BEP 21 B – Telephone Skills: Taking and Leaving a Message


Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on how to take or leave a message on the telephone in English.

You’ve probably experienced this situation before: someone calls your office and wants to talk to someone who isn’t there. So what do you do? You take a message, of course. But how do you take a message?

Well, it starts with asking the caller if they would actually like to leave a message. Then you’ll get some information, like who the person wants to talk to and what they want to talk about. Also, don’t forget to get the caller’s number so the person can call them back. And it’s a good idea to check back with the caller that you’ve got the information correct, because incorrect messages can cause big problems.

But what if you are the caller and you want to leave a message? Well, you can simply ask if you can do just that. And then you’ll give all the important details, like who you want to talk to, what you want to talk to them about, and your phone number. It’s these techniques and language for taking and leaving messages that we’ll learn today.

In the dialog, we’re going to rejoin a conversation between Claire and Nathan. In our last lesson, we heard Claire answer the phone at a company called Airtronics. Nathan is the caller. He works for Cyclops Aircraft and he’s calling to talk to someone named George Kline. But George isn’t there, so Claire is going to have to take a message for him.

Listening Questions

1. Why is Nathan trying to get in touch with George Kline?
2. What part of the message does Claire repeat back to Nathan?
3. Near the end of the call, what does Claire say she will try to do immediately?

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BEP 21 A – Telephone Skills: Starting a Call

Business English for Telephone Calls

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on how to start a telephone call in English.

On the telephone, you can’t use your smile or body language to communicate feelings or ideas. You’ve only got your voice! So it’s really important that you know what to say and how to say it at each step of the call. This is especially true of the start of the call. Whether you’re the caller or the receiver, you need to cover the basic information right away so you can move on and deal with the matter at hand.

So, what are those basic things you need to cover at the start of a call? Well, that’s what we’ll learn about in this lesson. If you’re the receiver, you’re going to have to answer the call with a greeting and something to identify yourself and company. On a very simple level, that might sound like “Good morning. This is Jane at City Contractors.” If you’re the caller, you’re also going to have to identify yourself before you ask to speak to someone. Once you’ve identified yourself, what happens next? Well, as the receiver, next you will want to connect the caller with the right person. But before you do that, or before you take a message if the person is not available, you want to find out why the person is calling. So you’ll ask about the purpose of the call.

In today’s dialog, we will learn how the call works from both sides. We’ll hear Claire, who works at a company called Airtronics. She’s answering the call. We’ll also hear Nathan, the caller, who works for Cyclops aircraft. Nathan is calling to talk to someone named George Kline in the contracts department.

Listening Questions

1. What are the different parts of Claire’s first statement when she answers the phone?
2. How does Nathan ask to speak to George Kline?
3. How does Claire ask about the purpose of the call?

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BEP 261 – Complaining on the Telephone 2

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on complaining and getting results over the phone.

Few people actually like to complain, but sometimes you just have to. There’s an old saying that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” which means that if you don’t complain, you won’t actually get anything resolved. So if you pay for a product or service and you’re not satisfied, it’s usually best to let the company know.

We can complain by email, but email isn’t always powerful enough. We need to use our voice to convey our ideas, emotions, and seriousness. We can complain in person, but that’s not always possible. So in many situations, we need to complain over the phone. But that’s not an easy thing to do successfully, so today we’ll look at some techniques that you can use to get results over the phone. In this lesson, we’ll cover rejecting a proposed solution, making threats, and asking for guarantees. We’ll also learn about establishing consequences and showing appreciation for a solution.

In the dialog, we will rejoin Donna and Mike. Donna works for Fuller Foods, which buys fruit from a company where Mike works as an account manager. Donna has been complaining about late deliveries and damaged produce. And Mike is trying to make her happy by looking for solutions to the problem.

Listening Questions

1. What does Donna think of Mike’s idea to talk to people in his company about the problem?
2. Why might Donna mention that she gets calls from sales reps from other companies?
3. What does Donna propose in the event that deliveries arrive late?

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BEP 260 – Complaining on the Telephone 1

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on complaining over the telephone.

We all know the frustration that comes with not being satisfied with a product or service? And have you had your frustration build up because the problem keeps happening? At some point, we have to stop just complaining to our friends or colleagues about it and complain directly to the company. After all, you pay good money for something, and you want to be happy with it.

So you call the company up and you try to deal with the problem over the phone. It’s not an easy task, but there are some techniques that you can learn to make your complaints more effective. In today’s lesson, we’ll look at politely explaining a problem, rejecting bad excuses, and talking about the impact of the problem. We’ll also learn how to reference previous discussions about the problem and how to ask for a solution.

In the dialog, we will hear Donna, who works for a food products company called Fuller Foods. She’s calling Mike, an account manager with a company that distributes fruit. Donna is unhappy with the service she’s been getting and wants to complain about it.

Listening Questions

1. What excuse for the problem does Mike give at first?
2. What is the impact of the problem that Donna is complaining about?
3. What important question does Donna ask Mike at the end of the dialog?

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BEP 240 – Telephoning: Tech Support English (3)

Call Center English Technical Support

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on handling a tech support call in English.

A colleague calls you with a problem. You listen, you ask questions, and you figure out a solution. But you can’t fix the problem yourself – you need to explain to your colleague how they can fix it. It doesn’t matter how simple the solution is to you, you have to make it clear to the other person. And that can be challenging. Fortunately, you can learn some ways of making your instructions clear and effective.

In today’s lesson, we’ll listen to a tech support agent explain a solution to a computer user. But don’t worry if you don’t work in tech support. The techniques this agent uses are useful in any situation where you need to provide support or solutions to someone else. We’ll cover language that you can use to explain a solution in clear steps and explain the reasons for those steps. We’ll also look at how you can recap the steps in a solution, confirm that solution actually worked, and emphasize to someone how to deal with similar problems in the future.

In the dialog, we’ll rejoin Nick and Stacey. Nick is a tech support agent, and Stacey’s a lawyer in New York who is having trouble uploading documents to the company server. Nick has discovered the cause of the problem and is now explaining to Stacey how to fix it.

Listening Questions

1. What does Nick ask Stacey to do first?
2. Why does Nick ask Stacey to upload another PDF from her computer?
3. What should Stacey do next time she has a problem uploading a file?

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