Customer service has taken on new meaning in the past year and will continue to evolve as organizations innovate and re-think business practices post-pandemic. Customer expectations remain high, and a bad customer experience can really hurt your business. In a survey of 15,000 consumers, PwC found that 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience, while 92% would completely abandon a company after two or three bad experiences. Likewise, great customer service can be quite profitable. The same survey found that 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience, and 49% will make add-on purchases on the spot after receiving a personalized customer service experience. With so much on the line, hiring and developing emotional intelligence skills in your customer service teams is more important than ever.
Why are Emotional Intelligence Skills Important in Customer Service?
At its core, customer service is about building authentic relationships based on trust. Customer service workers with a high level of emotional intelligence can connect with customers, manage conflict, demonstrate empathy, and manage their stress levels. To provide excellent customer service, employees must have four important skills:
- Self-Awareness – The ability to be aware of your challenges, emotions, and triggers, as well as your personal strengths, is vital to communicating with customers effectively. Highly self-aware employees will also know what motivates them to do a great job every day.
- Self-Management – Customer service can be rewarding, but it is also very stressful. Managing an angry customer while maintaining a cool head is an important part of the job. People with great self-management skills can adapt to changing circumstances, control their emotions and behaviors, and manage stress levels in healthy ways.
- Social Awareness – Customer service agents must be able to recognize the emotional cues of their customers and co-workers. Being aware that a customer is irritated or looking for help is key to providing better service. Empathizing with a customer regarding a service issue is always the first step to recovering from a bad customer experience.
- Relationship Management – Emotionally intelligent individuals will be able to develop positive relationships with clients and build trust and credibility. This trust and credibility will lead to return customers and increased sales.
How Can Managers Improve Emotional Intelligence in Their Teams?
A great customer service experience starts with a great employee experience, so leaders must also be emotionally intelligent. Managers must practice the same skills they want to see in their teams. Providing a supportive environment, building authentic relationships, and modeling healthy stress management are all important components of a workplace culture where employees can thrive. Providing training and development opportunities to sharpen these skills can be helpful for the whole team.