Tales From The Office – Episode 4

In the last episode of Tales From The Office, Lisa was struggling with business English writing. Specifically, she was having trouble completing a new customer form for Steve from Samphor Industries. Lisa’s manager, Samantha, found a company called Skill House Learning to help Lisa improve her professional communication skills. Let’s see what happens in this episode…

After researching a training provider who could help Lisa, Samantha found a company called Skill House Learning. She decided to send them an email. The letter she sent looked like this:

Hello Daniel,

I am a customer service manager at Crodain Corporation, a manufacturer of chemical coatings in Los Angeles. Recently one my staff members has been struggling with handling customers on the phone and inputting information into our system. She has developed a reputation for difficulty in communication over the phone. Customers avoid dealing with her on the phone which has resulted in an increased workload for myself and her team members.

We are looking to develop a program that can help this employee, Lisa, with improving her customer service abilities, listening and speaking on the phone, and also improve her written and spoken grammar.

Please let us know if this sounds like a program you could develop for us.

Best regards,

Samantha Barendo

Daniel and Samantha set up an initial phone conversation to further understand the problem and put together an idea of what the program would look like. After the phone call, Daniel created an initial ESL for Business program proposal for Samantha and Crodain Corporation. The next step was to show the proposal to the president of the company.

Tales From The Office - Episode 4 - Business English Writing

The president of Croidain Corporation, Ross Johnson, looked over the proposal and gave the approval. Samantha and Daniel prepared the final version of the proposal. Lisa was going to start an ESL for Business program with Skill House Learning.

See how Daniel and Skill House Learning help improve Lisa’s business English writing in the next episode of Tales From The Office…

Tales From The Office – Episode 3

When we left off with Lisa, she was starting to fill out a new account form for Steve from Samphor Industries. Let’s see what happens in this episode…

“Alright, time for the next step,” I thought to myself.

“Steve, can I get your company’s address?” I said to him.

“Sure,” Steve replied, “1600 South Broad Lane, Los Angeles, CA…”

As Steve spoke the address, I started to write it down. Steve was speaking so quickly, I knew he was in a hurry and I wanted to be able to take care of this new account form quickly too. But it was too fast and I didn’t catch all the information. I was a little nervous because of the pressure.

“Steve, could you please repeat the address?”

“Okay…The address is 1600 South Broad Lane, Los Angeles, CA…”

I wrote down what Steve had told me. I think I got most of it but didn’t want to ask him to repeat the information again. I didn’t want to waste his time and I wanted to make sure I was taking the order quickly so I could keep with the demand and the rest of the customer service team.

We proceeded to go through the rest of the new account form. I filled out the form for Steve and then sent it over to our sales manager for approval. Before we can start doing business with a new customer I know we have to first go through this process.

A few days later a problem occurred with the form that Lisa filled out for Steve. Because she was rushing through it, there was multiple errors that made trouble for Lisa’s coworkers in her department, including her manager Samantha. Because things were not formatted correctly, the team had trouble finding the information amongst the many customer files. And because key information was missing, someone from her team (her manager Samantha) would have to go back and contact Steve to get the needed info.

New Account Form - Skill House Learning - ESL for Business

Samantha thought about what to do to help Lisa with her professional English communication skills. Through her research online, she found a company named Skill House Learning that specialized in ESL for Business programs. Skill House looked liked they provided just the kind of training that would take Lisa and the customer service team to the next level.

Let’s see how Skill House Learning helped Lisa and the customer service team in the next episode of Tales From The Office…

Tales From The Office – Episode 2

When dealing with customers, grammar and pronunciation can be difficult for our customer service representative Lisa. Let’s see how she deals with a situation of an incoming purchase request.

Lisa: so I took a deep breath and picked up the phone.

“Customer Service Department. This is Lisa speaking. How can I help you?”

“Hi, yes, I’m interested in purchasing 10 cases of your industrial coating material. I’m with Samphor Industries. My name is Steve,” said the man on the line.

Purchase Order Training - Skill House Learning - ESL for Business

“Ok Steve, I can help you with that,” I replied.

I was not entirely confident on the phone. I hope Steve would understand me okay and not get upset. Sometimes customers are pressed for time and get frustrated when I have trouble picking up the details of the order.

“Have you order with us before?” I caught myself already messing up right there. I knew it should have been ordered.

I have trouble getting grammar and pronunciation right in English. Especially under pressure because I get nervous speaking my second language of English in a business setting. That’s probably why a handful of customers ask to deal with Julie or Kristen. They don’t want the hassle of dealing with someone they can’t understand clearly and who sometimes can’t understand them that well either.

“No this is the first time I have ordered from you guys.”

“So first you need to set up an account for Samphor and then we can do the order.” I was self conscious about my accent. I knew it sounded really thick when I said that.

“Okay…My time is kind of tight at the moment, can you help me set up the account right now?”

“Okay, no problem, Steve. Let me get the new account form…”

I pulled out the new account form and started to go over the information with Steve.

“How do you spell your company’s name?” I asked him.

“S-A-M-P-H-O-R.” He said.

“S-A-M-B-H-O-R. Got it.”

“Wait a sec. It’s S-A-M-P-H-O-R. P not B.” Steve corrected me.

“Okay. Got it.”

P’s and B’s sound really similar in my home language. I knew it was P but when I said it, it sounded like a B.

I wish there was some way I could get some help to improve my professional English speaking abilities…

See what happens next in Episode 3 of Tales From the Office…


Tales From The Office – Episode 1

It was Monday and I wasn’t looking forward to going to work. The pressure was on with a number of clients ordering product at the same time. When I left work on Friday, my email inbox was overflowing with client orders to respond to. They were now waiting for me when I got into the office.

Not only were there all the emails to respond to, but with more client demand for our products, the phone lines were always busy and my English was not very good. I would fear talking with the clients and making a mistake on an order. That happened a number of times already. Our manager, Samantha, has had to cover for me on the phones since I wasn’t able to respond effectively to what customers were wanting. Also sometimes they couldn’t understand me because of my accent.

I got out of my car and walked into the office. I sat down at my desk and took a deep breath. Okay, time to get started.

Customer Service Department Training - Skill House Learning

Just as I thought, the phone calls and emails started to roll in. Here in the customer service department, we are a team of four. There are three of us customer service representatives and our manager. My coworkers, Julie and Kristen, were born in the States and have better English than me. I feel like I am holding the department back. But I don’t say anything. I just try my best to do my job.

“Lisa, I need you to handle the phones coming in,” Samantha said, “we are getting a lot of calls coming in from customers requesting orders.”

“Okay, I’ll take care of it,” I said. Deep down, I started to get nervous. Would I be able to handle the orders?

Just then, the phones starting ringing. I picked it up and began to answer the call.

See what will happen to Lisa in the next episode of Tales From The Office….

3 Reasons for High Language Standards in Professional Social Media

3 Reasons to Have High Standards with English Usage in Professional Social Media

Good writing is reflective of your credibility as a professional. Increasingly, I see poor English usage in written communication on professional social media such as LinkedIn and professional websites and blogs. When we post a comment in the professional realm or reply to a post, English should be used correctly with proper grammar. Here are three reasons your written English communication needs to be of high quality:

English that is not correctly written will make you look unprofessional and unable to have professional correspondence. Any time you post content publicly, you are showing the world who you are by how you communicate. If you have poor grammar when posting a response, you are displaying a lack of allegiance to high professional standards. However, strong written English skills reflect high professional standards.

If you are a leader in an organization, you set the standard for your employees. If your written English is sloppy, this gives your employees the green light to drop standards for English communication. When your employees deal with customers, vendors, and colleagues, they will be representing your organization. As such, leaders should demonstrate and cultivate professional writing and communication.

A strong command of English written communication will help you articulate your ideas more accurately and stand out from those that have poor written communication. Unfortunately, the colloquial nature of social media does not always lean towards professional writing standards. By displaying strong English written communication skills in professional social media, you will stand out from other professionals. By continuing to improve your written English skills, you will be able more and more to express your intentions with expanding clarity. This has an effect on you and your company’s bottom line.

Find out more about how we help employees to develop high level business writing here: http://skillhouselearning.com/making-training-programs-effective/

Improving Sales Emails For Your L2 English Staff

Let me paint a scenario. You open a sales email and see glaring mistakes in spelling. Not only that, but the content of the email itself just does not look right. The author of this email is not effectively communicating his or her message due to language inability. Are you going to engage in the sales process with this person? Probably not.

Skill House Learning-sales emails

What if this person was a member of your staff? Perhaps someone you directly manage. Multiple ineffective sales emails could cost your company thousands of dollars in missed opportunity.

However, there is hope. The sales emails that this employee is sending out could be vastly improved. Providing training for your L2 English employees will make them more effective at communicating with prospects and clients, increasing both the value of the employee to your company and your company’s earnings.

Here are two things you can do to improve sales email for your L2 English staff:

First, provide a model of what works. Show your staff the correct form of email. What this means is show them the form and format of an industry standard email. When creating any kind of business correspondence, the writer needs to write with the discourse community in mind. The discourse community is the group of people involved in the correspondence. In this case, the prospects or potential clients and the author of the email are the members of the discourse community. When writing to potential clients, there is a “right” way that the email is supposed to look. We all know this through experience. However, your L2 English staff do not necessarily know the conventions of the discourse community and need to be shown the correct way to write sales emails.

Skill House Learning-sales-trainingSecond, have your L2 English staff send a draft for feedback. Do this a few times a week. You or a manager in your company may not have the time to go over each email, but working with a few emails a week is both manageable for you and the L2 English employee. Be particularly careful with providing feedback. Focus your feedback on one to three points. Sandwich your criticism between two positive comments. Have the employee make changes and then send back to you. You can keep these over time as a measure of progress.

By following these steps, you will be able to see demonstrable improvement in your L2 English staff’s business writing.

This is information is specifically for training your ESL employees in improving their sales emails. If you are interested in improving sales performance for all your staff, I would recommend looking at this website: http://www.jillkonrath.com/