Pat Sajak owns a local radio station in my hometown, and I caught his piece this week talking about how the word “like” permeated a recent interview he did. Like the interviewee was like really like using the word “like” like an awful lot. Sajak said that “like” may have surpassed “uhm” as the crutch word for today’s generation. This got me to thinking about words and how important they are in today’s business climate.
My girlfriend and I got into a discussion on this as well. We were comparing the experience between buying a chicken sandwich at McDonalds, versus one at Chick-Fil-A . Night and day.
Chick-Fil-A: Good afternoon, how can I help you?
McDonalds: What choo want?
Chick-Fil-A: Your change is $2.62, thank you for choosing Chick-Fil-A.
McDonalds: Here you go.
You get the idea.
I began to think about other languages that we use in out daily lives and what it might convey to our customers. What I discovered is that if we slip into complacency in our language, we might be putting our clients off.
Consider the phrase “No problem.” I am SO guilty of this. I do something for someone and they thank me. “No problem.” What does that say? Did you expect the customer to be a problem? Is the work you do so insignificant that it is not a problem? Instead of “No problem” I usually mean “You’re welcome, I was glad to do it.” So why don’t I use that phrase more often? Or maybe just a simple “You’re welcome”? I will from now on.
“Yeah” is just lazy unless you are cheering on your favorite sports team. This is another crutch I use. “Yeah” means “yes” and I will be changing it up from here on out.
While many of these terms likely have roots in our friends and family relationships, they have carried over into the business realm and really need to stop. When it comes to business, we are in business to make a profit and we need to make sure we are not treating our customers like our friends.
If someone plunks down a few grand for a vacation and if the best we can muster in response to a “Thank you so much” is a “Yeah, no problem,” we have a problem. I have seen many businesses in and out of the travel industry blur the lines between business and professional. We cannot assume that it is OK to call someone by his or her first name until we know. We need to say “please” and “thank you” more often. When do the work we are tasked with performing, it is not “No problem,” it is what we do, and saying “You’re welcome” is the right way to respond to a thank you.
It’s 2016 and a new year. I for one am making a conscious effort to step up my language game. My mom told me that sticks and stones may break my bones, but words could never hurt me. Well, she may be right, but I am thinking that the wrong words might be able to hurt my business. Who’s with me?