Emotional Intelligence and Customer Service

WRITTEN October 25, 2023 Author: Rich Atkins

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognize, assess, and positively manage the emotions of yourself and others.

In Customer Service, having empathy for others is helpful, but emotions can be intense. That’s why it’s important to develop strong Emotional Intelligence skills. Empathy means feeling what the other person feels or understanding their feelings.

Emotional Intelligence is about understanding and balancing both their emotions and your own.

In all areas of Customer Service, self-awareness is vital. Your actions, word choice, and tone impact those you interact with. For example, a customer service provider may grow impatient with people who aren’t quick to understand. That person may lack the self-awareness to realize that s/he grows frustrated when having to repeat.

Emotional Intelligence includes:

  • Self-Awareness – knowing your own feelings.
  • Managing Emotions – despite fear or anger.
  • Empathy – knowing others’ feelings without them telling you.
  • Social Skills – handling your emotions in relationships with others.

When a customer behaves stubbornly or rudely, remember that there are reasons behind their behavior. Especially during challenging times, when we are all grappling with our own fears and facing difficult situations, it’s impossible to know the specific stressors impacting the person you are interacting with.

A conversation can go many ways, but it is up to you to control your response, and remember that in the end, every customer just wants to be heard and understood. Control your reaction to their emotions–by focusing on your thoughts. Stay calm, breathe deeply and slowly. Listening, not reacting, is your primary job.

In all situations, there is a way to make it right.

The all-important, and often-overlooked emotional components of customer service is to acknowledge the inconvenience suffered by the victim.

  • “Oh no! That must have been upsetting for you.”
  • “I’m so sorry that happened to you.”
  • “We can do better than that for you.”

When you recognize the emotional harm from the inconvenience, you’re saying to the customer, “I get you, emotionally. Your feelings are valid to me.” Statements like these don’t necessarily admit that the business has done anything wrong (but if it did, we should own up to that fact). They simply allow and validate other people’s feelings.

The two sides of Emotional Intelligence are separate but connected. It is virtually impossible to respond successfully to others if we do not have a strong hold on our own emotions. Learning to maintain the balance of emotions will ultimately help you to better serve your customer.

This information is from the Improving Customer Service curriculum. If you’re looking for ways to improve this or other communication skills, register for one of our upcoming public classes.

Check out our upcoming EI/CS Class >>

Other Resources:

How to use Emotional Intelligence to Provide Excellent Customer Service

How to put some Emotional Intelligence into your Customer Service scripts

Image Courtesy of Elisa Riva on PixaBay

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