According to one recent study, businesses lose a collective $62 billion in revenue per year due to one unfortunate reason: poor customer service. This number has increased almost 50 percent from just two years prior – pointing to a problem that is only getting worse as time goes on. These days, it isn’t enough to simply respond quickly to customer inquiries and offer guidance whenever possible. You need to create a true, emotional connection with people and use customer service as a way to hone and strengthen it.
This is also where emotional intelligence in terms of customer service comes into play – something that can not only improve your efforts, but also create a new competitive advantage for yourself in a wide range of ways that are worth exploring.
Emotional Intelligence and Customer Service: What You Need to Know
You need to start thinking of customer service as more than just a utility-based interaction. It’s about more than just a client with a question to be answered – after all, the vast majority of their questions can easily be answered in just a few seconds on Google in a much more straightforward way. They made contact directly with your brand for a reason – and that is an opportunity that you need to use to your advantage through emotional intelligence.
In many ways, success in this regard begins and ends with your ability to care about the person you’re speaking to and the issue you’re having. “Compassion” is a trait that should be a requirement for anyone in your organization that has the potential to make contact with a customer, regardless of whether they’re technically in customer service or not. Always look for reasons to care about the customer you’re dealing with and the chances are good you’re going to find one.
Likewise, another key to using emotional intelligence in customer service involves raising your own awareness. Don’t be afraid to check in on how YOU are feeling. Are you free of negative emotions that might hinder your relationship? Are you able to read the emotions of the people you’re speaking with, both in person and over the phone? You should be.
But the real way to leverage emotional intelligence to your advantage in terms of customer service involves both truly and deeply listening to what your customer is experiencing and your ability to maintain a positive demeanor throughout. Throw out “the script” and treat every interaction as unique as it actually is. Listen carefully and search for the bigger picture – find out what the customer needs and what you have to do to give it to them. Be solution-oriented at all times. Show acceptance of their issue (and apologize if appropriate) and move on quickly. Don’t dwell on the problem – focus your attention on the solution.
If you (and your team) can master these skills, you’ll be able to use emotional intelligence to do more than just answer customer questions or solve customer problems efficiently. You’ll be in the best possible position to create better outcomes across the board, taking a standard or even negative customer experience and turning it into a positive one. This will strengthen the emotional connection you have with those customers, thus increasing brand loyalty at the same time.