Want Your Customer-Facing Employees to Get Engaged at Work? Hire People with a High EQ

by Colin Shaw on April 24, 2014

eq-300 Employee engagement is a critical factor in having a great customer experience. Since so much of employee engagement has to do with having the right people in the right position, today’s hiring managers and leaders would do well to hire people for positions that interact with customers that have a high emotional intelligence, or high EQ.

We know that people with a higher EQ are better at keeping both their emotions and the emotions of others in a situation managed more effectively. But these skills can do even more than that. In an article from ScienceDaily.com, researchers asserted that people with a higher EQ were able to “facilitate interpersonal behaviors for achieving their goals.”

For the article, researchers at Kyoto University had put together a social behavior experiment that measured how people with higher EQ were able to manage their fellow subjects in a game. The game was manipulated so that the other two participants would purposefully ostracize the third player. Later, the subject who was ostracized would drive the action that could either increase or diminish the rewards for all the players.

What they discovered is that subjects that were identified as having a high EQ would then attempt to manage the motivation of the ostracized subject to retaliate against the others for a better outcome for all the subjects. The study, published in October in the open-access journal, PLOS ONE, determined that while a high EQ wasn’t necessarily good or bad, it did enable a person to achieve their goals by managing the emotions of the others.

In other words, they have an ability to use their awareness to get the outcome they are seeking. Or in your case as the hiring manager, the outcome you are seeking.

Getting Engaged at Work

Employee engagement refers to those people that work for your organization that are emotionally bonded and rationally on board with your goals and processes. They fully support and uphold the brand promise that you have created for your company. These engaged employees are the ones that are most likely to create customer loyalty with your customers. It is as I always say, “Happy employees make happy customers.”

As a leader in your organization, your job is to identify the strengths in your team and your new candidates for positions and match them with appropriate jobs that create the emotional atmosphere with your customers that you desire. Employees that have a high EQ are more likely to excel in different areas than a person with a low EQ. This is an important consideration when you are hiring your team. Putting someone in a position for which they are not suited results in challenges for everyone from managers to customers to the employee him or herself.

On the other had, when this is done well, you can create a dream team.  I did a series of posts on the different potential members of your dream team based on personality and working characteristics and preferences. There were four different types of employees that I profiled: Givers, Matrix Thinkers, Savants, and Champs.  Most people have one profile that they are mostly and as a result are more suited to certain types of jobs naturally.

Building on this concept of being suited to some things, it makes sense to look at a person’s EQ when hiring for positions that will have direct contact with your customers. Who better to be in a job where they are dealing with your customers than a person who is emotionally intelligent? They are not officially listed as one of these dream team profiles, but if they were they would be, “the EQs.”

What does this have to do with your customer experience?

As emotional connections become even more important in today’s globalized and commoditized economy to creating customer loyalty and boosting the bottom line, the ability to manage emotions will be more valuable an asset in a person’s resume. Why? Because good customer experience relies on individuals with high EQs to manage the situation to a good emotional outcome for the customer.

Think back on a recent customer service interaction you had, particularly one where you were disappointed or frustrated (two emotions that destroy value to the customer experience). What was the outcome of that interaction? If it was unsatisfying, can you pinpoint where it went wrong? If it was great, what made it great?

Many times the answer to either of these questions was who you were talking to (or working with, emailing, messaging, texting, or however else you were interacting with them) did something that made you feel a certain way. And if they had a high EQ, then I can probably guess that they were able to manage your emotions effectively to a good outcome.

Looking for people with a high EQ is a great strategy when you are building your team. These individuals have the power to help manage a potentially damaging situation into a good outcome. Provided that your EQs are on board with your brand promise, they can help interactions with your customers become the best part of that customer’s day instead of material for the rant they post later on social media about that terrible experience they had with your organization.

Colin Shaw is founder & CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin has been recognized by LinkedIn as one of the top 150 Business Influencers in the world.  He is an international author of four best-selling books on Customer Experience. Colin’s company, Beyond Philosophy provide consulting, specialised research & training from our Global Headquarters in Tampa, Florida, USA.

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Colin ShawWant Your Customer-Facing Employees to Get Engaged at Work? Hire People with a High EQ

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