Business English: Developing your customer service

Read the text about customer service. Phrases about customer service are highlighted and explained at the bottom. There are also 2 discussion questions to answer, so please leave your answers in the comments box.

Whatever business you are in you probably have customers of one description or another and keeping them happy is a must. So why do countless companies and organisations fail to provide high quality customer service? In the current economic climate keeping valued clients happy is essential to ensuring repeat business and for developing a solid reputation.

New research carried out by a leading Business school categorises levels of customer service into 5 distinct groups. Professor Beirn, principal researcher on the project, states that “any enterprise which seeks to improve customer service must first know what kind of service they are providing and then work from there”. Here are the groups he has developed:

1) Terrible

This kind of service is unforgettable because it is so bad and as such is bound to generate complaints. Customers will never forget any company that provides this level of service but for the wrong reason.

2) Poor

A client who experiences poor service will probably be quite annoyed at the time but may not decide to complain after it is over. Nevertheless, they will never use the company again and will probably tell colleagues about their negative experience.

3) Average

The vast majority of companies fall into this category. They do not offer negative service but at the same time they cannot be classified positively either. Customers would only return to such companies if there were no other options or if they just did not have the time to track down another provider.

4) Good

It’s safe to say that we all expect this degree of service and when we do receive it we are more than happy to continue doing business with the company in question. Examples include polite staff and a professional attitude.

5) Great

A company that has this kind of service will certainly make a lasting impression. Furthermore, they will earn a valuable reputation in the industry and gain new clients solely based on their impressive customer service.

Discussion questions

1) Describe which of these you have experienced.

2) How can companies improve their customer service?

Phrases about customer service

Sthg is a must
Sthg is essential
Countless companies
A large number of companies
To fail to provide sthg
To not give sthg
Valued clients
Very important customers
Repeat business
When customers use your company/buy your products/services many times
Solid reputation
When people say that you are very good


To work from there
To start sthg from a certain point e.g. If you have ‘terrible’ service then you try to improve it to ‘poor’.
Will always be remembered
Sthg is bound to generate complaints
It is sure (100%) that people will complain about it
To be annoyed
To be angry
People you work with
To fall into this category
To be classified in this group


To track down sthg/someone
To find sthg/someone
It’s safe to say that…
To be confident that you are correct in saying…
To be more than happy
To be very pleased
The company in question
The company being talked about
To make a lasting impression
To behave in a way that will not be forgotten
To earn a valuable reputation
To work hard and gain a good image
Solely based on…
Only about…

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