Role of Emotional Intelligence in Customer Service

“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far”. Daniel Goleman

In the last exposition, we spoke about the importance of staying connected with customers. Staying connected is important as it enables companies to keep a watch on more than just price, new products, market innovations, and other such rational aspects – it is about keeping a pulse on the emotions of customers. Today’s customers no longer buy only for logical reasons – their top reason is usually emotional and hence the need to understand the role of emotional intelligence in the realm of customer service. Customers are influenced based on the emotional experiences they have with a brand and the company. Companies that understand the role of emotional intelligence would be better equipped to make their customers feel better about doing business with them.

Customers of today are smarter and know from where and how they can gain more rewards, benefits, and discounts. They are also more sensitive to shoddy service and poor quality products and do not hesitate to express their annoyance or vent their anger on highly visible platforms. A company that has more such instances would obviously be ignoring the role of emotional intelligence and would be headed towards ‘doom’. It is extremely easy for customers to change their perception about a company – from positive to negative. The converse is not that easy. When we speak about customers and the role of emotional intelligence, we refer to both a company’s internal (employees) and external customers. The ability to connect truly, make them feel special and important, and consistently exhibit behaviours that show them appreciation are all traits connected with the role of emotional intelligence.

Customer service staff of a company must understand, have requisite training, and be constantly aware of the role of emotional intelligence. Without this awareness, no other skills or knowledge would be of much use. Emotional intelligence equips companies with the empathy they require to understand a customer and the emotional reasons for their actions. A high emotional intelligence quotient would enable a company to have happier customers and therefore, higher customer engagement levels. Engaged customers eventually become loyal – they provide more business, give illustrious testimonials, and bring in more and new business for a company. This in turn makes a company more profitable and significantly raises its market share and reputation. These few customers provide a higher ROI than a large number of less engaged ones.

We have mentioned earlier that not all customers are alike. The same is true of their emotions – every customer would have a different emotional reason and unless companies ensure the role of emotional intelligence, it would be impossible to understand the range of emotions. No company can afford to ignore or say that they would not focus on the customer’s emotions – that would be a self-defeating and destructive move. The problem is that to understand the role of emotional intelligence, companies must first know what it entails and encompasses. A high level of emotional intelligence allows people to understand their own emotions and those of others, and respond to both in the most appropriate manner. This is the very premise of great customer service – customer service representatives deal with customer emotions all the time. Unfortunately, most of the emotions they deal with are negative and can have a detrimental impact on them unless they understand the role of emotional intelligence and how it can help them manage their own emotions in the face of negativity.

One of the top priorities for any company would be to equip their employees and particularly the customer service staff with emotional intelligence. This would entail training, coaching, and regular monitoring on how effectively the staff understands the role of emotional intelligence and puts it into practice. By empowering employees with this type of ‘intelligence’, a company can easily find its way to success. The higher the level of emotional intelligence in customer service representatives, the better would their capability be to assess and gauge the emotions of customers. This would give them the ability to empathize and connect emotionally with customers, and instead of reacting angrily to customer outbursts, they would be more in control to respond calmly and give the customer what they need.

The role of emotional intelligence while serving customers is to find the best options, products, or service to suit the individual needs of each customer. Customized products and tailor-made solutions find more favour with customers than regular, one-size-fits-all approach. Of course, none of the customization would have any effect if customers were subject to poor service or were treated badly. A lack of emotional intelligence in customer service is usually the top factor for shoddy treatment of customers– among other reasons. A single such instance and even one unhappy customer could easily tarnish the reputation of a company, sometimes irreparably. If a company suffers due to individuals with average skills, they should try incorporating emotional intelligence into the fabric of their business. An employee may not instantly have the answers to a customer’s problems, but if the employee can feel the inconvenience and frustration of the customer, she or he would do anything to ensure the customer’s problem is alleviated. This is the role of emotional intelligence.

As the understanding of the critical nature of the role of emotional intelligence rises, companies seem to be making conscious efforts towards inculcating and building this skill in all their employees. Of course, any new endeavour has a better chance of success when the leaders of the company show how. They must first practice it within the organization, such that their employees feel valued, important, and be convinced that the company would do anything to keep them happy. For customer service staff especially, these feelings are extremely critical to help them in their job. Dealing with angry and rude customers is stressful and can seriously challenge the limits of anyone’s patience. We do not mean that customer service staff should take abuse lightly, but in dealing with customers who are frustrated because of a company lapse, it is vital that they understand and use emotional intelligence while responding.

We know the skills that every customer service person and anyone dealing with customers in anyway, require. The role of emotional intelligence is paramount and the good news is that this skill can be learned, developed, and disseminated. There are a number of courses and professional agencies that help companies understand the role of emotional intelligence and help them use it in their everyday interactions. By increasing emotional intelligence, a company and its representatives would become and remain aware of their own negative emotions and those of others. Without the awareness, people tend to give out negativity in their non-verbal communication, which could easily be the cause of stress, conflicts, and huge problems especially with customers.

Understand the role of emotional intelligence, harness its power, and practice it daily to come across as empathetic and honest in every customer interaction. This in turn will lead to happy and engaged customers, which is excellent news for any business.

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