Cindy is a solo female traveler who likes to make decisions without feeling a lot of pressure.
She has always been skeptical about accommodation, spending countless hours in reading reviews, comparing room amenities and contacting hotel staff.
But when she saw this Airbnb ad in a travel mag, she was moved with compassion.
Image via nytimes.com
Pulling on her heart strings this advert addressed her need to feel at home while traveling. Her emotional intelligence said, “There’s no place like home.”
Emotional intelligence (EQ or EI) is the ability to be intelligent about your emotions. It does not mean being emotional. According to Dr. Daniel Goleman, author of NYT best seller ‘Emotional Intelligence’, it comprises of five components:
- social skills
Cindy’s decision to book Airbnb was based on emotional intelligence as explained in the following diagram:
Why Does Emotional Intelligence Matter?
Daniel Goleman’s ‘The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights’ discusses brain biology behind the elements of EQ.
The book lists several characteristics in an individual that make up emotional intelligence, which is different from intelligence quotient (IQ). Among the characteristics are:
- interpersonal chemistry
- ethical radar
Back in 2013, US researchers mapped out a 3D structure depicting the presence of emotional intelligence inside the brain.
General and emotional intelligence were found to have a positive correlation.
Image via journal of Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience
Intelligence depends on cognitive abilities. Goleman cited research studies that talk about unique brain centers governing emotional intelligence, which distinguishes it from general intelligence (math, spatial, verbal) – known cognitive abilities. Emotional intelligence can be acquired and increased overtime, unlike personality traits or IQ.
Why does the brain accommodate growth of emotional intelligence, you wonder?
Because it creates new stem cells that form connections with other cells to make neural circuitry. This is a natural process called neurogenesis, and it adds power to the understanding of intelligence; the brain reshapes itself according to the emotional experiences according to research findings.
If you are acquiring emotional intelligence as a SaaS customer – say trying to get better at analytics – then the circuitry will increase accordingly. The findings indicate that the brain is built to adapt to in response to experiences (good or bad) more than any other organ.
Consider your own experiences for a moment: have you ever booked the same flight that gave you a bad flying experience, or have you ever taken a chance at something you experienced as unsafe, even though the facts marked it as safe?
This was the development of your emotional intelligence, the responses you had stemming from past experiences stored in your brain.
Many of us ignore this intelligence in favor of logic and rationality, which means we operate with only half of the capability to make valid decisions. True emotional intelligence is being able to obtain information from the emotional centers of the brain, and then balance that information with rational centers of the brain.
As Byron Stock says, you can use the information to make effective decisions about what not to do (or what to do). EI will help you make better choices in-the-moment.
Jean Greaves and Travis Bradberry’s publication ‘Emotional Intelligence 2.0’ offers steps to boost emotional intelligence through self-awareness, social awareness, self-management and relationship management.
These are the same fundamental elements of emotional intelligence Goleman initially introduced.
Without emotional intelligence, a customer can come off as selfish, arrogant and rigid.
These traits can halt or slow their decision making process.
Since trust is essential for eCommerce businesses, being perceived as unreliable can damage prospective relationships. If you believe you cannot approach a client because they appear rigid or volatile, the outlook of your product/service and your marketing efforts can be negatively affected.
Emotional intelligence: Mapping the Terrain for Ecommerce
Research reveals that the future of business is based on an emotional connection with the client. Clients who like the companies they do business with are more likely to continue to buy.
In user experience, mobile access, customer service interaction, and product features, customers will subconsciously or consciously rely on emotional intelligence to decide if it’s positive for them. This is why enterprises, regardless of their state of business, should put themselves on pause, understand what their clients are feeling, and then act.
Through a study, Forrester discovered that emotion has a bigger impact on client loyalty than any other factor. As a result, the author of the study expects enterprises to jump in with both feet on the ‘emotional bandwagon’ to deliver a positive customer experience.
The research suggests that businesses are already investing in emotional intelligence, with companies like Deloitte purchasing user experience and design agencies such as Doblin.
Michael Gazala, VP research director at Forrester, states:
“Customer experience is of often thought of as being driven by right-brain practices – making things more effective and making processes more efficient. But there’s a whole left-brain element of customer experience that we think is going to be a greater focus as companies try to understand how to deliver emotionally compelling experiences.”
The statement tells us that emotions are the breadcrumbs enterprises can use to find what is truly important to the customer.
That said, emotional intelligence needs to be fostered in your enterprise, not just for the customer relationship team, but from the CEO to bottom down.
Studies have shown that employees who have undergone EI training have higher sales, deliver strong customer service and create a better customer experience than those who have not. The former are able to put the customer needs ahead of their own agendas. Such a culture can be achieved by training employees in emotional intelligence competencies.
Emotional Intelligence Case Studies
Cosmetics giant L’Oreal started factoring EI in its recruiting process for salespeople. Those hired for their higher emotional intelligence sold over $90,000 more than their peers did, resulting in a net revenue increase of $2,558,360.
They also had 63 percent less turnover than their typically selected counterparts. So the emotional skills of your personnel will have a profound effect on the relationship between your customers and your organization.
