BEP 409 – Quality Control 2: Customer Service

BEP 409 LESSON - Quality Control 2: Customer Service

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson, the second in a two-part series on quality control. In this lesson, we’ll focus on quality control for customer service.

For companies that sell products, quality control is critical. Not just for ensuring consistency, safety, and reliability, but for meeting customers’ expectations. When customers buy from your company, they’re thinking about more than just the product itself. They’re thinking about how well you serve them.

Customer service involves a huge range of activities. Pretty much any time a customer interacts with a person or a system in your company, it’s customer service. And you need to think about everything from how easy it is to use the website, to the tone your employees use on the phone.

When we talk about customer service, and the quality of customer service, there are many special expressions we use. Many of these are combinations of words that we call “collocations.” You might often learn individual vocabulary words, but we don’t always think, or speak, in individual words. We speak in chunks of language. These chunks are called collocations. In fact “customer service” itself is a collocation. Those two words go together to create a new idea.

In today’s dialog, we’ll continue a conversation between Emma and Paolo. Emma is a consultant that helps companies with quality control. And Paolo runs a company that makes and services solar panels. As they discuss the work that Emma will do for Paolo’s company, they use many English collocations. We’ll explain those collocations later in the debrief.

Listening Questions

1. What two goals does Paolo have regarding customer service quality?
2. What does Paolo’s company do after every install or service call?
3. What has Paolo’s company not done yet, in a documented way?

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BEP 408 – Quality Control 1: Manufacturing

English Collocations for Quality Control and Manufacturing

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson, the first in a two-part series on quality control. In this lesson, we’ll focus on the manufacturing side of things.

Successful companies understand the importance of quality. At minimum, quality control is about meeting industry standards or regulations. Beyond that, quality is a huge factor in brand reputation and customer satisfaction. And a commitment to strong QC, or quality control, can also lead to significant cost savings.

Given these benefits, no wonder many companies have entire teams or positions dedicated to monitoring quality. And, just like any other area of expertise, quality control comes with its own special language. Much of this language appears in set expressions that we call “collocations.” In fact, I just used one when I mentioned “monitoring quality.” To monitor quality is a common collocation related to quality control.

Collocations are just natural combinations of words. Certain verbs and adjectives always go with certain nouns. And certain nouns often combine to create a special meaning. If you just learn new words individually, you might miss these natural combinations.

In today’s dialog, we’ll hear a conversation between Paolo and Emma. Paolo works for a company that manufactures, sells, and services solar panels. Emma is a quality control consultant. Paolo’s company is looking to hire Emma to conduct a quality control audit, or a review of their systems. During their conversation, they use lots of English collocations, which we’ll explain later in the debrief.

Listening Questions

1. What does Paolo say they did after completing a safety audit?
2. What kind of testing will Emma’s work not include?
3. What is the purpose of “pulling samples” in quality control?

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Skills 360 – How to Overcome Cognitive Bias

Skills 360 - Overcoming Cognitive Bias

Welcome back to the Business English Skills 360 podcast as we continue learning about cognitive bias. In this lesson, we’ll look at how to deal with the biases that impact our decision-making.

Trusting your gut and making quick decisions might work in some cases. But if you think your decision-making ability is based on perfect reasoning and complete information, well you’re wrong. You’re only human after all. And your decision-making machinery is flawed. In our last lesson, we had a closer look at exactly the kinds of biases that lead to suboptimal decisions. So how can you overcome these biases?

It’s a question that every good manager should be asking themselves. And making better decisions while avoiding biases comes down to a few key things: awareness, curiosity, and evidence. Let’s start with awareness. Now, if you tuned in to our last lesson when we talked about different types of bias, then you’re already on the right track.

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Skills 360 – What is Cognitive Bias?

Business English 360 - Understanding Cognitive Bias

Welcome back to the Business English Skills 360 podcast for today’s lesson on cognitive bias. These are factors that affect our ability to make good decisions and reasonable judgments.

Cognitive biases are factors that can negatively impact our decision-making and judgments. We make numerous decisions daily, ranging from significant ones like hiring employees to minor ones deciding where to go to lunch. These decisions often rely on intuition, information, and others’ perspectives. However, biases, which are unconscious tendencies, can lead to suboptimal decisions.

One common bias is the confirmation bias, where we focus on information that supports our existing beliefs and ignore contradictory evidence. This can cause us to become entrenched in incorrect views. Another is the sunk-cost fallacy, where we stick to a decision due to prior investments, even when it’s not the best choice.

The halo effect and horns effect are biases where one trait of a person influences our overall perception of them, often leading to misjudgments. For example, attractiveness can be wrongly equated with competence, while negative traits can overshadow a person’s capabilities.

Intuition can sometimes mislead us, making data crucial for decisions. However, biases like sample size neglect, where we draw conclusions from insufficient data, can still occur. Availability bias makes us overestimate the likelihood of recent events, such as fearing flying after hearing about a crash despite its relative safety.

The planning fallacy leads us to underestimate the time needed for tasks, often because we consider only the best-case scenarios. Recognizing these biases is the first step to mitigating their effects.

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BEP 35c – Meetings: Clarifying What Was Meant

BEP 35c LESSON - English Meetings: Clarifying Meaning

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on clarifying in English meetings. Previously we looked at how to clarify what was said when you didn’t hear properly. Today we’re going to look at how to clarify what someone means in order to avoid misunderstandings.

Life would be simple if everyone said what they meant clearly and directly. But that’s not the way things work. People often speak indirectly or use words that are a bit confusing. For this reason, we often need to clarify what people mean.

There are several ways to do this. You can tell someone you don’t understand. Or you might confirm an idea or restate what someone says if you think you might understand. And it may take some time to work out the general meaning or the meaning of a specific word.

Today we’ll listen to a meeting between Michael, Rachel, and Ryan. Michael is leading the meeting and talking about the disappointing launch of a new product. During the conversation, it’s not always clear what people mean. For this reason, they use several different expressions for clarifying what was meant.

Listening Questions

1. What expression does Michael use about the “numbers” that Ryan tries to clarify?
2. What does Ryan ask about that Michael wants to clarify?
3. What word does Michael use that Rachel asks about near the end of the conversation?

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