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0932 Rebuilding Consumer Trust

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 932 – Rebuilding Consumer Trust.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 932. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Our website is ESLPod.com. Become a member of ESL Podcast by going to the website. After you do that, you can download the Learning Guide for this episode.

This episode is a dialogue between Karen and Brandon about getting people who buy from your company to trust you again. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Karen: The scandal over our new product line really damaged our image, and we need to rebuild consumer trust.

Brandon: This is going to be an uphill battle. Losing customers is easy. Winning them back will be really hard.

Karen: I agree, but our stock is taking a beating and we need to do something now.

Brandon: Part of the problem was that the rumors about the new product heightened expectations and we just fell short of the mark. We need to always remember to under promise and over deliver.

Karen: Yes, that was a big part of the problem, but we also need to have more transparency. We can’t make major changes without first getting customer input and without notifying them well in advance. Otherwise, our customers feel betrayed.

Brandon: All right, I think we have a place to begin. Should I call a general meeting to talk specifics?

Karen: Sure, and while we’re at it, we can work on employee morale, too!

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue begins with Karen saying to Brandon, “The scandal over our new product line really damaged our image, and we need to rebuild consumer trust.” A “scandal” (scandal) is some activity or behavior that causes people to be surprised or shocked. It's almost always considered a bad thing. “To have a scandal” would be to have some sort of negative situation where someone has done something wrong or an organization has done something wrong. That's a scandal.

There was an old expression: “to give scandal.” “To give scandal” is to do something wrong and have other people find out about it and thereby encourage them to do something wrong: “Well, maybe it's okay to misbehave,” and then they do. That's the idea of giving scandal. Nobody worries about that anymore, apparently, especially here in Hollywood.

Karen is talking about a scandal at their company, the company where Karen and Brandon work. The scandal relates to their new product line. A “product” is something you sell, usually something physical. The other kind of thing a company would sell would be a “service” – they would do something for you. This is a “product line,” meaning it's a whole group of related products.

We're not sure what this scandal is, but Karen says there was a scandal, and the scandal has “damaged” or hurt the company’s “image.” Your “image” in this case means your reputation: how other people view you or how other people see you – what other people think about you.

“We need to rebuild consumer trust,” Karen says. “To rebuild” means to build again, to recreate, especially after something has been damaged or hurt. If you have an earthquake, like we have here in Los Angeles sometimes, and your house falls down, you will need to rebuild it – you will need to put it up again. Or, you could move in instead with your mother-in-law, who lives in another city. Then you wouldn't have to rebuild your house, but you would have to live with your mother-in-law. Your “mother-in-law,” of course, would be the mother of your husband or wife. But here, we're not talking about rebuilding a house. We’re talking about rebuilding consumer trust.

“Consumers” are the people who buy your product or service – your “customers.” “Trust” is the good feelings and positive beliefs that people have about your company and your products. “To rebuild consumer trust” would be to get people to trust you again, to like your company again, to want to buy your products again.

Brandon says, “This is going to be an uphill battle.” “Uphill” (uphill) means to go from the bottom of a hill to the top. “Uphill” is the direction that you are going. The opposite of “uphill” would be “downhill.” That would mean going from the top of the hill to the bottom. We do that, for example, when we ski. We call it “downhill skiing” – to ski from the top of the mountain or the hill to the bottom. Here, we’re talking about “uphill,” which is the opposite of “downhill.” A “battle” (battle) is a fight. So, an “uphill battle” would be a very difficult task, something that would be very difficult to do. Not only do you have to go up the hill, but you also have to fight to get up the hill.

Brandon says, “Losing customers is easy. Winning them back will be really hard.” It's easy to lose a customer; you can just make them mad and they'll go away. To get them to come back again is, however, much more difficult. That is what Brandon is saying here. “To win someone back” means to get them to come back – in this case, to your company to buy your products.

Karen says, “I agree” – it will be difficult – “but our stock is taking a beating and we need to do something now.” The expression “to take (take) a beating (beating)” means to be defeated, or to be damaged or hurt or injured. “To take a beating” would be to have a very negative experience in which you basically are losing whatever battle or whatever situation you are in. The “stock” of the company “is taking a beating,” according to Karen. The “stock” is the partial ownership that people have in your company.

Brandon says, “Part of the problem was that the rumors about the new product heightened expectations and we just fell short of the mark.” Brandon is talking about “rumors.” These are comments that people make, in this case about a product, either good or bad. A “rumor” can be any sort of information that has not yet been confirmed, that is not yet official, but that people are talking about. “Rumors” can be either good or bad. It depends on the situation.

Here, the rumors were about the new product, and they “heightened expectations.” “To heighten expectations” is to make someone believe that something will be really good, will be fantastic, will be better than they could've expected. That's “to heighten expectations.” “To fall short of the mark” (mark) is not to meet those expectations, not to do as well as people thought you were going to do.

