Is Customer Service Dead Ep 719

A graveyard on a clear night with the moons light showing a gravestone with RIP customer service. Sharpen your English listening abilities.

📝 Author: Hilary

📅 Published:

💬 3820 words ▪️ ⏳ Reading Time 20 min

📥 Download MP3 & PDF 13.2 Mb ▪️ 👓 Read Transcript ▪️ 🎧 Listen to Lesson

English Listening Practice: Phrases To Help You Beat Bureaucracy

Lost in automated hell? Let's navigate it together. 🚀 Boost Your English Skills with Adept English! 📚 Use our latest lesson to help you conquer the world of automated systems and the giants of large organisations.

Here's why you need this lesson:

  • Unlock Vocabulary: Master the phrases that navigate through the maze of customer service and automation.
  • Real-Life English: Learn from personal experiences in the UK, making your learning relatable and practical.
  • Fluency Fast Track: Elevate your speaking and listening to fluency with our step-by-step guide.
  • From Beginner to Pro: Whether you're starting out or polishing your skills, we've got you covered.

✔Lesson transcript:

The key is to set realistic customer expectations and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them — preferably in unexpected and helpful ways.
⭐ Richard Branson

Ever felt lost trying to contact a company? Learn key phrases and the #PowerOfPersistence in our newest English lesson. Persistence pays off!

Use today's Adept English lesson to arm yourself with the language skills needed to navigate the maze of automated systems and overpowering organizations.

Discover how persistence and the right phrases can turn the tide in your favour. This isn't just about learning English; it's about learning the art of communication in a world where speaking to a human feels like a relic of the past. Start listening now to transform frustration into fluency.

Open communication is the lifeblood of a strong organization.
⭐ Sheryl Sandberg

Join us, and start your journey to fluency today! Don't forget to follow and subscribe for more insights and lessons.

More About This Lesson

Welcome to a unique English lesson where we tackle big challenges and boost your English fluency! Jump into tales of battling bureaucracy and mastering key phrases. This lesson is your ticket to navigating the complex world of automated systems and big organizations, all while improving your English skills.

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.
⭐ Thomas Edison
  1. Improve listening skills - You practice listening to British English.
  2. Boost vocabulary - Learn phrases about navigating systems and organisations.
  3. Understand cultural context - Get insights into UK customer service challenges.
  4. Enhance persistence - Learn the importance of persistence in communication.
  5. Learn real-world English - Hear English used in real-life scenarios.
  6. Improve comprehension - Focus on understanding spoken English in complex situations.
  7. Expand language use - Discover how to discuss opinions and experiences in English.
  8. Gain confidence - Build confidence in engaging with complex topics in English.

Benefits of our listen & learn approach to learning This lesson is packed with benefits. You'll learn how to:

  • Navigate complex conversations with confidence.
  • Use key English phrases effectively.
  • Understand real-world English through engaging stories.
  • Increase your fluency and comprehension in British English.

Why join this lesson? Because:

  • It's practical. You'll learn skills that are useful in real-life situations.
  • It's engaging. The stories and examples keep you interested and motivated.
  • It's effective. You'll see your English fluency improve as you learn to navigate complex situations with ease.
Technology is nothing. What's important is that you have a faith in people, that they're basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they'll do wonderful things with them.
⭐ Steve Jobs

Ready to tackle the challenge and boost your English fluency? Follow and subscribe to Adept English today! Start your journey with us and discover the joy of learning English through real-life examples and practical language tips. Don't miss out on our next lesson!

Questions You Might Have...

Like a knight facing a dragon, this lesson arms you with the shield of key phrases and the sword of persistence to conquer the beast of bureaucracy.

