"No problem" - a problem?

The call center I work at has recently decided that the phrase “no problem” is “a negative phrase/slang or inappropriate verbiage” and suggests we instead use Anytime or Certainly when speaking to customers.

I think that “no problem” is a phrase accepted into the English language with the commonly understood meaning of “it’s not an issue” or “I’m happy to help,” without a negative connotation - The Powers That Be say that “No problem” implies either that there once was a problem, or that it could have been a problem.

(Realizing this is probably a debate forum question and not a general question - badusernocookie) What is the origin of the phrase "no problem’? Can I legitimately argue that it is not a negative phrase?

Without expending any effort on the etymology, I’d guess it comes from “There is no problem” or “That’s no(t a) problem”.

I doubt you could legitimately argue against a corporate descision. They probably decided (possibly correctly) that people hear “problem” and subconciously associate this with, well, problems :slight_smile: . Irrespective of this, it is certainly less formal and professional than “Certainly”, although I’m not sure that “Anytime” qualifies.

I would agree with you that it’s NOT a “negative” phrase (unless your company insists on being hyper-technical), but it is a bit less than formal. I guess it depends on what kind of business you do. If you work for a funeral home, I’d choose another phrase, but otherwise… “no problem!”

I’ve seen objections to “No problem” as a response to “Thank you” in a customer service situation; the objection is that the proper response to “Thank you” is “You’re welcome.”

Implicit in “no problem” is the assumption that there would be a problem if you weren’t such a generous and helpful guy. While this is fine coming from the next-door neighbor who just lent you his lawnmower, it’s problematic coming from someone who is paid for what he’s doing. One might, if one were in the appropriate frame of mind, think “No problem?? Glad to hear I’m not inconveniencing you, phone jockey!”

I work in a professional firm, and often answer the phone. After identifying the firm and myself, the caller will occasionally realize that they have dialed the wrong number and will apologize.* How do I appropriately respond? I’ve been saying “No problem,” but it does seem rather unprofessional…

(BTW, with the advent of caller ID, I’ve noticed people apologize far more often than in the past. In the past, virtually all misdialers hung up on you. Today, most apologize.)