Having good Emotional intelligence (EQ) is becoming a more sort after in the business world, especially in the retail sector where employees have interactions with their customers on a very frequent basis. EQ has no correlation to IQ and is not a measure of intelligence but it can have massive effects on people’s working lives. It has been found to have a direct correlation with how much money people get paid, 90 percent of high performers in the work place score high in EQ tests whereas 20 percent of low performers are high in EQ (Emotional Intelligence 2.0 pages 17-22). So what is EQ? EQ is your ability to recognise and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behaviour and relationships. This is vitally important in the business world because you will be speaking to people whether they are customers or colleagues on a daily basis, if you can learn to control your emotions and read others it will give you a much higher chance of receiving positive results from every interaction.
EQ can be broken down into 4 emotional skills each one benefiting you in different ways, some more than others. These are self awareness, self management, social awareness and relationship management. These 4 skills can be paired together, self awareness & management are more about yourself and what you do whereas social awareness and relationship management are about how you are with other people. (Emotional Intelligence 2.0)
Having a high emotional intelligence in service jobs is an invaluable skill to have, being able to read other peoples emotions and react accordingly is very important in every job but especially in the service environment because you’ll be able to read how people are taking the information you are giving them and therefore change your behaviour to best suit the emotions the customer is feeling, for example if you are working in sales and are trying to sell a certain item to a customer, having a high EQ allows you to read the emotions of the customer, if you believe the customer is liking the product then you can continue pushing the sale without the customer getting agitated whereas if the customer doesn’t look to be particularly interested you can perhaps recommend them a different product without the customer even needing to tell you they aren’t interested. This shows that you are paying attention to the customer and that you understand them, this in turn means they trust you more because you seem to understand there point.
EQ isn’t all about other people as previously discussed, it also plays an important role in controlling your emotions which again in the service environment is a critical skill especially in management roles as you’ll have to deal with tricky customers on a daily basis. Lashing out at a customer is not something you want to be doing so being able to recognise what gets a reaction out of you is vital. If you know what will trigger a certain emotion you will have a much greater chance of controlling that emotion because you can almost foresee that emotion coming. This means your more likely to remain calm and therefore more likely to choose the right choice because your decision making will be less effected by your emotions and more by logical thinking.
When someone has a low EQ it can affect the people around them negatively. I’ve been in situations where I have been purchasing a product, for example I was purchasing a computer. Now the its the salespersons job to sell other things with that computer like software such as antivirus or Microsoft office. When the salesperson your dealing with has a low EQ they fail to recognise your emotions and often don’t take no as an answer and continue to push the sale of these products you don’t want. This leads to customers such as myself getting angry because I only came in to buy one thing but I’m being harassed to buy these extra things with it. On the flip side I have been in similar situations where the salesperson has showed high levels of EQ and its a much smoother experience for both the customer and the salesperson. They tell me about the extra products for sale but they see that I’m getting a bit annoyed and realise that no matter how much they push the sale, they aren’t you going to get anywhere. In turn they stop pushing the sale of these extra products because they recognise my negative emotions towards the products and react accordingly.
Customer complaints are a crucial part of the service environment because your often face to face with the customer rather than over the phone, being able to recognise the customers emotions as well as yours is vital in keeping the customers calm and making sure the right outcome is achieved for both parties. When speaking to someone who I believe has a low EQ a lot of their responses are emotionally driven, so quick responses to my questions. The person dealing with me doesn’t seem to think their responses through because they cant seem to control whats coming out of their mouth because their decisions are emotionally driven. They fail to recognise their own emotions as well as mine and this often leads to a negative outcome for both involved. Someone demonstrating high levels of EQ is much easier to deal with. They keep their calm and take time to think through their responses, this leads to a more logical response rather than an emotionally driven one. The colleague has taken into account my emotions and this made me feel more confident in them as they seem to understand my needs. This can lead to a better sale for them as if the customer doesn’t feel confident in the salesperson they are less likely to buy from them and or take their recommendations.
A key component of emotional intelligence is relationship management, forming a good relationship with a customer means they are more likely to buy, recommend and use the company again and these are all vitally important especially the customers recommendation as social media allows for the spread of information to be quicker and reach a lot more people. Ten years ago an unhappy customer might have told a few family members and friends about a poor experience but now someone can put their bad experience on social media or a review sight and reach thousands of people who can re share this information. This is why building a good relationship and making sure the customer feels valued is vital. Going back to a point I previously made about customer complaints. If you have built a good relationship with the customer and they come back with an issue it’ll be much easier to sort the issue as the customer knows and trusts the brand because of previously positive encounters.
The interviews that were carried out gave a valuable insight into what other people think about emotional intelligence and how they believe it effects them and their work. One person that was interviewed was the director of a small advertising company, he has to liaise with clients on a daily basis so his views on how emotional intelligence effects him and his clients is a great point of view to have. The interview further backed up the importance of relationship management because having a good relationship with clients is key to getting work done effectively and gaining repeat sales. Having a positive relationship with people makes it easier to get your point across because you feel more confident speaking to them. Things that was also emphasised was self awareness and social awareness, he believes you must keep on top of your emotions at all time as negative emotions can quickly be passed onto other people. This can only be a bad thing when talking with clients so keeping on top of these negative emotions is vital in his place of work. Staying on top of them and thinking logically is an invaluable skill to have when dealing with clients and customers. Finally social awareness was highlighted because its all well and good being able to recognise your own emotions but he believes you must also be able to recognise other peoples emotions because if what your saying is angering a client and you fail to recognise it you will only continue to anger them without you even knowing, by the time you realise it could be too late and the relationship could already be damaged beyond repair. If however you can recognise this emotion then you can react before any bad damage is done.
The final person interviewed (Kate) is a personal trainer, her job revolves around spending time with clients and building positive relationship with these clients, the insight gained was similar to the previous interview in the fact that relationship management is a very important factor. The focus of the interview was then shifted onto personal experiences that have been had when purchasing a product. When someone is demonstrating a low emotional intelligence Kate found it easier to walk away from the situation instead of arguing with the person as its like fighting a loosing battle as the person fails to recognise that what they are doing is having a negative impact on the customer and therefore find it hard to stop the pitch or advice. Kate then went onto explain that when someone demonstrates having some EQ skills, shed rather explain to them that she doesn’t want what is being offered and at that point they usually get the point and stop, therefore the sale still goes through. So only people who have very low EQ skills can directly lead to a sale falling through. High levels of emotional intelligence can make a very good sale in Kate’s eyes as they can quickly recognise emotions and are very good at turning a sale their way because they aren’t managed by their emotions and can react effectively to the emotions of the customer.
To conclude, from the interviews carried out emotional intelligence has a big role in whether a sale is successful or not and how relationships are formed and maintained which is a big factor for whether your selling a product or meeting clients to discuss business ventures. Failing to control your own emotions can prove highly damaging in the service environment as is failing to recognise others. Your emotions are often pushed onto others and pushing negative emotions onto customers is not something that anyone should be doing as it leaves negative emotions in the customers head therefore meaning they are less likely to purchase from you again.
Bradberry, T. and Greaves, J. (2009). Emotional intelligence 2.0. San Diego, California TalentSmart. Pages 17-22
Bradberry, T. and Greaves, J. (2009). Emotional intelligence 2.0. San Diego, California TalentSmart. Pages 24