If you tell someone, “This is the best movie in the world. You're going to love it,” that is heightening their expectations. Now they’re thinking, “Wow. This is really going to be good.” Then they go see the movie – for example, I don't know, Superman – and they decide that it isn't a very good movie. The movie “falls short of the mark.” The movie does not impress you as much as you were expecting. You don't like it as much as you thought you would. That's what happened here, according to Brandon.

He says, “We need to always remember to under promise and over deliver.” “To under promise” means not to promise very much – to promise someone less, in fact, than what you are actually going to give them. “To over deliver” is the opposite idea. “To over deliver” is to give them more than what they were expecting. When you “under promise and over deliver,” you tell your customer that you're not going to give them very much, so they don't have high expectations, but then you give them more than what they expected, and that makes them even happier.

Karen agrees with Brandon. She says, “Yes, that was a big part of the problem, but we also need to have more transparency.” “Transparency” (transparency) refers to showing people how you are doing something, or being honest with people – telling them exactly what is going on.

Karen says, “We can't make major changes without first getting customer input and without notifying them well in advance.” “Input” would be information, opinions, feedback – in this case, from your customers. “To notify someone” means to inform them, to tell them something, to give them some news. “In advance” means before something happens. You can buy your tickets in advance for the movie. You can go online; you can buy the ticket before you even go to the movie theater.

Karen says they should not make changes in their product without first talking to their customers – “getting customer input” – and without “notifying them” or telling them “well in advance,” before the changes take place. “Otherwise,” Karen says, “our customers feel betrayed.” “To feel betrayed” (betrayed) means to feel someone has treated you unfairly, someone has done something wrong to you. You feel hurt.

“Betrayal” is usually connected with trust. If you are dating someone and you find out that that person is also dating another person and didn't tell you that, well, that would be an example of a betrayal. You would feel betrayed. You trusted that person and then they did something to hurt you. Brandon then asks, “Should I call a general meeting to talk specifics?” “To talk specifics” means to talk about something in great detail, to talk about all the particular things, the individual things, you are going to do to help solve a problem.

Karen says, “Sure, and while we’re at it, we can work on employee morale, too!” “While we’re at it,” means while we are doing this other thing, we can also do something else. For example, “We’re planning to clean our house on Saturday. While we’re at it, I also plan on cleaning the garage.” We’re going to do two things here – one thing and then another thing. “While we’re at it” means to do two things at the same time, or in the process of doing one thing, you're also going to do something else.

Karen is talking about improving “employee morale.” “Morale” (morale) is how people feel about something, especially how excited or motivated they are to accomplish some task. “Employee morale” would be how your employees feel: Do they like what they're doing? Are they excited about what they're doing? Do they want to do what they are doing?

Now let's listen to the dialogue, this time at a native speed.

[start of dialogue]

Karen: The scandal over our new product line really damaged our image, and we need to rebuild consumer trust.

Brandon: This is going to be an uphill battle. Losing customers is easy. Winning them back will be really hard.

Karen: I agree, but our stock is taking a beating and we need to do something now.

Brandon: Part of the problem was that the rumors about the new product heightened expectations and we just fell short of the mark. We need to always remember to under promise and over deliver.

Karen: Yes, that was a big part of the problem, but we also need to have more transparency. We can’t make major changes without first getting customer input and without notifying them well in advance. Otherwise, our customers feel betrayed.

Brandon: All right, I think we have a place to begin. Should I call a general meeting to talk specifics?

Karen: Sure, and while we’re at it, we can work on employee morale, too!

[end of dialogue]

Her scripts never fall short of the mark. I speak, of course, of our wonderful scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I'm Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2013 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
scandal – a tense and exciting situation resulting from a person or organization’s bad and shocking behavior, causing disapproval and surprise

* The senator’s affair with a teenager has become a huge scandal.

image – reputation; how one is perceived by others; the opinions and impressions that people have about a person or organization

* They’re trying to change their company image so that they’re seen as a cosmetic company.

to rebuild – to re-create something, especially after it has been damaged

* How long did it take them to rebuild their home after the fire?

consumer trust – buyers’ positive feelings of loyalty to a company because they believe it provides a good product, treats them well, and is reliable and fair

* This department store tries to build consumer trust by accepting returns of any item, even without a receipt.

uphill battle – something that is very difficult to do and will require a lot of time and effort in order to be accomplished

* Getting rid of all these weeds is an uphill battle. No matter how much we try to kill them, they keep growing back!

to win (someone) back – to convince someone to return to a relationship and feelings of trust after something bad has happened in that relationship

* Iago is trying to win back his girlfriend with flowers and chocolate, but I don’t think it will work. She was really hurt and angered by what he did.

to take a beating – to be defeated; to be decreased or diminished in some way; to be attacked by something