  1. What is the main goal of the transcript? The transcript aims to enhance your English fluency through listening. It shares tales of overcoming the challenges of dealing with large organizations and mastering key phrases, all while immersing you in British English and culture.
  2. How can listening to these stories help me speak English more fluently? By listening to real-life experiences and the specific vocabulary used to describe them, you internalize the rhythm, intonation, and usage of phrases in British English. This immersion technique is like learning music by ear; you get better the more you listen.
  3. What are some key phrases mentioned in the transcript that are useful in dealing with bureaucracy? The transcript mentions phrases related to persistence, such as "Can I speak to someone in that department?" and discussions about customer service. These phrases are practical in real-world situations where you need to navigate complex systems or request assistance.
  4. Is the frustration with bureaucracy and automated systems unique to the UK? No, it's not unique to the UK. Many listeners from around the world can relate to the challenges of dealing with large organizations, whether they are businesses or government entities. The transcript encourages sharing experiences from your own country, suggesting it's a global issue.
  5. Can the Adept English "Most Common 500 Words Course" help me understand the podcast better? Absolutely! The course focuses on the most frequently used words in English, offering great listening practice. It's designed to boost your understanding of English conversations, making it easier to follow along with the podcast and improve your fluency.

Most Unusual Words:

  • Automated: Controlled by machines or computers instead of people.
  • Persistence: Continuing to do something even though it is difficult.
  • Leverage: To use something to maximum advantage.
  • Invoice: A list of goods or services provided with a statement of the sum due for these.
  • Queue: A line or sequence of people or vehicles awaiting their turn to be attended to or to proceed.
  • Frustrating: Feeling annoyed or less confident because you cannot achieve what you want.
  • Chat facility: An online service allowing you to communicate in real time with others through typed messages.
  • Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs): Legal contracts that prevent someone from sharing information deemed confidential.
  • Whistle-blower: A person who informs on a person or organization engaged in an illicit activity.
  • Headcount: The number of people present or the number of employees in an organization.

Most Frequently Used Words:


Listen To The Audio Lesson Now

🎧 Apple
🎧 Spotify
🎧 Google
🎧 Amazon
🎧 Deezer
🎧 TuneIn
🎧 Stitcher
🎧 BluBrry
🎧 PodBean
🎧 PlayerFM
👁️‍🗨️ Twitter
👁️‍🗨️ Facebook
👁️‍🗨️ YouTube

Transcript: Is Customer Service Dead

Getting Past the Gatekeeper: Key Phrases in English for Dealing with Large Organisations

Hi there and welcome to the Adept English podcast. Today I’m describing a personal experience of navigating automated systems and the challenges of dealing with large organisations. Sometimes it’s difficult to speak to a human being, isn’t it, when you have a problem? So, I wonder if this is a UK thing or whether you experience the same in your country too? So I’m focusing on persistence and key phrases to describe this problem. Sometimes in the Adept English podcast, I give you what’s known as an ‘opinion piece’.

I’m not a journalist, but this is what journalists use to write or speak about their own opinion on something. I like reading and listening to these sorts of things because it helps me firm up my opinion on things. So I’m interested in what you think of what I’ve got to say today. So the challenge of dealing with large organisations. My aim is actually to keep you listening long enough for you to benefit from practising your English listening skills.

Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.

Don’t forget our Most Common 500 Words Course

We’re building that ‘English language part of your brain’ remember and your skill in understanding British English.

By the way, if you’re finding our podcasts difficult to understand, you might benefit from our Five Hundred Most Common Words Course. This gives you great listening practice in the most common words in English that make up a large percentage of English conversation. So give your English language skills a boost with that course. The Most Common 500 Words is available on our website at, on the Courses page.

Boost Your Learning With Adept English

Big businesses and government tower over us as individuals - like ‘Big Brother’?

Imagine a world where the giants of business, many of them online and giant government organisations dominate our lives, wielding their power over us with a strength that makes it feel you cannot challenge them. What was that I heard you say? We’re already there? We already live in that world? Well, I agree with you - I do believe we do. That’s what it’s like in the UK, anyway. So my theme today is the power of large organisations, whether that’s businesses or government organisations and how they increasingly seem to leverage their power over the individual person or over small businesses. The verb ‘to leverage’ in this context, L E V E R A G E - that means ‘to use your power in a situation to get someone else to do what you want then to do’.


Surreal image of man trapped in a hall with tall walls made of phones. Improve your British English understanding.

