Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a hot topic in the customer service space for years, and the adoption of it is only going to accelerate. Forward-thinking brands leverage AI as a means to strengthen the human connection they have with their customers. While AI takes care of the transactional elements, customer care teams have the ability to focus on the human and emotional components of the interaction. It’s the perfect combination.
What a customer care team has to offer, and what they can do better than any smart machine, is relate to people. When a Customer Service Representative (CSR) has a strong grasp on emotional intelligence (EQ), they’re able to understand customer issues, empathize with emotions and respond in the best and most human way possible. That’s why it’s important to intertwine EQ into every customer interaction.
EQ from Top-Down
EQ training using simulations and role playing during orientation ensures customer care teams are grasping the concept of emotional intelligence before their first interaction with a customer. Sharing best practices during coaching sessions also encourages continuous EQ learning.
An article from Inc.com highlights the importance around leaders being EQ examples to their teams. This means being aware of how decisions will affect those around them. It’s as easy as getting feedback from team members during department huddles or sending out anonymous surveys before making a big decision and communicating the “why” behind things that directly affect the greater group.
Watch Your Tone
The most challenging part of dealing with customer emotions is the fact that emotions are intangible and complex, according to Process Street. One way to tackle this is to classify emotions into positive and negative categories.
If a customer seems happy or chatty, a friendly and conversational tone makes most sense. CSRs need to be empowered to show their unique personality and give room for customers to share theirs. Positive interactions like this can have a major impacts on the customers experience.
It’s easy to identify if someone is feeling negative emotions. In most cases, customers will be transparent about being angry, disappointed or frustrated. CSRs should stay calm, open-minded and patient. Empathy is key - the customer should always feel heard and that their frustrations are understood.
Empathy Over Everything
It’s never a good idea to analyze, justify or react to a customer’s frustrations. Empathy is almost always the biggest thing a customer needs. A CSR saying “I understand” and genuinely meaning it, can often diffuse the most high-tension situations.
Empathy ultimately means seeing situations through the eyes of others rather than your own. Instead of getting frustrated with an upset customer, CSRs should put themselves in the customer’s shoes to understand the core reason why they’re upset. Rather than assuming the worst about a customer who continually reaches out, it’s helpful to try to understand why they keep having issues. Maybe there is something that can be improved on the website, FAQ page, notification emails or IVR routing? Is there an issue with a specific product? Is there something in their customer journey that’s causing the frustration? The more often situational empathy is practiced, the more it becomes a default approach to any customer situation and can uncover constructive insights.
Brand loyalty can be strengthened with every interaction. Companies need to invest in training their customer care team on the EQ skills that AI has trouble replicating - such as understanding and human connection. Taking advantage of AI capabilities and knowing how to handle customer emotions at the same time plays a key part in improving the customer experience and building brand advocates, contributing to more revenue and improved ROI.