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Monday
Apr022012

12. Emotionally intelligent customer service tips 1-5

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute.

Working with emotional intelligence is very important in customer service. Why? Because customers have emotions that need to be managed. 

Fleeting aspects of customer service make an emotional impactFor example, some customers may be angry or frustrated, while others may feel helpless, reticent or impatient.

Any complaints you receive, for example, will be fuelled by emotions.

Any demands or requests customers make will be driven by emotions.

Any accolades customers give your business will be based on the emotional experience they had when dealing with your organisation or business.

Whether customers buy from you or a competitor will be influenced by how they feel about you and your organisation. Whether your customers come back to your organisation and give you repeat business is also driven by emotions.

How your customers feel influences what they do.

Working with emotional intelligence in customer service

To give the best customer service you therefore need to manage your customers' emotions. You also need to manage your own emotions.

For example, if you become irritated you may find it harder to think clearly and say the best thing than if you feel warm and kind, or calm and content.

Here are some tips on providing the best customer service in an emotionally intelligent way.

Working with emotional intelligence 1: Accept that emotions matter

You may not like having to consider emotions when managing people, but people's behaviour is influenced by how they feel.

For example, if customers feel delighted with decisions you have made on their behalf they are more likely to become raving fans and spread positive gossip about your organisation than if they feel bitter or resentful. The emotion governs the behaviour, and customer service is all about managing behaviour. 

Word-of-mouth marketing is said to be the best form of marketing. What you do and how well you manage customer emotions has a large role to play in it. Even fleeting contact with customers can leave a positive or negative emotional impact.

Customer service is all about managing emotions. Accept this as your first step and you are on your way to success and working with emotional intelligence in a positive and productive way.

Working with emotional intelligence 2: Look for customers' emotions

Keep an eye and ear open for clues as to how your customers are feeling. Become an emotion watcher - detect their emotions. Do they feel upset, furious, resentful, powerless, ripped off, pleased, satisfied, concerned or disappointed?

When you have this data on them you have a really important clue as to the best way to manage them.

For example, if Mrs Jemiah is standing in front of the counter and looks anxious as you speak to her, it may be best for you to provide reassurance. In contrast, if she is impatient it may be best to increase the speed with which she is served.

Emotional knowledge on your customers can help you choose the best service for each individual. Working with emotional intelligence in this way can increase customer satisfaction and therefore help you build your business. 

Working with emotional intelligence 3: No nasty thoughts

What kinds of thoughts do you have about your customers? Do they help or hinder the service you provide? Let's admit it, we have all thought nasty things about customers, and we can produce many negative words to describe them. 

This does not help you to provide the best customer service. Nor does it do you any good. Instead, it is more likely to make you impatient or negative towards them, and to increase your stress levels.

For example, if you think someone is gorgeous are you going to give them better or worse service than someone you think is arrogant or a know-all?

We all know that if you think someone is gorgeous you are going to treat then in a better way than if you think they are a stupid loser.

Thus, thinking kindly of our customers is going to help us provide better customer service than when we think badly of them, isn't it?

Working with emotional intelligence includes monitoring your thoughts and thinking kindly of your customers.

Maybe you imagine that the customer won't know what you are thinking? Sadly, this is not true. Your negative thoughts can leak out in your voice tone, the look on your face and even in the attitude you convey when serving them.

Just a look can be enough to let people know what you are thinking!

Working with emotional intelligence 4: Keep breathing

When people get upset, shocked or angry their breathing will usually become faster and more shallow. One way to help you to manage your own emotions, therefore, is to manage your breathing.

Monitor your breathing.  

  • Firstly, don't hold your breath but let it come in and out easily.
  • Secondly, allow your breath to go deep inside as if you are breathing into your stomach.
  • Thirdly, if it speeds up, take a few calming breaths to settle it down again.

Calm, quiet breathing can help you to stay calm with your customers, and this is a great sign that you are working with emotional intelligence. When you are calm there is more chance that your customers will be too, and conflicts with negative customers are less likely to escalate.

Working with emotional intelligence 5: Don't have your buttons pressed

Everyone is more sensitive to particular words and phrases, looks, or gestures than other ones. For example, I used to react badly to being called "too sensitive". Others react badly to not being thanked, or being taken for granted, being sworn at, or being called bossy, stupid or useless.

What words or actions cause you to react?

Know what your buttons are. Then take away the reactions - so people can call you what they like, and they don't have the pleasure of getting a reaction.

By working with emotional intelligence and not letting people press your buttons the power stays with you, you stay in control, and you can provide the best customer service.

How emotionally intelligent is your customer service?

Develop your organisation's emotional intelligence with customers, now

There is so much that you can do to develop the emotional intelligence of employees and build the skills involved across your organisation so customers are managed superbly. The EI Institute has a number of options to help you:
  1. There are high energy, interactive and practical emotional intelligence workshops. Of particular value to your customer service staff is the one "How to keep your cool with difficult people".
  2. There is a dynamic keynote speech on  "A duck's back: Keeping cool with negativity" which will get your event buzzing and help people in customer service.
  3. There is 1-1 emotional intelligence coaching for managers and executives.
  4. There are emotional intelligence CDs, DVDs and books particularly the unique and practical 2 CD set, "How to deal with difficult people WITHOUT GETTING UPSET". Bulk discounts are available so all your employees or team members may have their own copy.

For more details or to make a booking e-mail us now or pick up the phone and call us.