Every customer who interacts with your company wants to walk away feeling as though their needs have been met and they have been treated with respect. Unfortunately, many people experience unsatisfactory encounters with businesses, and in turn, spread the bad news to anyone who will listen. You can prevent this from happening to your company by utilizing emotional intelligence in your customer interactions. When emotional intelligence and customer satisfaction are the focal point of business transactions, customer loyalty and company growth are inevitable.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence refers to a person’s ability to read, interpret, and even control the emotions of themselves or those around them. In simple terms related to business – do you know how to use empathy to help your customers feel valued? Managing emotions in customer service is important from the very beginning of your interaction with a consumer, and is crucial when they are unhappy with the company or product.
Emotional intelligence is the skill of comprehending emotions—both your own and the emotions of those around you. This involves:
- Understanding motives
- Showing empathy
- Regulating emotions
- Possessing social skills
Those with high emotional intelligence will be more in tune with how they are feeling and how those feelings affect their actions. They’ll also be more in tune with how the people they interact with are feeling, and they’ll act in a way that is sensitive to those emotions.
How Does Emotional Intelligence Affect Customer Service?
Emotional intelligence consists of two major components. The first is an awareness of your own emotions and the ability to maintain control over them in difficult situations. The second is an awareness of others’ emotions and the ability to influence them toward a positive outcome.
When it comes to emotional intelligence in customer service, both of these components play an important role. Employees need to be able to resist becoming offended by angry customers, as well as calmly resolve any issues that arise. Ideally, an employee will be able to guide the customer to feeling valued and satisfied with the outcome of the conversation.
Emotional intelligence is an important aspect of understanding and serving customers. It influences the way your business presents itself to customers, the way people think about your brand, and the way you serve customers across every step of the sales process.
Agents with a high EQ will be better at perceiving and managing emotions in customer service. This makes them better equipped to help customers and even increase profitability by boosting overall customer satisfaction. Agents who have strong emotional intelligence are usually:
- Calm, even when under pressure
- Good at resolving conflicts in an efficient way
- Understanding of coworkers and the customers they interact with
- More thoughtful when making decisions in the workplace
Though it may seem as if EQ is a natural trait, many customer service agents need to learn emotional intelligence. Proper training can help all agents to increase their emotional intelligence and better serve the needs of your customer base.
Uses of Emotional Intelligence in Customer Service
There are endless ways you can use emotional intelligence to enhance customer engagement and improve your customer service department overall. Emotional intelligence training is an effective way of raising awareness among agents and helping them to accurately read and react to the emotions of customers.
Take a look at just a few of the ways emotional intelligence can help customer service agents. Emotional intelligence training can:
- Improve the ability to listen to customers.
- Change negative language into positive language.
- Instill a sense of calm in high-pressure situations.
- Enable agents to seek solutions rather than focusing on problems.
- Provide greater awareness when conflicts are on the horizon.
- Assist when connecting and building relationships with customers.
- Help agents gain greater empathy.
The Value of Self-Awareness in Customer Service
An employee exercising self-awareness in customer service situations is highly valuable. Fortunately, this skill is one that can be acquired by your current team members if needed. However, it is also helpful to look for this skill and when employees are hired. A natural ability to empathize with customers and coworkers will be beneficial for problem-solving in many job aspects. When difficult customer service situations arise, a self-aware employee is better able to use their emotional intelligence to enhance customer engagement.
Emotional Intelligence in an Interview
During job interviews, you can look for the following characteristics to determine whether a candidate possesses emotional intelligence.
- Good Listener – Are they actively engaged when you outline your expectations for the available position?
- Effective Communicator – Do they clearly and confidently answer questions, even when describing past workplace challenges?
- Positive Attitude – Are they polite? Enthusiastic? Friendly?
- Good Problem Solver – Are they able to empathize with others in hypothetical job scenarios? Do they provide reasonable solutions to problems?
- Being Genuine – Do they demonstrate emotional availability by showing that they care about what they do, and what the job’s position entails?
- Talks About Growth – Does the interviewee have the ability to acknowledge mistakes and learn from them?
Why Emotional Intelligence Matters in Customer Service
Now you know there are many ways to apply emotional intelligence to customer service. But why should this matter to you? How can emotional awareness improve customer service?