©️ Adept English 2024

To be in control, in other words. So ‘leverage’ is both a verb and a noun. I’ll give you an example. If I employ a builder to fix my roof, I may withhold payment until the end of the job, to make sure I’m happy with the work before I pay. That gives me ‘leverage’,. That’s a good example of the use of that word. But I believe that large organisations increasingly misuse their power. They ‘leverage a bit too much’ against the individual, in other words. And I can think of so many examples in every day life, either that happen to me or that I hear about happening to other people. Lets practise some vocabulary around this.

Large organisations - happy to waste your time to protect theirs

So what if you, the person or you, the small business is having a problem with a large organisation - it could be a business or in the UK, a government organisation, perhaps? Your first challenge if you want to speak to them is finding a telephone number! Large organisations guard their telephone numbers like never before. If you find a telephone number for the organisation you want to contact, be prepared to be on the phone 20 to 30 minutes listening to music before you get to speak to anybody. You’ll likely be in a queue, waiting for someone to respond. I find that it is very rare that your call is immediately answered. And I find instead, that if I’ve got a question or a difficulty that can’t be addressed in the Frequently Asked Questions, the FAQs on the website, then I need to put aside 30 to 40 minutes to make a telephone call in the middle of my working day. I probably have to listen to numerous messages and press lots of different keys to even begin my call to the right department.

This frustrating experience happens with organisations that I do work for. So I ‘invoice’ for my work. ‘To invoice’, I N V O I C E - that means ‘I bill them’, and then I wait to be paid for the work I’ve done. If there’s any question I have or the invoicing process doesn’t‘ go to plan and I need to call them, I need to phone up, I know that I need to set aside at least 40 minutes of my working day to make this call. I wonder what happened to the concept of ‘Customer Service’? Maybe that’s very 1990s to expect ‘Customer Service’?

The concept of ‘Customer Service’ is truly dead!

But this ‘taking a long time to answer your telephone call’ or ‘not being available at all by phone’ - this seems to be one of the ways in which large organisations distance themselves from their customers and in the case of government organisations, from the people they serve. The automation of systems and the ability to ‘manage your own account’ is in many ways a great thing. I welcome that. It’s just when you have a problem or something’s gone wrong, you may prefer to explain your situation to a human being and that’s when it gets complicated.

I find organisations end up being rather like celebrities! They distance themselves from ordinary people, the ordinary public - whether that is their customers, who they serve, their suppliers or whoever. Large organisations make themselves difficult to contact and the contact is all on their terms. ‘Customer Service’ truly seems to be dead!

Automation and digital barriers - purposeful distancing of customers?

I have several bank accounts, some of them for businesses, some of them personal. And I love online banking. I think it’s extremely convenient and great to use. And I like being able to check my bank balance lying in bed. All of that is great! Again, it’s when you have a problem or a difficulty. Most of the banks are OK, but I have one online banking account and it’s a solely ‘online bank’. They don’t have a presence on the High Street and there is no telephone access to this organisation. When you have a problem, if you’re lucky and you can get past the ‘bot’ on the website and access the chat facility - so that means ‘online texting’ with someone the other end - you will get to communicate with a human being, sort of! The problem with on-screen texting, it takes quite a while to type our your difficulty, to describe the problem in the chat box. And then you have to wait ages for their one line response, usually asking another question! A process, which if it was a live conversation might take five minutes, can easily take half an hour. It also feels like you’re speaking with the least-experienced staff in the organisation. A bunch of teenagers sometimes it feels like! I’ve had to abandon the ‘online chat’ before my problem has been solved or my question has been answered, simply because I’ve run out of time. Very frustrating.

Twice in the last week, I’ve been having a difficulty or a problem or a query with a large organisation and I’ve asked the question ‘Can I speak to someone in that department?’. And I’ve been told, ‘People in that department do not have telephone numbers. They are ‘not customer facing, so no, you can’t speak to them’! I’ve never heard of this before. Surely anyone who works in an organisation has a telephone number and can be contacted? But apparently not!

Is this a UK phenomenon or do you experience this in your country too?

COVID - used as an opportunity to reduce access to healthcare?

