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…

New Adult Education Classes in Artesia/Cerritos

Daniel Lipton, Founder and CEO of Skill House Learning, will be teaching two new classes for the third quarter at the ABC Adult School in the Artesia/Cerritos area. The ABC Adult School is located south of Los Angeles, near Long Beach and Anaheim.

The two new classes are Start Your Own Business and iPad and iPhone Essentials.

Start Your Own Business

Have you ever wanted to start a small business and didn’t know where to begin? Take this course and jump start your dreams!

In this course you will gain an understanding of what it takes to start a business with a step-by-step process to realize your vision. The course will cover:

  • Developing a business concept
  • Writing a business plan
  • Understanding the legal issues
  • Financial projections
  • Funding your business
  • Basic accounting
  • Traditional and digital marketing
  • Social media for business
  • Hiring employees

iPad and iPhone Essentials

Buying your first iPad or iPhone? Upgrading to the latest iOS? Take this course and learn how to get the most out of your iPad and iPhone.

In this course, you will gain in-depth instruction on all aspects of using an iPad and iPhone including:

  • Making and receiving calls
  • Setting up an Apple ID and email
  • Navigating iOS and understanding the features
  • Downloading and using applications
  • Selecting, copying, cutting, and pasting text
  • Syncing with your computer
  • Shooting and editing photos and video
  • Finding directions with maps
  • Events, reminders, and alarms
  • Surfing the web
  • Keeping your iPad and iPhone safe and secure
  • iPad and iPhone for business

Registration is currently open for both classes!

Third quarter of classes are January 30th – April 7th, 2017.

Registering for the classes can be done online or in-person at the ABC Adult School office. Call or visit ABC Adult School for more information. Also, Daniel Lipton can be reached by email at email hidden; JavaScript is required or by phone at 562-860-4647.

Making Training Programs Effective

Alignment-Training-Programs-ESL for ManufacturingA key to making training programs effective is having alignment between what is taught during the training session and what the trainees do at work.

Training must connect with the daily tasks of the employees.

What does this look like?

Let’s observe a scenario. Stacey and John work at a chemical manufacturing company in the customer service department. Both have difficulty writing emails using proper formatting, grammar, spelling, and providing sufficient detail. Additionally, Stacey has a strong accent and has difficulty being understood by customers over the phone.

The purpose of this training is to:

  1. increase Stacey’s ability to communicate professionally over the phone
  2. further develop Stacey and John’s writing ability for emails and business documents.

Stacey and John’s daily tasks include taking orders over the phone, acknowledging purchase orders via email, dealing with returned product, and providing the customer with quotes. 

In this scenario, the material for Stacey and John’s program would come directly from the daily tasks. The challenge of training, and the key to making it work, is to provide continuity between what is going on during training and the daily tasks of the employees.

Training-Effective-ESL for BusinessA possible training solution could look like this:

After meeting with management, it was collectively decided that training binders would be used during the sessions. The training binders would contain checklists for how to complete the daily tasks of phone orders, acknowledging purchase orders, RMAs, and quotes. In additional to the checklists, the binders would also include samples of emails written by the manager for reference.

This training binder would facilitate continuity between the training sessions and the work of the employees. It would be used for learning and it would also be used for the completion of the daily tasks.

This sort of alignment between training and on-the-job tasks is an important step to creating a superior learning program that will ultimately help a business to reduce costs, increase profits, and gain an edge against the competition.

For more information about our ESL for Business programs at Skill House Learning, have a look here: http://skillhouselearning.com/esl-business/

We specialize in working with manufacturing companies. More information regarding our ESL for Manufacturing can be found here: http://skillhouselearning.com/esl-for-manufacturing/


Factory Learning Programs

I was once invited to tour a factory where I came across a situation. A quality control manager at a precision instrument manufacturing facility designed an exam to test factory employee knowledge of an assembly process. He showed me the exam he had created. It was a fine exam, one that would work well with native English speaking employees who went through the American school system. The exam tested the ability of employees to assemble part of a scientific measurement device. The test included a matching section with a diagram. Many people would interpret it as an easy to understand test that the employees should have no problem acing. However, this was not the case. Less than 10% of forty factory employees passed the test.

A problem with the learning process at a factory

Prior to the exam, the employees of the factory received a lecture on the material to be tested. What was being done to check for understanding of the employees? Did the employees understand the material being presented? The way to improve this process is through formative assessment of the material. In a formative assessment, the trainer checks for employee understanding during the learning process. For instance, if a training session is to be 60 minutes, there can be 2-6 formative assessments that check for understanding. The best way to teach material is to break it down into small, manageable units of learning. This is called chunking. In this case, it could be 10 minutes chunks of content.

Training-ESL for Manufacturing-Factory

A problem with factory test design

There are many different ways to write an exam. Multiple choice, matching, short answer, fill-in-the-blank to name a few. The key with writing an effective exam is to make the exam match the learning abilities and needs of the employees. The exam should be able to test whether the employee knows the material, not whether he or she knows how to take an exam. The way to fix this is to show a sample exam with the style of questions and test whether the employee is able to complete the exam. If the employee is able to complete the sample exam successfully, let’s say in the range of 80%-90%, then you are ready to use that style of testing during the training.

For more information about our ESL for Business programs at Skill House Learning, have a look here: http://skillhouselearning.com/esl-business/

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/