* Housing prices took a beating during the economic downturn.

to heighten expectations – to make someone anticipate or believe that something will be very good, better than previously expected

* Sales in the first three months of this year has heightened expectations of how much the company will earn overall this year.

to fall short of the mark – to not meet expectations; to not meet the standards or requirements of something

* Franklin thought he submitted a strong job application, but apparently it fell short of the mark, because he didn’t get called for an interview.

to under promise and over deliver – to be modest or humble when describing what one will do, but then actually do it much better than people expect; to do more than what one said one would do

* The print shop said that it would take three days to finish the job, but actually finished it in one. They really under promised and over delivered!

transparency – clarity; the condition of allowing people to see how something works or what is really there

* A democracy requires transparency in law-making so that voters can understand how new laws are created.

input – feedback; opinions that are presented, especially during a decision-making process

* Can I get your input on these graphics?

to notify – to inform; to alert someone to something; to make sure someone knows about something

* The power company notified the Schaller family that their electric service will be shut off if they don’t pay their bill by next Friday.

in advance – with anticipation; ahead of time; before the deadline; before something happens

* If you cancel your registration at least two weeks in advance of the event, we will refund your registration fee.

betrayed – the feeling of having been treated unfairly and without loyalty by someone who should have been faithful and respectful

* Didn’t you feel betrayed when your best friend started dating your ex-girlfriend?

to talk specifics – to discuss something in great detail

* Now that we’ve selected a wedding date, it’s time to talk specifics.

while (one is) at it – a phrase used to show that one wants to take something further and continue doing what one is doing, but at a deeper level

* We’re planning to spend Saturday cleaning out the garage, but while we’re at it, I hope we can clean out the attic and basement, too.

morale – how people feel about something, especially whether they are excited about it and have positive feelings, or whether they are depressed and disappointed about something

* The company has an annual summer picnic for employees and their families to try to improve morale.

Comprehension Questions
1. Why does the company need to win back its customers?
a) Because competitors are offering a lower price.
b) Because customers no longer believe in the company and its offerings.
c) Because the company closed its local branches.

2. What does Karen mean when she says, “We also need to have more transparency”?
a) The company needs to change the color of its products.
b) The company needs to lower the sales price of its products.
c) The company needs to be less secretive about what they do.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to win (someone) back

The phrase “to win (someone) back,” in this podcast, means to convince someone to return to a relationship and feelings of trust after something bad has happened in that relationship: “Our political party is going to have to find a way to win back female voters.” The phrase “to win (someone) over” means to persuade someone so that he or she agrees and is supportive: “The Board of Directors is reluctant to change the vacation policy, but I know we can win them over if we make a convincing presentation.” Finally, the phrase “to win (someone’s) heart” means to make someone fall in love and have romantic feelings toward oneself: “Nathan won over Aria’s heart by buying her a cute puppy.”

in advance

In this podcast, the phrase “in advance” means with anticipation, ahead of time, before the deadline, or before something happens: “If you can call us a few hours in advance, we’ll make sure to have your room ready before you arrive.” When talking about money, an “advance” is money that is paid before it is due, especially as a loan: “Does your employer ever offer an advance to help people pay unexpected bills, like medical expenses?” The phrase “to make advances” means to try to start a sexual relationship with someone, especially when it is unwanted by the other person: “Is Sheila really flattered when men make sexual advances toward her at the bar?” Finally, an “advance” can be used to talk about progress and innovation: “What was the greatest technological advance of the 20th century?”

Culture Note
The Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was “signed into law” (became a law) in 1966. It allows people to access information and documents produced and “held” (stored) by the “federal” (national) government. Many people believe that FOIA helps U.S. citizens be “in the know” (aware of what is happening) about the U.S. government. Many states have “similar” (sharing many characteristics, but slightly different) laws.

FOIA creates a “path” (a way to do things) for requesting information from the federal government, but it also protects certain types of information, such as “classified” (allowed to be seen by only qualified individuals) information that is important for “national security” (the needs to protect important information from people and countries that would use it to harm the United States and its citizens). FOIA also “limits” (places restrictions on) access to “personnel files” (documents related to an employee’s qualifications), “compensation” (how much money someone earns), and “performance” (how well one does one’s job).

Individuals and organizations “submit” (send in) FOIA requests to ask to see copies of certain documents. In 2012, more than 650,000 FOIA requests were received. Unfortunately, there is a large “backlog” (the number of items that have not yet been addressed or dealt with) in providing the requested information, although that backlog is “shrinking” (becoming smaller) over time.

FOIA has improved the transparency of the United States government, but the “level” (amount) of transparency has varied under each “administration” (the people who work in the government while a particular individual is President). Some administrations have been “notorious” (famous for something bad) for classifying too much information as secret, “thereby” (in that way) preventing people from seeing it. Other administrations have been more willing to share information with the public.

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - c