Linking Emotional Competence with Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is often a key focus area for a company, but few recognise the fact that there should be a certain level of emotional competence cultivated in support of this.
‘Emotional competence’ is a big phrase. While this certainly has a much larger remit than just customer service, I shall try to confine my discussion to what matters for a company in its efforts to provide a customer with good service.

‘Competence’ is defined as “possessing suitable knowledge, ability, or skill to do something successfully”. In the context of customer service, emotional competence enables us to be aware of what a customer’s needs are, gives us the ability to plan for a good customer relationship, and helps us formulate the right reaction to a customer’s concerns.

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In being aware of a customer’s needs, emotional competence critically assists us in considering the service we are providing, and seeing this in the context of a customer’s requirements. We are better able to see ourselves in a different light and identify areas where we are possibly lacking. By utilising emotional competence we can tackle potential problems before they even come up.

Making Emotional Competence Work

How do we plan for a good customer relationship by incorporating emotional competence into our approach?

First we need to be able to emphathise with the customer. Active listening and proactive listening will be required – the former to identify all customer concerns as the customer articulates them, and the latter to take it one step further by constantly adjusting our frame of mind as the conversation with the customer develops.

Developing this emotional competence allows us to better craft a response that exceeds the customer’s expectations. Emotional competence is built up over time and individual expertise will arise from dealing first-hand with customers.

Formulating the right reaction to the customer is arguably the hardest part of the relationship management process. With emotional competence we will be able to broaden our skills in conflict management, influencing and collaboration skills.

When a customer comes up with a request or feeds a complaint back to us we will need to react quickly and in the right way. In order to do this expediently we need to have considered the possible actions to take and their ramifications. Emotional competence will build upon this and help us in our analysis process.

The communication process with the customer is equally important, because a lot of hidden cues may be built into a conversation (be it verbal or face-to-face) and someone with a good level of emotional competence will be able to identify what other issues may just be brimming under the surface. Our response can then be better crafted to ensure the customer receives a full answer and is satisfied our actions taken will be more than adequate.

The journey to emotional competence is long and winding, but the sooner we start on it the faster we will reap the benefits. What may not be obvious now as a soft skills development will become much more apparent later on (if it is not too late by then). Don’t wait until real customers enter the picture – by then it may have become too costly to get emotional competence right!

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