Posts tagged ‘emotion’

March 16, 2011

Is Staying Calm and Unemotional Exactly the Wrong Thing to do for Customer Service Employees?

Well yes, very probably, implies a new study.

This new paper by two Canadian psychologists reviews the academic literature on emotional intelligence and suggests that the ability to influence others as a result of one’s own displays of emotion is a distinct emotional ability with consequences in the workplace. 

Stephane Cote and Ivona Hideg argue that some people are better than others at showing appropriate emotions which influence the feelings, behaviour and attitudes of those around them.  http://opr.sagepub.com/content/1/1/53.full.pdf+html  

They propose that this ability to influence others through displays of emotions sits alongside other aspects of emotional intelligence that are currently better understood, such as the ability to perceive emotions or the ability to manage emotions.

Much is written about the contribution that emotional intelligence makes to the quality of customer service and academic studies show evidence of a link between various features of emotional intelligence and objectively measured job performance in customer service roles.  For example, research indicates that people who are more emotionally intelligent in terms of understanding and managing emotions, are rated higher in terms of customer service provision by senior managers (1).

However, there has been little attention focused on the role that expression of emotion plays in job performance and the authors contend that not only is it a genuine and measurable ability that is present to differing degrees in different people, but also that it is highly likely to have a direct effect, albeit moderated by other factors, on job performance.

So What Does this Mean for Customer Service Providers?

It means that customers like people who come across as positive about, and genuinely engaged in, the interaction and who seem to reflect appropriately the emotions they are experiencing.  And that because they like them, customers are likely to communicate more clearly, more warmly and more informatively, thereby making the customer service employee’s job easier. 

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February 12, 2011

Emotion at the Heart of the Customer Experience

The Emotional Decision Maker

The way we feel underlies almost all our decisions and actions, even ones that we think are rational and logical.  Social psychological research continues to reveal the emotional and seemingly irrational underpinnings of our choices, from the smallest purchase to the most major life change.  It is inevitable that the same emotional responses will lie at the heart of how we choose to interact with organisations.

The emotional basis for decision making allows us to understand why an organisation’s front-line service providers are key to influencing our decisions to become and remain customers of any organisation.  Our interaction with them creates an emotional response and sets a pattern for our interaction with the organisation.  It is the way that the people of an organisation make us feel that determines our most strongly held opinions about it.

Person to Person

Of course there are other factors in forming our opinions as customers – the organisation’s advertising and materials, what we hear about them in the media, our experience of their product and other people’s views to name a few.  But at its heart, every contact an individual has with an organisation, in whatever form, is a personal interaction.

No matter in what medium of communication ia, what we infer about the meaning behind the communication and the emotional response it creates in us, is largely the same as would occur in a conversation in person between two people.

As social animals we are continually interpreting and responding to the way that other people interact with us, even if that is only through some text on a website or a set of instructions.

We are able to detect nuances of tone and subtle inferences in any type of communication and our deepest emotional reaction shapes our behaviour without conscious awareness.  In fact, we can impute meaning to a complete lack of communication – for example, think what meanings we draw from an organisation’s repeated failure to answer the phone when we have a problem to discuss.

Although we are interacting with an organisation, to our social brain that only makes sense as a group of individuals: along with the product itself,  our interactions with the person we are speaking to is the foundation of almost all that we will come to feel about an organisation.

Above and Beyond Simple Emotional Response to Experience

Psychological research consistently finds that our emotions about someone or something create the conditions for their own existence, through cognitive processes called attentional and confirmation biases. 

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