How to grow emotional intelligence of your support team for better communication in live chats

Here’s something we can both agree on: 

The marketplace is hyper-competitive now. Brands struggle for every single customer, and this fight becomes more and more desperate today.

Customers are capricious, they want to get the best solutions for their problems, and they are ready to withdraw you in favor of your nearest competitor in a snap.

And it’s no wonder:

In the world where each industry is oversupplied with similar features, prices, and marketing tricks, customer service becomes that tiny yet powerful detail identifying the winner. Customer satisfaction (CSAT) is among the top metrics here, and what can contribute to it more than pitch-perfect communication with customers in live chats?

Freshchat is ready to help your support team master this art. Keeping up with trends, we suggest you take note of your agents’ emotional intelligence and help them develop it for better customer service.

In this article, you’ll learn how to do that.

But first things first:

What is emotional intelligence?

We bet you’ve already heard of the concept. In plain English, emotional intelligence (also known as EI) is “the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions — in oneself and others — and to use that information appropriately.”

And what’s interesting is that this concept is not new.

Specialists have been studying EI for years, but it was Daniel Goleman who had inspired a renewed interest in the topic. His book Emotional Intelligence saw the light in 1995 and revealed a direct ratio between EQ (emotional quotient) of an entrepreneur and his business results. As far as you understand, many a good man paid attention to the concept and started to examine it in search of instruments and strategies to become more emotionally intelligent and therefore successful.

Image by Cognitive Institute

Why your support team needs it for better work

According to present knowledge, emotional intelligence:

  • is possible to develop and improve with proper practice
  • influences our health (both physical and mental) and overall happiness
  • impacts our leadership potential and job performance

With that in mind, smart managers pay attention to employees’ soft skills and design training programs that would help to grow their EQ for better results at work.

There’s only one problem with this approach:

Given that emotional intelligence has four domains with 12 competencies and is linked to neurological pathways, it’s not that easy to develop.

Image by Harvard Business Review

It takes tons of time and efforts to change a person’s emotional self-control and long-standing habits of interaction. So before you decide on particular instruments and strategies for EQ growth of your customer service agents, test them for all 12 elements. By so doing, you’ll know where exactly they’ll need help.

How you can help them grow emotional intelligence

When it comes to working in live chats, your customer service agents will need skills like high engagement and the ability to adapt quickly to all changes. Help to develop them by growing the EI culture in your company.

  • Prepare them: Motivate by meeting their personal needs and encourage their participation in working processes.
  • Train them: Set clear goals and foster a positive relationship between them.
  • Support them: Encourage learning and create conditions so they could use new skills at work.
  • Evaluate them: Check if your endeavors bring results and evaluate the efficiency of your chosen tactics for growing their EI.

Anything else?

Work on your personal EI, educate, and grow social responsibility

It’s clear that you can’t teach anything you don’t know and have yourself. So, what about your personal emotional intelligence? Do you treat others with respect and professionalism? Do you work on your empathy?

A good manager has the skills to understand the needs and viewpoints of his team members. You can manage their emotions only if you’re empathetic yourself.

So what can you do grow your EI?

First and foremost, forget about a one-size-fits-all approach at work. Develop your communication skills, don’t judge but try to see conflict situations from an employee’s perspective, listen to what worries them, and reflect back to what they say.

Also, treat them the way you want to be treated. Be creative, learn the art of persuasion, but remember: your customer service team thinks from own knowledge and experience. Educate them, help them understand the role of EI in their job performance and personal life.

Encourage to test their EQ for them to see what competencies they lack so they would get an idea on tools and strategies to choose for broadening their emotional horizons:

  • Recommend books and motivational TED talks on emotional intelligence.
  • Let them read articles on the topic.
  • Work on their (and your own) social responsibility.

The last-mentioned is for the highest level of emotional experience because it’s about a contribution to others. In the case of customer service, it’s definitely worth considering. Donations to charity, participation in volunteer events, and other corresponding projects help to make us more socially responsible.

Organize top-notch workspace

Environment matters. It influences our physical health, mood, and motivation; it helps us feel cozy; it allows us to control emotions and boost productivity. With that in mind, organize the work environment for your staff so they could feel comfortable there.

