Reducing injuries on the farm & Good customer service – IELTS General Reading Passage

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 15-27, which are based on Reading Passages below.

Write answers to questions in boxes 15-27 on your answer sheet.

GT Reading Sample – “Reducing injuries on the farm” & “Good customer service in retail”

Read the text below and answer Questions 15-20.

Reducing injuries on the farm

Farms tend to be full of activity. There are always jobs to be done and some tasks require physical manual work. While it is good for people to be active, there are risk factors associated with this, and efforts need to be made to reduce them.

The first risk relates to the carrying of an excessive load or weight. This places undue demands on the spine and can cause permanent damage. Examples of tasks that involve this risk are moving 50-kilogramme fertiliser bags from one site to another or carrying heavy buckets of animal feed around fields. According to the UK Health and Safety Executive, activities such as these ‘should be avoided at all times’. Their documentation states that other methods should be considered, such as breaking down the load into smaller containers prior to movement or transporting the materials using a tractor or other vehicle. The risk posed by excessive force is made worse if the person lifting is also bending over as this increases pressure on the discs in the back.

If a load is bulky or hard to grasp, such as a lively or agitated animal, it will be more difficult to hold while lifting and carrying. The holder may adopt an awkward posture, which is tiring and increases the risk of injury. Sometimes a load has to be held away from the body because there is a large obstacle in the area and the person lifting needs to be able to see where their feet are going. This results in increased stress on the back; holding a load at arm’s length imposes about five times the stress of a close-to-the-body position. In such cases, handling aids should be purchased that can take the weight off the load and minimise the potential for injury.

Another risk that relates to awkward posture is repetitive bending when carrying out a task. An example might be repairing a gate that has collapsed onto the ground. This type of activity increases the stress on the lower back because the back muscles have to support the weight of the upper body. The farmer should think about whether the job can be performed on a workbench, reducing the need for prolonged awkward posture.

Questions 15-20

Complete the notes below.
Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the text for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 15-20 on your reading answer sheet.

Read the text below and answer Questions 21-27.

Good customer service in retail

Without customers, your retail business would not exist. It stands to reason, therefore, that how you treat your customers has a direct impact on your profit margins.

Some customers just want to browse and not be bothered by sales staff. Try to be sensitive to how much help a customer wants; be proactive in offering help without being annoying. Suggest a product that naturally accompanies what the customer is considering or point out products for which there are special offers, but don’t pressure a customer into buying an item they don’t want.

Build up a comprehensive knowledge of all the products in your shop, including the pros and cons of products that are alike but that have been produced under a range of brand names. If you have run out of a particular item, make sure you know when the next orders are corning in. Negativity can put customers off instantly. If a customer asks a question to which the answer is ‘no’, do not just leave it at that – follow it with a positive, for example: ‘we’re expecting more of that product in on Tuesday’.

Meanwhile, if you see a product in the wrong place on a shelf, don’t ignore it – put it back where it belongs . This attention to presentation keeps the shop tidy, giving the right impression to your customers. Likewise, if you notice a fault with a product, remove it and replace it with another.

When necessary, be discreet. For example, if the customer’s credit card is declined at the till, keep your voice down and enquire about an alternative payment method quietly so that the customer doesn’t feel humiliated. If they experience uncomfortable emotions in your shop, it’s unlikely that they’ll come back.

Finally, good manners are probably the most important aspect of dealing with customers. Treat each person with respect at all times, even when you are faced with rudeness. Being discourteous yourself will only add more fuel to the fire.

Build a reputation for polite, helpful staff and you’ll find that customers not only keep giving you their custom, but also tell their friends about you.

Questions 21-27

Complete the sentences below.
Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the text for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 21- 27 on your answer sheet.

21.  A ……………….. approach to selling is fine as long as you do not irritate the customer.
22.  Recommend additional products and ……………….. without being too forceful.
23.  Know how to compare similar products which have different ……………….. .
24.  Avoid ……………….. by always saying more than ‘no’.
25.  Keep an eye on the ……………….. of goods on the shelves.
26.  If a customer has problems paying with their ……………….. handle the problem with care.
27.  Any ……………….. from a customer should not affect how you treat them.

15. fertiliser / fertilizer
16. animal
17. obstacle
18. aids
19. bending
20. gate
21. proactive
22. special offers
23. brand names
24. negativity
25. presentation
26. credit card
27. rudeness