"Not a problem" for lazy brands—and what to do about it

NOT A PROBLEM is a problem for your brand“Not a problem,” the customer service person said to me on the phone as we were wrapping up my transaction. What!? Not a problem? For who—you!? Wait a minute. Who is the customer here?

All too often the tellers, the sales clerks and the recruiters think they’re being polite when they respond to my “thank you” with “not a problem.” You may not be surprised by it in a fast food joint. Yet, it can be heard almost anywhere.

I don’t blame the employees. I blame you.

“Not a problem” is passive. And it’s lazy. You want a culture of proactive people who are aligned with your purpose to solve a customer’s need. Here are three ways to shore up your brand from the inside out:

Employees should be trained and positioned as counselors, advisors and experts.

When they have that competence (and confidence), they can easily listen, then suggest what a customer needs. Rather than simply acting as order-takers who say goodbye with ambivalence, they can sell more while at the same time giving customers what they actually need.

How are you acting? What is your language? Do you say “not a problem” to internal customers? Or do you listen, counsel and support?

And even if you don’t actually say it, do you project “not a problem” by failing to give people your full attention when they’re meeting with you? If they’re getting a glassy-eyed response from you, it’s almost the same thing. Be courteous and mindful.

Be sure you’re reporting back to employees about the difference they’re making. Reward them with praise and bonuses. You'll create a circle of reciprocity that benefits everyone.

Once you’ve instituted training and clear expectations, watch for better results. You’ll see them. Customer service scores will be higher. Loyalty and sales will increase. That makes your brand profitable for the long term. You're welcome.

If you need help elminating the problem of a complacent culture, call Martha Bartlett Piland direct at 785.969.6203.


MB Piland Advertising + Marketing: Culture Quiz
MB Piland Advertising + Marketing: Health Check