Genos reported that the fourth largest pharmaceutical company in the globe, Sanofi-Aventis, wanted to study whether the emotional intelligence of their sales personnel could be improved and whether the increase would have a direct impact on sales revenue.
Genos designed an emotional intelligence development program for sales representatives and managers at the company. It taught one group how to utilize emotional intelligence skills in their profession, while another group was assessed in terms of sales performance and emotional intelligence only.
Image via genos.com
The result? EI of sales managers in the development program group increased by 18 percent.
As the graph above indicates, the increase in emotional intelligence was followed by a 13 percent improvement in sales performance on average. A 7.1 percent increase was witnessed in the first month, a 15.4 percent improvement in the month after and a 13.4 percent increase in the following month.
The feedback revealed the program helped participants form a better relationship with customers as well as each other.\
McKinsey’s research in Italy, Germany and Belgium identified key moments for customers and which banks responded appropriately to them.
The moments occur when customers face a problem (such as a loan denial or a hold on telegraphic transfer) or receive good or bad financial advice.
Image via mckinsey.com
The emotional intelligence of frontline employees in these organizations had a clear impact on customer experience.
They delivered a positive customer experience, which led to 85 percent of customers investing more of their assets or purchasing more products.
Why Does Emotional Intelligence Impact Customer Experience?
Look again at some of the studies above. While these results may seem bizarre and irrelevant to your business, the truth is, they’re not.
Each result is rooted to the concept of emotional intelligence. The enterprises simply took something primal to the customer psyche and trained their staff to fit what their clients wanted.
Why do customers develop a positive perception of emotionally intelligent organizations?
Below are some specific reasons:
Customers Acknowledge When Corporations Respect Their Intelligence
Across the board, clients expect you to deliver the best experience possible. Before they buy they are already thinking:
- How will you treat me?
- What if I don’t like your product?
- What if your service doesn’t deliver the results I’m after?
They have ‘emotional expectations’ before emotional intelligence steps in.
An emotionally intelligent organization listens carefully (shows empathy, embraces change, etc.) and comes up with a solution to create a positive experience.
Customers then use their personal (self-management and self-awareness) and social (relationship management and social skills) competence to make emotionally intelligent decisions, which results in customer loyalty.
Groove and its customers serve as an example. The company’s founder Alex Turnbull wrote a post on how the company pissed off its customers on various occasions, but managed to create a positive experience through emotional intelligence.
For instance, when it killed its live chat software product (one of its two core products), some clients weren’t happy.
Alex points out that they were saved by the honesty and transparency of their decision, rather than selling the ‘enhancement’ of the existing product to the clients, as most companies do.
Image via groovehq.com
Customers appreciate when their intelligence is respected and you want to come up with something better for them.
Customers Love Being Spoon Fed
EQ gives you the ability to carefully handle each client by understanding their emotional involvement with your company. You’ll be in control, since you’ll be managing your emotions as well as emotions of the customer while creating a customer experience.
When customers receive the kind of experience they want, when they want it, you’ll win loyalty and engagement, points out a MIT study. Spoon feeding customers will enhance their emotional intelligence; scratch their back and they’ll scratch yours.
CEO of The Party Goddess! Marley Majcher shared a negative customer experience with a service provider who wasn’t emotionally intelligent. She states that by giving clients what they think they need is best is achieved via emotional intelligence.
Zappos invests in emotional intelligence, and that’s why customers love their service. When a Midwestern college student called Zappos to buy a pair of Ugg boots, the company’s customer service agent started chatting about the city where the student was considering a move.
Image via slideshare.net
The call lasted 10 hours, with the rep staying on the phone for as long as needed to deliver a positive customer experience.
The author of ‘The Complete Leader Audiobook’ Brian Braudis states that if you can’t create an upsell make the call basically productive and congenial. When this kind of experience is blanketed over the entire organization, the emotional intelligence of customers takes notice.
Customers Trust Emotionally Intelligent Organizations
Emotionally intelligent enterprises make customers the priority without hesitation. Gaining their confidence builds relationships and building relationships gains their trust, which is important in the eCommerce arena as pointed out in studies.
When EI is widespread in your company, you can build trust by withstanding pressure, staying composed, taking personal responsibility for delays, and regulating reactions to complaints. Customers then rely on their own intelligence to keep doing business with companies who showed reciprocity and watched out for their needs on a proactive basis.
Joshua Paul, marketing and strategy executive at Socious, shared how Hubspot gained their trust. When they started using Hubspot’s calendar function, it didn’t allow them to change the date on an item already added to their calendar. For them this was an oversight, so they reached out to Hubspot with their feedback. Hubspot told them they would fix it and Socious believed them.
It was trust that made the difference; Socious trusted them to get it right and were willing to wait until a fix was made. Paul states that when customers trust a company, they’re willing to give it a grace even when a solution performs below par. Emotional intelligence is the reason.
Gartner pointed out that customer experience will be the battleground for businesses over the next two years.
This means that now is the time to focus on improving your customer experience across all devices and channels. Using emotional intelligence to find out why customers react in a certain way and how to cater to their emotional expectations will be the way forward.