Great customer service and customer experience requires emotional intelligence (EQ) – Interview with Jo Causon of The Institute of Customer Service


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emotional intelligence in customer service and customer experience

It’s been a wee while since I’ve published an interview here on the blog. So, following on from the interview, Creating a great place to work is the best business investment decision you could ever make – Interview with Henry Stewart, that I did in early December, today I am excited to introduce you to Jo Causon, the CEO of the Institute of Customer Service, the independent, professional membership body for customer service.

This interview makes up number seventeen in the series of interviews with business leaders in the ‘customer’ space, leading authors, thought leaders and general all round good guys and gals, that I think that you will find interesting and helpful in growing your businesses.

The rationale for the interview is that I reached out on Twitter to the Institute via Twitter and asked as I thought Jo would have a lot of interesting stuff to say. As my Mum always said: ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’. Jo didn’t disappoint.

Below are some highlights from our interview:

  • The Institute’s research supports the idea that customer service is becoming the only differentiator or a key differentiator now and in the coming years
  • Yes, we are in an economic situation that is making us more discerning and choosy but we still want great service and many people are willing to pay for better service
  • The rise of customer centricity is not a cyclical thing it is here to stay
  • Customers are becoming watchdogs
  • Remember the ‘Customer is King’ from the 80s? Jo thinks that we are going through a renaissance in customer service and that it is much deeper than it was back then
  • Organisations need to think about how they are structured and how they can become more nimble in order to become more customer centric
  • Customer centricity has to start in the board in terms of aligning your vision and strategy for your business with your customer service strategy. But. that strategy then has to run horizontally and vertically through the business so that employees are really empowered and given the right tools and processes to make the right decisions
  • We need to break down silo cultures if we are to deliver a better overall customer experience
  • The quest for customer centricity is not another change initiative but goes to the heart of how we do business, our culture, how we reward success and how we recognise our people
  • Jo holds up LV as a great example of a business that is working within a highly regulated environment but they also allow for a certain amount of freedom for their people to make the right choices with regards to their customers
  • Building on that example, she says that it is leadership that is the key and has the responsibility for making it clear how we are going to treat our customers, how we are going to run our business and how everyone fits into that picture. It is, therefore, leadership that makes the really big difference
  • When you align your strategy with your people and your processes then that is when you will deliver the customer experience that you desire
  • The reality around business has changed and is being amplified with social media. We, as businesses, can’t change that but we do, however, have to figure out how we respond to it
  • The Institute’s Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) research identifies 5 key areas that customers prioritise. However, one of the key areas is how well we, as businesses, problem solve and have we done it in a way that is both personal and engaging for the customer
  • In terms of social media and its role in customer service, Jo believes it will be an important channel for many companies but it is about having the appropriate mix of channels depending on your customers, what they want. However, those channels must work in harmony and not in isolation. We, as consumers, don’t want to have to repeat our details or answer the same questions to three different channels or three different people so we come back again to the alignment of strategy, people and process
  • Better customer service and delivery of a greater customer experience requires a higher degree of emotional intelligence
  • Jo lists her top priorities for creating a customer centric business as:
  • One, engagement of the board. Having a board that really understands what being customer centric really means and how they align their communication strategies
  • Two, how we recruit, recognise, reward and engage our staff
  • Three, alignment of all of the above in terms of vision, strategy, people and process
  • Jo lists some quick wins as:
  • Talk to your team
  • Listen to what your customers are saying
  • Then, look at the alignment of the two and you will quickly see what your key hotspots are
  • Focusing on creating a customer centric business will mean that you will have happier people, you will have happier customers and you will get growth
  • Let’s not be too negative. The Institute’s CSI data shows that in the UK we are getting better overall at customer service

jo causon

About Jo (taken from the Institute’s bio page)

Jo Causon took up her appointment as chief executive of The Institute of Customer Service in March 2009.

Jo joined the Institute from the Chartered Management Institute, where she had been director of marketing and corporate affairs since July 2005. She previously held director roles in brand and business consulting and prior to that was both head of group marketing and strategic executive to the director-general at City & Guilds. Jo also has over eleven years experience in the financial services sector.

Under Jo’s leadership the Institute has worked in partnership with its members and other stakeholders in realising the increased return on investment that excellent customer service can deliver and the role it can play as a motivator for those working within an organisation, enabling those organisations to keep their talent as well as their customers.

She also believes that by working to develop customer service excellence organisations will not only survive the current challenging economic conditions but will also prosper and help to lift the UK out of recession earlier than would otherwise have been the case.

If you want to to talk to Jo on anything you’ve read, you can contact her at [email protected], connect with the Institute at their website ( or via Twitter at @instituteofcs.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


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