Customer Engagement Strategy: Capitalizing on Emotional Intelligence

Nearly every company watches rational market drivers such as price and product innovation. But today’s customers aren’t deciding how to shop based on these traditional rational forces alone. Emotional experience with a brand is also a powerful motivation. Appropriately addressing the customers’ emotions is a key component in any Customer Engagement model.

Customer engagement matters because a loyal customer is an engaged customer. It’s these customers that will bring new customers via their recommendations to others.

What’s important is that Customer engagesmart effects your organization’s ROI, profit margin, and share price. To effectively engage customers, you need to provide an exceptional buying experience, rather than just another product. A simple “one size fits all” approach won’t accomplish this. Managers and front-line employees need to have the tools to help them maximize their own emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is one’s ability to identify the emotions of oneself and others, and to respond appropriately to emotions. In business, it is becoming widely accepted that this intelligence has a great deal of influence in HR. Many studies show that more emotionally intelligent teams are generally more productive. Although many firms are providing emotional intelligence training to improve coworker relations, few customer satisfaction programs train service representatives and front-line managers in reading and responding to customers’ emotions. Providing these tools to customer service employees can be the deciding factor between mediocre and exceptional performance.

Daniel Goleman is the most influential author in popularizing the concept of Emotional Intelligence. In his book, Working with Emotional Intelligence, he illustrates its relevance to business: “How customers feel when they interact with an employee determines how they feel about the company itself. In a psychological sense, the ‘company’ as experienced by the customer is these interactions. Loyalty is lost or strengthened in every interaction between a company and its customers.”

Goleman examines the skills involved in earning customer loyalty. He notes that the most successful service professionals possess the emotional intelligence to accurately gauge a customer’s emotions. They are able to empathize with the customer and understand their emotional needs as they interact with them. From this, they are able to assertively make suggestions according the customer’s desires. Telling the customer how she should feel or what she should buy will often cause resentment on the customer’s part. An emotionally intelligent customer service representative will have the skills to find a mutually beneficial outcome for both the customer and the company.

Many studies have shown the benefits of such service. One example is an investigation performed by L’Oreal. They found that sales agents selected for high emotional intelligence each sold over $90,000 more annually than those selected through a traditional hiring process. Additionally, the salespeople chosen for their emotional intelligence had a 63% lower turnover rate during the first year of employment.


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