And further than this, there are other examples. If I turn to government organisations or public sector organisations in the UK, the NHS is an example of one. And in many ways, I love our NHS. I’ve got high praise for the NHS. The problem is now that things have changed since the COVID pandemic, and I’m not quite sure why. Pre-pandemic, if you wanted to see a doctor, you phoned up your local doctor’s or GP surgery and you spoke to a receptionist and you booked an appointment. It was really simple. During the pandemic, everything was by telephone and the doctors were not available for appointments immediately. Since the pandemic, it seems to work in a completely different way. You might have to be on hold for ages before you get to speak to someone at the doctor’s and then the receptionist questions you closely about what the problem is. Then you’re told ‘They’ll get back to you.’ So you may not even get a doctor’s appointment, you may just get a text message. And if you do get a doctor’s appointment, it will be a telephone consultation, a telephone appointment, possibly several weeks away and you won’t be told what time that’s going to happen. Not very convenient!

So in the UK, it seems that our immediate access to healthcare is gone! Also gone is the personal relationship with your doctor. All of this was understandable during the pandemic, but why are we still in this situation? It’s almost as though people in the NHS have thought there was opportunity to distance patients. So it’s not quite so accessible.

Small businesses - the backbone of the economy, but at significant disadvantage

It happens with businesses too. This week, I’ve been dealing with one of the organisations I work for and they were trying to reclaim some money from me, which I’d been paid, for work I did up to three years ago. I had done the work and I was able to prove this. But because a system error at their end caused an incorrect date to be put on an invoice, they were trying to take the money back from me! Fortunately, I proved I had done the work in the end and my payments were correct. But this organisation, a household name which you may have heard of - I’m not going to mention it, of course - they started the process by simply telling me they were going to deduct money, take money from my next payment from them - so something I had no power or choice over. The contact wasn’t a telephone call, it was email. So effectively I was ‘kept at distance’. There was no one to call, no one to ring. And apparently it was up to me to prove that they were wrong. No sense of ‘innocent til proven guilty’, simply ‘We’re going to take this money off you’. I did spend quite a lot of hours last week, sorting this out and fortunately managed, fortunately was successful in the end. I’ve had the reassurance they’re not going to reclaim payments from me, but there’s no apology, there’s no human being to speak to.

Download The Podcast Audio & Transcript

Solve The Maths Problem To Download Podcast & Transcript

It’s nowhere near as serious - much smaller amounts of money and I do have a choice whether or not I work for this organisation - but it reminded me of the ‘Post Office Scandal’! It’s my own small version of the ‘Post Office Scandal’. Tiny, one-person business - that’s me - against a huge corporate entity that I can’t even speak to. And the onus on me to prove that I earned some money three years ago, which they were querying because of their own computer error. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Survival Of A 9-Year-Old Alone: A Tale Of Resilience?

Whistleblowers silenced in the face of this power imbalance

And through my client work, through my work as a psychotherapist, I hear about all sorts of situations where people, individuals are fighting huge organisations. And the huge organisations have the advantage and they leverage their power. I’ve heard of ‘whistle-blowers’ made to sign non-disclosure agreements. A ‘whistle-blower’ is someone who calls out a situation that shouldn’t be happening in an organisation, where something wrong is happening. But ‘whistleblowers’ are often silenced by legal contracts and ‘Non-Disclosure Agreements’. And people sign them because they’re under threat of money being withheld. I hear of employees with very good track records in their jobs who’re being forced out of their employment in a horrible way, because the company they work for wants to reduce the number of staff, the ‘headcount’, but they don’t want to make the proper payment that they owe to the employee.

I know that currently there are bigger, more serious injustices in the world, but I think these things matter. The power of large organisations over the individual and the misuse of this power - it seems to me such a current theme. It’s almost part of my everyday experience to meet this in the world.


Is it the same for you or is it just a UK thing? Let us know. I’d be really interested to hear from you!

Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

Thank you so much for listening. Please help me tell others about this podcast by reviewing or rating it. And, please share it on social media. You can find more listening lessons and a free English course at



The voice of Adeptenglish, loves English and wants to help people who want to speak English fluently.
🔺Top of page

TAWK is Disabled

Created with the help of Zola and Bulma