Using Emotional Intelligence to Excel in Customer Service
This Post Originally Appeared on CEPro.com on April 13, 2017
Emotional intelligence, or EQ, has been called ‘the other kind of smart.’ Here’s how to use it to your advantage to beat your competitors in customer service.
What if I told you there was a single skill you could master that would drastically improve the level of service you provide your clients? What if I also told you this skill could be applied effectively to even the most difficult service and support situations you deal with? Well, such a skill does exist, and it’s called emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is a broad topic, the study of which covers many areas of life including business and family. But let’s take a specific look at a how the application of emotional intelligence can be applied to providing your clients with an exceptional service experience.
What Exactly Is Emotional Intelligence?
Before we dive into how emotional intelligence can be leveraged to provide excellent service, let’s start with a quick definition.
The concept of “emotional intelligence” was first popularized in a paper written in 1990 by two prominent psychologists, Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer, who defined it in the following way:
“A form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action.”
The theory of emotional intelligence, or EQ, has since been the topic of countless studies and articles, as well as numerous books, many of which include specific examinations of how EQ can be applied in business in general, and customer service in particular.
Often referred to as “the other kind of smart,” emotional intelligence is typically abbreviated as EQ (emotional quotient), in contrast to IQ (intelligence quotient). Those who subscribe to the theory of emotional intelligence believe that, when it comes to finding success in business and in life, having a high EQ is arguably more important than having a high IQ.
Step 1: Start with Yourself
As the original definition states, the first half of the EQ equation is the ability to recognize and control your own emotions. This skill is a significant asset in the world of service and support, where clients are often frustrated and tensions frequently run high.
Dealing with these frustrated clients can easily trigger internal feelings of anxiety, defensiveness or impatience. Practitioners of EQ will instantly recognize what is taking place when these emotions appear. Knowing that any outward expression of these feelings will only aggravate the support situation, someone with high EQ can consciously act in a productive manner in spite of such negative emotions.
By managing your emotions in this way, you can focus your energy where it really counts — on de-escalating the urgency of the situation and methodically working towards a resolution. As an added benefit, this calm and collected approach can have a contagious effect on your client, calming them down by ensuring them that you are in control and focused on a solution.
Step 2: Read the Client’s Emotions
The other, equally important half of the EQ equation is the ability to recognize emotional cues in others, and then leveraging that information to drive your interactions.
In service and support situations, these cues can be obvious — a client who is yelling at you because their system “never works” for example. But often these cues will be much more subtle, requiring a trained ear to pick up on.
The key thing to note is that emotion lies squarely at the root of all tech support issues. A client experiencing Netflix issues is not upset because the server is down, they’re upset because of the inconvenience this disruption is causing to their plans.
While this client may not outwardly express frustration to you, subtle comments or even their manner of speaking, might clue you into a level of disappointment that could easily be lost otherwise. Picking up on these cues and empathizing with your client can mean the difference between a satisfactory service experience, and an exceptional one.
EQ for Client Services
Emotional intelligence is a broad field of study covering everything from personal improvement to best practices in business.
Personally, I had the good fortune of being introduced to this concept by a mentor of mine over a decade ago. I’ve since found few situations that are better suited to the application of EQ than client services.
By effectively recognizing and managing your own emotions, as well as those of the people around you, you can ensure that you are always in the right frame of mind to provide an exceptional service experience.
Are you a business owner or service manager? Did you find this article helpful? If so, check out this post as well – Don’t Approach Service with a Project Mentality.
There are plenty of articles in our blog that you might find helpful. Or even better, use the contact form below if you want help taking your service and RMR efforts to the next level!