A few months ago, I was in a gadget shop, testing out a product and at the background was a customer with a faulty device, she was very hysterical, crying, shouting and making abusive statements at the shop assistant. In the passage of time, the animation increased- accompanied with crying and a plethora of insults. I looked behind and saw the shop assistant calm, polite, composed and very helpful. After a few minutes, the customer dropped her voice, stopped the insults, wiped her eyes and dished out apologies to the shop assistant, as she candidly stated that her husband is terminally ill hence, the unwarranted behaviour. At the end she left the store more stable and composed than when she got in. I was astonished and impressed by the shop assistant’s emotional and rational intelligence to handle the issue effectively- gauging that the customer’s actions could be premised on a personal grief, loss or hard time.
The journey to Emotional Intelligence:
That story prompted me to an emotional intelligence voyage, understanding the depth of its meaning and its application to customer experience. In simplistic terms, emotional intelligence is conceived as the ability to observe and monitor one’s own emotions and that of others, to decipher between different emotions and label them effectively, using an emotionally induced information to guide thinking and behaviour. Daniel Goleman, a front runner in the school of emotional intelligence has written a lot of papers on its meaning and difference it has from IQ. In a work titled: “IQ doesn’t predict success”- Daniel Goleman, argues that what distinguishes star employees from their average counterparts are self-awareness, self-management, empathy and social effectiveness (which are all the elements of emotional intelligence) and not IQ, like some perceive it to be. In a different post by Goleman, he highlighted some emotional intelligence elements that distinguish a good leader from an average- a prominent one is Customer Impact- passion for pleasing customers and clients.
Putting all this into a more precise and manageable perspective, Carolyn Gregoire, made an argument as to why mindfulness is the foundation of emotional intelligence. In her article, Mike Coleman, opined: “Mindfulness is the foundation of emotional intelligence” and he went further to state that “Mindfulness, in this context we’re teaching it here, is the same as self-awareness. We are teaching self-awareness. We can develop the capacity to be more aware, to be more attentive, and to be more mindful.” He then concluded with these words: “The nature of the brain is plastic, we can grow and change and transform. To create sustainable compassion, you have to be strong in inner joy. Inner joy comes with inner peace—otherwise it’s not sustainable. And inner peace is highly trainable.” In this context it is safe to say that you can only give what you have- if you are emotionally unstable and stressed, then you would deliver a poor customer experience. We would now briefly look at the transition to emotionally intelligence 2.0 before relating that with customer experience.
The Journey to Emotional Intelligence 2.0
Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves wrote a book titled: “Emotional intelligence 2.0.” In this book they tried to bridge the gap in the understanding of emotional intelligence- as some people mistake emotional intelligence as some form of charisma or gregariousness- and others see it as something that is natural- you either have it or not. To this effect they argued that the daily challenge of dealing effectively with emotions is very important to the human condition because our brains are hard-wired to give emotional superiority. The way this pans out is that everything you see, hear, smell, touch and taste journey’s through your body in the shape of electric signals. These signals supposedly navigate from one cell until they arrive their ultimate destination- the brain. They then have to travel to the frontal lobe (which is behind the brain) before reaching the location where rational and logical thinking takes place.
This clearly indicates why you experience things emotionally before logical reasoning steps in. They then proposed emotional intelligence 2.0 that helps people to control their emotions better through 66 strategies- and these strategies are all categorised under the four competencies (Self-awareness, self- management, social awareness and relationship management) as spelt out by Goleman. Critical to their goal was also to help people increase their emotional intelligence quotient score- which basically indicates to what degree a person is able to perceive, control and evaluate emotions.
Emotional intelligence 2.0 strategies in Customer experience
In line with Goleman’s core competencies in emotional intelligence, these would help improve customer experience:
Self-awareness — for this strategy, there is the need to read one’s emotions and recognize their impact while using gut feelings to guide decisions. The opening scenario in this piece, presented a customer service agent being spoken to in an unfriendly and animated manner. The agent was emotionally intelligent enough to be aware of the environment and the customers’ emotions- realizing the customer could be having a challenge or tough time in their personal life.
Self-management — involves controlling one’s emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances. When the customer was crying and acting all hysterical, the agent spoke to her quietly as she acknowledged the customer’s point of view- but never for once raised her voice at the customer.
Social awareness — the ability to sense, understand, and react to others’ emotions while understanding social networks. The customer did limited listening but did most of the talking. The agent was socially aware enough to nod in agreement to the customer’s complaints. She also knew there were other customers in the store- which made her to use every trick in her book to pacify the customer.
Relationship management — this is conceived as the ability to inspire, influence, and develop others while managing conflict. The lady had a terminally ill husband, the customer service agent was able to sympathize with her and inspire her to believe in a miracle. She did an amazing job in pacifying and inspiring a hysterical and upset customer.
Emotional intelligence 2.0 expresses how people experience things emotionally before logical reasoning steps in. The best way to deliver an emotionally stable customer experience is to remain calm as the stimuli travels through one’s emotion to the part of the brain that handles logical reasoning.