Pay attention to these aspects:

  • the temperature level in the office
  • walls color, light, and ventilation
  • comfortable furniture to prevent problems with neck, back, and eyes
  • a personal environment for every team member

It’s where you can train your customer support staff on skills beyond empathy and effective communication. Soft skills matter, but your employees also need to be proficient at using the software and understanding the product/service inside out.

And unlike with emotional intelligence, which is hard to calculate with absolute numbers, it’s where you can measure the operational efficiency of your team.

Сommunication tips to share with your support team

The way they talk to customers impacts your brand reputation, loyalty, and trust. So it’s to your advantage to appeal to the EI of your team for growing their communication skills.

And speaking about live chats, communication here is about a proper tone and style allowing us to treat customers like humans.

Live chat is not about business talks or sales emails. It’s an easy-going channel, where we speak with positive language, use emotions, write short and clear messages, and guide a person we are talking to. It’s about ease and speed.

With that in mind, make sure your support team refers to the best practices of live chatting with customers:

They use a compatible tone of voice and positive language when talking to customers.

If you still don’t have it, consider creating a style guide for your customer service. This is a document where you’ll provide the list of dos and don’ts of your brand language and tone. Recommend them to avoid negative language with words like “you need to,” “can’t,” “you have to,” etc.

Thus, you might want to create a so-called support lexicon. This is a vocabulary of phrases reflecting your brand identity and values. Using them while chatting with customers, your team will connect with your brand mission for remarkable service.

But it doesn’t mean they can’t use other words. Let them develop a conversational tone rather than talking like robots.

They use customers’ names and adapt to customers’ communication styles.

Remember Dale Carnegie?

Image by Medium

In live chats, address customers by name. (You are welcome to automate this feature but make sure you get it right: after all, Katie is not Kate and Jonathan is not John.) It’s all about using the psychology of consumer behavior to your advantage.

Mirror their communication style. When you are dealing with angry customers, there’s no place for LOLs; if they are happy or excited about something, maintain the same mood in your messages.

They use listening indicators, emoticons, and simplify their language for foreign customers.

Recommend your support team to incorporate so-called listening signals into their chat behavior. Phrases like “Oh, I see,” “Understand…” or “Okay…” are indicators of empathy, and they confirm customers that you are on the same track with them. The same goes for emoticons: when used to the point, they are perfect replacements for voice language in live chats.

Also, emoticons may come in handy when chatting with a customer speaking in a foreign language. It’s about mastering the EI competencies such as adaptability and positive outlook. There’s nothing wrong if you don’t speak their language; just let them know you’ll use Google Translate or DeepL so they could understand the reason why your responses might take a bit longer.

Help them communicate faster yet more productive

If a customer decides to contact you via live chat, they expect a timely, clear, and concise response. So why not upgrade your support team and help them develop one more skill that is critical for customer service to have?

The name of the game is fast communication. And to succeed here, consider the following tips:

Build templates

If your support team often needs to write the same reply, create a kind of cheat sheet for them. It’s a list of short generic phrases and answers for the most common questions.

Provide them with a second monitor

It speeds up conversations in live chats: support team agents will switch quickly between CRM and live chat for timely reaction to all queries.

Ask them to be brief

Long replies take time to type and read, so motivate your customer support employees to use short, simple sentences and avoid professional jargon. Also, explain that once in a while typos are okay: constant rereads before hitting “Send” slow down your chat service. More than that, a slight typo shows customers that it’s a human, not a machine talking to them.

But note that typos aren’t the same as spelling and grammar mistakes. Consistent errors show customers that you don’t know the language or are just a man of little culture.

Encourage them to learn fast-typing

Live chats are all about typing. So why not help your support team become even more productive by improving their typing speed? Start with training on proper hand placement, then practice touch-typing, and finally make it a typing habit.

Let the game begin!

Emotional intelligence is a must-have for business success today. It’s about self-management, influence, and inspirational leadership that helps you develop effective training programs for your support team.

Yes, it takes commitment and time; but it’s what you need for better customer experience and loyalty. So, grow the emotional intelligence of your support team, be emotionally intelligent yourself to lead them to success, and choose the best live chat solution for your website to harness these new skills for productive interaction with customers.