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We discussed basic etiquette and phrases for having a basic Business English phone conversation. In this post, we will discuss how to handle a customer complaint.

Handling a Customer Complaint. This topic is perhaps the nightmare situation of most non-native English speakers. However, dealing with difficult customers is a common situation in the business world, and oftentimes, phone etiquette can reflect deeply on how customers perceive the company overall. It is essential to be polite to the customer, no matter the situation. As in our last post, here’s a sample dialogue between a caller and receiver. Important phrases are bold.

…Ring…. Ring….

“Business 101, this is Stan White speaking. How may I help you today?”

“Yes, hello. I received an incorrect order of business cards last week that I’d like a refund for.”

“Of course, miss, I can help you with that. May I have your name please?”

“It’s Kate Brown.”

“Ok Ms. Brown, one moment, and I will transfer you to our customer service department.”

(Stan White place Kate Brown on a brief hold.)

…Ring… Ring….

“Business 101 Customer Service, this is Jesse speaking, how may I help you?”

“Hello, yes, my name is Kate Brown. I’d like a refund on the business cards I had delivered last week. They are full of typos and the ink quality is awful!”

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that your order was unsatisfactory, Ms. Brown. May I have the order number so I can look up the details?”

“It’s 123456”

“Ok, Ms. Brown, it says here you received 500 business cards last week to you address at 123 Elm Place. We would just need a photo scan of one of the misprinted cards in order to issue a refund. Our email is Would you like us to send a replacement order at 50% off?”

“Absolutely not. I needed these cards for a conference this week, and they were all messed up! I can’t trust your quality, so I’m going to a different company. When can I expect my refund?”

“It should be posted to your account in about 5 business days. I am sorry for the inconvenience this caused. We greatly value your business, so I can offer you a 50% discount on an order any of our products in case you change your mind. The discount code is ABC123.

“We’ll see. Thank you for your assistance, Jesse.”

“You’re welcome Ms. Brown. Have a nice day. Goodbye.”

(They end the call.)

In this situation, the customer was angry, but the representative used important phrases like “I’m sorry to hear that your order was unsatisfactory” and “We greatly value your business” to show respect and empathy for the customer’s complaint. Such phrases are important to know for any workers dealing with customers on a daily basis. Next we will finalize our post on the topic of telephoning by discussing some more useful phrases.

Once again, it’s almost the holiday season - a time of joy and light and gathering with friends and family. As we make our way towards the end of the year, where holiday work parties take place and people finalize work tasks before taking off for the holidays, some English-learners may wonder about how best to wish their co-workers a happy holiday season.

What is appropriate and for which type of co-worker? What if you are unsure about their religion or holiday customs? This business topic is intricately linked to culture, and today’s post will explore these questions from the U.S. workplace perspective.

In the U.S. in particular, several other religious and/or non-denominational celebrations are happening around the same time as Christmas. Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Winter Solstice are the most prominent examples. Christmas is the most wide-spread holiday, yet it is also celebrated by non-religious people as well.

Since not everyone in your social circle is celebrating the same holiday, or you may not be sure what they celebrate, some examples of greetings are listed below. New Year’s, on the other hand, is a secular holiday, and “Happy New Year!” is a standard greeting that can be said to one and all.

Formal Holiday Greetings - for clients, customers, and new acquaintances:

Wishing you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Season’s Greetings!

All the best this holiday season!

Informal Holiday Greetings - for friends, close colleagues, and close customers:

Have a very Merry Christmas (ex. Happy Hanukkah) and a Happy New Year!

Best wishes for you and your family for Christmas and New Year’s!

Sending warm wishes to and yours this holiday season!

Have a healthy and happy New Year!

Making a business-related phone call in English can be very intimidating for non-native speakers. However, those working in English-speaking work environments can boost their confidence by learning and practicing a few phrases that will help them navigate most business calls.

In this post, underlined phrases are those that are vital for basic telephone conversations.

1. Introductions as a receiver

As the receptionist or person answering a call, it is important to also fist introduce yourself and the name of the company/organization.

Ring… Ring…

“Hello, this is Stan White at Business101, how may I help you?” Mr. White should have a friendly tone with the caller.

2. Introductions as a caller

Let’s suppose Lisa Green needs to call to confirm details about a meeting next week with Mr. Smith. She dials, and when the receptionist answers, she introduces herself.

“Hello, my name is Lisa Green. Is Mr. Smith available? I’d like to speak with him about our meeting scheduled for next week.” Ms. Green should be clear about why she is calling.

3. Connecting a caller (Receiver)

Stan White, the receptionist, responds to the caller,

“Sure thing, Ms. Green. I believe Mr. Smith is in his office. I will transfer you. Please hold.” He places Lisa Green on a brief hold and transfers the call.

4. Confirming meeting details (Caller)

Let’s suppose in the first scenario, Mr. Smith is in his office and Lisa Green’s call is forwarded to his desk. He answers,

“Ms. Green, nice to hear from you! Are we still all set for meeting next week?”

Lisa Green replies,

“Yes, Mr. Smith, no problem with the meeting. I just wanted to confirm how many copies of the Annual Report I should bring? And, would it be alright if a colleague of mine also attended? He’s been very involved with the report.”

Let’s suppose Mr. Smith responds to both of these questions. He and Lisa Green are ready to end the call. Lisa says,

“Thank you so much, Mr. Smith. I look forward to meeting with you next week.” Mr. Smith says, “You’re welcome, Ms. Green. Have a nice day! Goodbye.” Lisa responds with a “goodbye” and they end the call.

5. Taking a message (Receiver)

But, let’s suppose Mr. Smith was not available. Stan White needs to take Lisa Green off of hold on the phone.

“Ms. Green? I’m sorry but Mr. Smith is not available right now. Would you like to leave a message?

Lisa Green now has 3 options: She can leave a message with Stan White, she can email Mr. Smith, or she can try to call again later/tomorrow. She replies

“Yes, please. Please tell Mr. Smith I just have a short question about our meeting next week. If he can either call me back this afternoon, that would be great.”

Stan White asks,

Is this the best phone number to reach you? 12345678910?”

Lisa Green confirms the number, and thanks Stan White. He replies

Thank you, have a nice day.” and they end the call.

Be sure to check out next week’s post deal with more complicated business calls and useful phrases for how to handle them.

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