Perhaps you have noticed that when you say “thank-you” for good service at a restaurant or for assistance from a sales clerk or a colleague in your department, the typical response is “no problem” or “no worries”. Although I am certainly glad to hear that I was not a problem and the person helping me is not worried because of my request, it would be nice to receive a simple “you’re welcome”. It is worth noting that the person helping me is paid to assist customers, it’s not like they are doing me a favour by serving me – it’s their job! What concerns me is that companies are accepting or even condoning this casual appreciation of their customers. I was raised to say thank-you when someone did something good for me. I was also taught to say “you’re welcome” when someone expressed their appreciation for my assistance or the service I provided. We are losing our ability to express appreciation. Last year, when I was checking out of a downtown New York hotel, I received the ubiquitous “no problem” from an otherwise pleasant and professional employee. This was a major international hotel chain which likely has an employee training program that includes guidelines for interacting with and responding to customers. Sadly the standard for using manners and showing courtesy in business is slipping badly. Could this be our inability to communicate effectively with someone in person? Are we more comfortable texting a response which is often an abbreviated response laced with happy faces and one letter words? I do not suggest every interaction with a person, or response to a question requires a formal or extended response, sometimes you just have to net-it-out and move on.
I’d like to encourage and even challenge you or your company to start expressing genuine appreciation for customers, who incidentally pay your wages, by saying thank-you. What about adopting an approach of being different than many of your competitors by being polite, courteous and respectful? This move in itself could be a competitive advantage for your firm and a positive step in building your personal brand. Say thank-you to every customer or colleague that helps you over the next week, whether it is in person, via the phone, email or in a text. Just try it and see what happens. Watch the surprised responses you may get from people. In personal encounters look in their eyes to communicate your appreciation and connect with them.