Call center agents with high emotional intelligence (EI) tend to have substantially higher customer satisfaction ratings than agents with moderate to low EI. This blog will provide insights into what EI is, how to determine your EI, and how to use EI in call center interactions to significantly improve service and customer satisfaction.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (also known as emotional quotient or EQ) is the ability to understand your and other people's emotions and to manage your emotions positively to communicate effectively and maintain good relations. In 1990 researchers John Mayer and Peter Salovey coined the phrase EI, but psychologist Daniel Goleman later popularized it.
These four attributes collectively contribute to emotional intelligence, enabling individuals to navigate their own emotions and relationships successfully.
How Emotionally Intelligent Are You?
Most call center agents and managers feel they have a sense of their own emotional intelligence. However, according to research by organizational psychologist Tasha Eurich, 95 percent of people think they're self-aware, but only 10 to 15 percent actually are, and that can pose problems for your employees.
In order to bring out the best in yourself, it's helpful to assess your emotional intelligence. One easy method to understand your EI is to complete Mindtool's free emotional intelligent questionnaire. To get the most out of the EI questionnaire by completing 360-degree feedback, in which you evaluate your EI and can compare it to others' (e.g., peers, supervisor) opinion of your EI.
On Mindtool's EI questionnaire, evaluate each statement as you actually are rather than as you think you should be. When you've finished, click "Calculate My Total" to determine your Emotional Intelligence rating.
How to Use Emotional Intelligence for Call Center Agents?
Emotional intelligence plays a crucial role in the success of call center agents for delivering great customer satisfaction. EI helps them effectively understand and manage their own emotions and the emotions of customers, leading to improved customer satisfaction and positive interactions. Here are some tips on how call center agents can use emotional intelligence:
- Self-awareness: Agents should develop self-awareness by recognizing their own emotions and understanding how they affect their performance. They should regularly assess their emotional state and take steps to manage any negative emotions before interacting with customers.
- Empathy: Agents should strive to understand and empathize with the emotions and concerns of customers. This involves actively listening to their needs, acknowledging their feelings, and demonstrating understanding. Showing empathy can help build rapport and trust with customers.
- Active listening: Call center agents should practice active listening, which involves giving full attention to the customer's words, tone, and emotions. They should avoid interrupting, provide verbal cues to show they are engaged (e.g., using phrases like "I understand" or "I hear you"), and summarize or paraphrase the customer's concerns to ensure accurate understanding.
- Emotional regulation: Agents need to manage their emotions effectively, especially in challenging situations. They should learn techniques to stay calm and composed, such as deep breathing exercises or taking short breaks if needed. This helps agents respond to customers in a professional and positive manner.
- Adaptability: Call center agents should be adaptable and flexible in their approach. Different customers may have varying emotional states, so agents should be prepared to adjust their communication style accordingly. This might involve being more patient with upset customers or using a more upbeat tone for enthusiastic customers.
- Conflict resolution: Agents should be equipped with conflict resolution skills to handle difficult situations. This involves staying calm, actively listening to the customer's concerns, and offering appropriate solutions or compromises. Agents should focus on de-escalating conflicts and finding mutually beneficial resolutions.
- Continuous learning: Agents should actively seek feedback and learn from their experiences. They can review past interactions, identify areas for improvement, and seek guidance or training to enhance their emotional intelligence skills. This ongoing learning process helps agents refine their emotional intelligence and deliver better customer service.
By incorporating these practices into their daily interactions, call center agents can leverage emotional intelligence to create positive experiences for customers, enhance customer satisfaction, and build long-term relationships.
Is emotional intelligence something you can learn? According to Susan Kruass Whitbourne, “the news is good if you’re looking to become more emotionally intelligent”. However, there is much debate whether you have to hire agents with high emotional intelligence or train them to have high emotional intelligence.
Regardless of which approach is used, the more a call center agent is emotionally intelligent in each of the the EI or EQ areas, the more positive emotional connections with customers will occur.