Trends in Customer Service (Upper-Intermediate Lesson Plan)

ESL/EFL Level: Upper-intermediate
Lesson Topic: Trends in customer service and experiences in the last decade
Skill Focus
: Speaking, Reading, Vocabulary
Approximate Class Time: 1.75 hours
Lesson Plan Download: customer-service-upper-intermediate-lesson-112022.docx
Lesson Overview:

  • Trends mentioned in the reading passage include chatbots, self-checkout machines, tip creep, feedback fatigue, a focus on empathy, and digital payments.
  • Post-reading activities include a debate about implementing chatbots at an airline. There is also a roleplay activity with three scenarios that focuses on using I-Statements and phrases for empathy.
  • All lessons come with warm-up questions, comprehension questions, a vocabulary section, and discussion questions.

Customers dining outside a restaurant

Note to teachers:

UPPER-INTERMEDIATE Lesson on Trends in Customer Service: Warm-up (Pair Work)

  1. How would you define “customer service?”
  2. Have you ever worked in customer service? If so, how was it?
  3. What is a recent issue you’ve had to deal with through a business’s customer service?
  4. The below article describes some customer service trends of the last decade. With a partner, make a list of trends that you think might appear in the article.

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-- Lesson plan on Customer Service Trends by Matthew Barton of EnglishCurrent.com (copyright). Site members may photocopy and edit the file for their classes. Permission is not given to rebrand the lesson, redistribute it on another platform, or sell it as part of commercial course curriculum. For questions, contact the author.

 Possible answers to follow-up questions

  1. (Transparency has increased because companies and servicepeople are now rated and reviewed by the public. This, in theory, should make business dealings more open and honest.)
  2. These machines are expensive to install and they result in more shoplifting.
  3. It is similar in that it is another example of businesses offloading tasks onto the consumer. It is different because consumers are not compensated for the work they are doing today. (Piggy Wiggly offered lower prices to consumers for gathering their own goods.)
  4. Some customers are annoyed that they are asked to tip at more places, tip more, and provide more feedback.
  5. It has introduced the risk of being called out on digital forums/spaces, which could result in backlash or negative publicity for the company.

 Vocabulary answers: 1-b, 2-i, 3-h, 4-e, 5-a, 6-j, 7-g, 8-c, 9-d, 10-L, 11-k, 12-f

 Endnotes

  • [1] https://www.whoson.com/chatbots-ai/the-falsity-of-the-chatbot-vs-live-chat-debate/
  • [2] https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/09/business/self-checkout-retail
  • [3] https://globalnews.ca/news/9087894/tip-inflation-canada/
  • [4] https://www.zdnet.com/article/10-key-customer-service-trends-for-2022-and-beyond/
  • [5] https://www.helpscout.com/helpu/future-of-customer-support/
  • [6] https://news.gallup.com/poll/397718/americans-using-cash-less-often-foresee-cashless-society.aspx
  • [7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I-message
  • [8] https://www.helpcenterapp.com/blog/empathy-in-customer-service/

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