?” As you identified, the answer is a resounding yes. But does “no problem” have negative connotations simply because it contains the word “problem?” Absolutely not.

    My definition of a ‘stop word’ is one that has the potential to trigger a negative emotional response. Given the intent behind the phrase, that is unlikely. It is a simple colloquialism that falls in the category as “No worries,” “Fuggetaboutit,” and “Ain’t no thang”

  3. Lisa Yetman July 12, 2017 at 7:50 am (11 comments) #

    “No problem”….Like you {Jeremy}, Michael and Shaun have mentioned, those two words do not indicate any negativity together and they have become go-to words in our modern vernacular.

    I do feel that when you are involved in Customer/Guest Service, you should be mindful of the language you use, just so that you do not unintentionally offend someone. As a suggestion, I feel that “no problem” is a phrase best used with ones friends – not with customers or Guests.

    Therefore, I will more eloquent words – such as “happy to be able to help”, “my pleasure”, etcetera. These feel – and sound – more genuine to me when dealing with the public-at-large.

  4. Jeremy Watkin July 12, 2017 at 10:08 am (30 comments) #

    @Michael- I like your perspective here and agree that, if our customer service staff understood the weight of their words, they might simply pick a different, more memorable phrase.

    @Shaun- I agree with you and think most people see it that way unless they had an upbringing where this somehow implied an inconvenience to the person serving the customer. I think that’s where I would put my focus.

  5. Andrew Rudin July 17, 2017 at 8:50 am (192 comments) #

    In many industries, customers and customer service professionals have diverse backgrounds, and their communication styles are similarly diverse. As are their expectations. When the issue is linguistic style, it would be extremely tedious and unwieldy to attempt to proscribe otherwise-innocuous phrases from everyday customer-service conversations. The operative word is micro-management. Put yourself on the other side of that equation, and I think you’d spend your off-peak moments surfing LinkedIn, scoping out gigs where you are not being told exactly how to communicate. “You bet” is certainly pleasant, and it doesn’t offend me, even though it’s not how I express myself. I’ve lived in Virginia most of my life. Here we just say “sure.” It means the same thing.

    Which expression is used isn’t the issue. Did the rep make eye contact? Did his or her voice project sincerity? These are the more salient matters.

    My “crisp line” is whether the word, phrase, or expression could be considered offensive. Could some cultures find “no problem” offensive? I didn’t look it up, so I don’t know the answer. But the issue should never be taken for granted. Similarly, some expressions are routinely used when men are conversing, but are offensive to women. All must be taken into account when working with personnel. Another reason that it’s vital to have diversity in management so that mistakes can be avoided.

Add Your Comment (All comments are reviewed by moderator, no spam permitted!)