FuturePeople | Coaching for Emotional Intelligence (EI) to drive Customer Advocacy
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Coaching for Emotional Intelligence (EI) to drive Customer Advocacy

20 Jul Coaching for Emotional Intelligence (EI) to drive Customer Advocacy

 

There is abundant evidence demonstrating the link between the emotional intelligence (EI) skills of front line customer facing staff and customer engagement. EI is such a strong predictor of metrics like Net Promoter Scores (NPS) customer loyalty, and increased sales, that even a 10% increase in these skills translates to direct net increases in top-line revenues. So, the question on everyone’s lips is: how do you effect a sustained improvement in EI skills (or, Emotional Quotient (EQ) – the measure of Emotional Intelligence)?

Well the good news is that EQ is distinct from IQ in that it is a set of competencies which can be measured and developed over time, with increases in EQ and EI related competencies correlated with improved on the job performance. In contact centres where NPS is measured at an individual agent level, the opportunity to correlate NPS with EQ to inform targeted recruitment and training for the specific EI competencies that drive performance in your centres is incredibly powerful.

However, all too often, faced with budget pressures and limited time, we’re tempted to place our hopes in one off training events to change the world. Whilst training is effective, it is not really conducive to long-term behaviour change, unless there are follow-on activities to imbed learning. Real EQ transformation occurs when staff are empowered in relation to their own development by being educated on the role of EQ and how to apply in in the workplace (and in their personal lives) and most importantly where their immediate managers are trained in to help them develop and apply EI skills at work. And that’s what a coach does…

Let’s take a closer look at that. One definition of coaching is ‘a solution-focused, collaborative relationship, to help maximise the person’s potential through self-directed learning and sustained behavioural change’. The coach supports their employee in realising their potential, removing obstacles, creating a safe space to explore and experiment, and raising self-awareness through feedback. But it is a self-directed growth: the coach is more a ‘guide on the side’ rather than a ‘sage on the stage’. Succeeding in the behaviour change necessary to develop takes education, self awareness, personal accountability, insightful manager feedback and persistence.

And ultimately, a coach does a lot more… a coach instills their own coaching capabilities in their employee (giving them the tools to be accountable for their own development). Skills such as empathy, active listening, being mindful of their own and others’ emotional states, exercising emotional self-management (not being hijacked by emotions); all important skills which are the very basis of a high EQ.

Coaching is about change. It is goal-focused and focused on the positive. Emotions are a fundamental driver of behaviour and ultimately change: that is to say, the awareness of emotions, of the way they affect thinking and judgement, and how we regulate them. For example, building greater self-awareness and awareness of one’s environment is a typical starting point in any coaching intervention. Awareness of one’s own and others’ emotions is one of the 67main competencies of the Genos Emotional Intelligence Inventory (the capacity to identify and understand the impact one’s own feelings is having on thoughts, decisions, behaviour and performance at work).

But what is the organisational importance of a having a high EQ and of developing these coaching skills? The answer is nothing less than the difference between effective and toxic leadership! Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee (2001) have shown that what most influences a company’s bottom-line performance is a leader’s own mood. ‘Emotional intelligence travels through an organization like electricity over telephone wires. Depressed, ruthless bosses create toxic organizations filled with negative underachievers. But if you’re an upbeat, inspirational leader, you cultivate positive employees who embrace and surmount even the toughest challenges.’

In the contact centre environment, the ‘boss’ is the immediate manager – the Team Leader. The Team Leader is possibly the most important person in a contact centre as the key to driving the employee engagement levels that are essential to customer engagement. This means that if we are to drive the development of EI on the front line we need to invest in the development of the EI of our Team Leaders and invest in their coaching skills in relation to EI. Our eQ+ FutureLeaders development program is designed to help Team Leaders develop their own EI and that of their team.

 

Contact Ruth Hamilton on (02) 9024 2920 or email rhamilton@futurepeople.com.au