In 1995, psychologist Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., rocketed to stardom with the publication of his book, Emotional Intelligence. Now, seventeen years later, EI has become ubiquitous in just about every field and industry, from education to nonprofit management to business. It’s also become a critical part of Working Solutions’ call center training and operations.
Emotional Intelligence: A Definition
While entire college courses have been developed defining and refining EI, in short, it refers to the “ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups.” IQs have historically been used to determine intelligence based on a series of tests that focus on mathematics, memory, abstract reasoning, and other elaborate mental processes. EI, however, focuses on four capabilities:
Each of these capabilities has specific competencies, but at its core EI measures one’s ability to motivate oneself and others. Given the complex nature of the modern call center, an agent’s EI is crucial to ensuring success, not only hers but also that of her team. With this in mind, we’ve developed recruiters and team leaders at Working Solutions who not only look at a potential agent’s qualifications but also her EI.
Why is EI so important to a call center agent’s success?
Home-based call center agents, such as those who work at Working Solutions, must possess a high EI primarily because of the independent nature of the work-at-home environment. As I point out in a recent video that we produced, an agent’s success depends on her self-discipline and self-motivation, both of which require self-awareness. She works from home, with no supervisor hovering over her shoulder managing her time or telling her what to do, and yet is surrounded by the many temptations that have befallen many a home-based worker, including the TV, computer games, personal phone calls, errands, children, pets, unexpected visitors, the laundry – the potential interruptions are endless.
Home agents are expected to maintain a professional demeanor and a quiet, organized workstation when they’re “on the clock,” and yet how does a supervisor ensure this when the agent is a thousand miles away or even in the next town?
That’s when the agent must rely on her EI to accomplish her tasks, perform her job to the company’s high standards, and maintain a satisfying work/life balance. She must not only be highly organized and self-motivated but also possess a strong desire to achieve in order to fulfill her personal goals as well as those of her team.
EI and Call Center Transactions
In addition to the EI required to maintain a harmonious work-at-home environment, an agent’s EI must also contribute to the successful completion of each call in which she’s a part. Empathy, the ability to manage and defuse conflict, the desire to serve, and the ability to develop and nurture relationships, are all factors that contribute to one’s EI, but they also happen to be essential ingredients of world-class customer service .
Our recruiters have an arsenal of testing methods to seek out agent candidates who score high in these EI capabilities. Once an agent is part of the Working Solutions team, our Operations department has numerous training programs that focus partly on enhancing an agent’s natural EI so that they are primed for success with each and every customer contact.
Final Thoughts on EI and the Call Center
Call centers live and die by their ability to offer excellent customer service. Recruiting agents who score highly on Emotional Intelligence can mean the difference between a call center that simply processes transactions and routes phone calls, and one that actually solves customer problems and thus enhances a company’s reputation and brand value.
Want to know more? Check out our short video where I talk about “The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in the Virtual Contact Center.”