Using Emotional Intelligence to Improve Contact Centre CX

Emotional intelligence, often referred to as EI or EQ, is the ability to discriminate between different emotions in oneself and others and use emotional information to influence behaviour. It is an essential skill for relating to other people and an invaluable tool in the realm of customer service. When it comes to our day to day lives, emotional intelligence comes into play in most of our interactions, but when we are not face to face, it can be difficult to understand the emotional reactions or responses of others. In the contact centre environment, employers need to cultivate emotionally intelligent skills in their agents. Emotional intelligence will allow your agents to better relate to your customers on a personal level. It’s about practising empathy to gain trust and better satisfy customers. You likely train your agents on the hard skills, but you should also help them to develop their emotional intelligence so they can deliver winning customer experiences. Below, we outline skills to become an emotionally intelligent contact centre agent. 

Building Rapport

Some customers need a little more hand-holding than others, so building a rapport with them to put them at ease and make them feel comfortable. Starting a conversation with a simple “How are you?” is a quick and easy way to endear a customer to you and responding in kind helps the agent to seem like a real person and not like a computer engineered robot. Most of the time a customer will say “Fine, thanks” and move on, but it doesn’t hurt to inject a bit of friendliness into the conversation to build a relationship. 

Becoming a Better Listener

A really good listener does not only listen to the words being spoken but also the bigger picture. An emotionally intelligent person will pick up on the tone, volume, speed, and other factors that contribute to how someone speaks. Paying attention to these verbal cues will ultimately help an agent to anticipate customer needs to shorten the time to call resolution. It is also important to give cues that you are in fact listening, particularly when you are not directly in front of someone to indicate this through body language and eye contact. By saying things like “I understand” and never interrupting, a customer will feel heard and valued. 

Improving Self Awareness

Train your agents to ask themselves “How do I sound to the customer?” While they don’t need to be overly peppy and friendly, agents need to speak to customers in a way that is welcoming, polite and calm. If an agent seems frustrated, bored, or annoyed – the customer will sense that and leave with an unsatisfactory experience. Emotional intelligence will serve and agent well in setting the tone of a conversation. Even when a customer is angry or rude, agents must remain respectful and diplomatic to hopefully diffuse an unhappy customer’s attitude and reach a resolution. 

Being Adaptable

A lot of unexpected questions or concerns can arrive in a contact centre environment, so being adaptable is a really important skill. Sometimes agents are encouraged to stick to a script when dealing with customers, but that’s not always helpful. Trusting agents to be proactive and take control of customer interactions using their emotional intelligence is a strong move to offer the best customer experiences. When agents are empowered to take ownership of interactions and tailor their language and response to different attitudes and requests, they will become more confident and better at getting to the bottom of what customers need in different situations.