Above all, EQ will improve agent communication with customers. They’ll be able to solve problems more quickly, connect with customers on a deeper level, and be more calm and positive throughout the process.
These results will lead to happier customers who report higher levels of customer satisfaction. And when customer satisfaction is high, you’ll notice a difference in your bottom line, too.
How to Assess the Emotional Intelligence of Your Customer Service
In contrast to KPIs like resolution times or call abandonment rates, emotional intelligence is a qualitative, soft skill that may seem hard to measure. And without an effective means for measuring emotional intelligence, you may be tempted to avoid worrying about it altogether.
Fortunately, there are many ways to assess the emotional intelligence of your customer service department.
1. Use Reflection Questions for Self-Assessment
There are many questions an agent can ask themselves to improve self-awareness and increase emotional intelligence. Such questions might include:
- How well did I recognize the customer’s mood?
- Did I meet the needs of the customer?
- Did I change the customer’s perception of the company? Was it for better or for worse?
- Did I change my behavior based on the mood of the customer?
2. Create Benchmarks
It’s much easier to measure EQ when you define your baselines for performance. This will let agents know what behavior they should be striving for and give them a measuring stick for ongoing improvement. Benchmarks can be created for each step of customer interaction. Then they can be measured by using scorecards.
3. Quantify Emotional Intelligence Using Scorecards
It would be incredibly time-consuming and tedious to assess the emotional intelligence of an agent in every interaction with a customer. This is why self-assessment and scorecards are so important. Allowing an agent to score their performance will lead to greater self-awareness and reflection. Use the evaluation questions listed in the first step to create effective, meaningful scorecards.
How to Show EQ in Different Customer Service Mediums
Emotional intelligence should be demonstrated in every customer service medium, from face-to-face interactions to email and social media responses. Though text-based customer service can make it more difficult to read and convey emotion, this makes it all the more important for agents to hone their EQ skills. Here are a few ideas for showing high emotional intelligence across customer service mediums:
In-Person or Video Chat
- Show positive body language.
- Practice active listening.
- Repeat back the customer concern.
- Make eye contact.
- Nod when listening.
Over the Phone
- Use positive language.
- Let customers know you hear and understand them.
- Tell the customer what you’re doing and how long it will take.
Text, Email, Live Chat, or Social Media
- Wait to respond to angry emails (until the agent has planned a thoughtful response).
- Tell customers when you’re looking something up.
- Use custom responses whenever possible.
- Avoid overused phrases and cliches that can undermine sincerity.
Tips for Using EQ in Customer Service
While it’s easy to sit and read about emotional intelligence in customer service, it can be difficult to implement EQ training. You can try these tricks right now to improve your emotional intelligence while service customers.
- Create cool-down processes to help control emotions.
- Craft customized responses.
- Anticipate conflicts and react accordingly.
- Focus on solutions.
- Be transparent and honest.
- Show warmth.
- Practice patience.
What is the Meaning of “Internal Customer?”
An internal customer is someone within your company who depends on other employees to complete a specific process. For example, your sales team may rely on your customer service team to complete the ordering process for your customers. In this situation, the emotional intelligence of your customer service employees will directly affect the job satisfaction of your sales team. To maintain good relationships among employees, there must be an understanding of how to use emotional awareness within the company, as well as with customers.
How to Improve Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace
If you have employees with less than desirable emotional intelligence, it is possible to provide training and encouragement for developing this ability. When the employee is aware of the need for personal growth and willing to work on this skill, they can focus on a few key areas. For example, they can learn to become aware of situations that trigger stress and negative emotions, and then find ways to maintain control when these triggers are present. If you have multiple employees who need improvement, there are groups who provide emotional intelligence service orientation at the corporate level.
ROI Call Center Solutions Can Help
Another great option for combining emotional intelligence and customer satisfaction is to hire an independent call center to handle questions and customer interactions. ROI Call Center Solutions excels at assisting companies with developing ongoing relationships with satisfied customers through the use of emotional intelligence. Each of our technicians is trained and qualified to provide the best possible tech support for your customers. Contact us for a free quote and to learn more about how ROI can help you meet your customer service needs.