Friday, May 25, 2007

English Language

Do callers to a business or organization expect to be understood, and should they be able to understand the words and message of the person at that business who answers the telephone?

There is one organization in McHenry County that I call fairly frequently. It has assigned the telephone duties to a very nice woman who does not speak English as her first language. This means that she appears not to always understand the questions asked of her, and her replies often cannot be understood.

I approve and applaud bilingual skills in a business, especially in one that serves the Hispanic community as a small part of its business. But for 90% of its telephone business (my estimate), why would an organization place an employee with verbal communication challenges in the important position of telephone receptionist?

The whole immigration and English as the official language is perhaps finally having an impact on me. Frankly, I am sick and tired of having to repeat and explain myself when I ask such a simple question as "What time does the debriefing with a certain visiting inspection team start on Friday?" The organization here is a small operation; it's not like I'm calling the Social Security office in Washington, D.C.

So I say, speak out. If you have opinions on this issue, contact senior management in businesses with which you deal, and tell them how you feel. Tell them what you expect and what you want them to do about the problem. And, if they don't do it, ask for an explanation.

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