Going Beyond Customer Service to Customer Engagement

Customer Service, the term has been used in tandem with any agency, organization or business offering something to the public whether it is the tangible, such as an item, or the intangible, such as a service. Yet, let’s take a moment to consider what the phrase really means? How do we define good customer service opposed to its counter-part, bad customer service? My guess is that anyone who has ever been a “consumer” which means most of us, could provide a working definition of both rather quickly if asked to do so!In today’s fast paced market where the information highway is readily available for any consumer in search of a product or service, customers have more choices than ever before. For businesses this can be either beneficial or detrimental depending on the innovation and creativity of your current business culture.

As Daniel Goldman, the guru on Social and Emotional Intelligence writes, “How customers feel when they interact with an employee determines how they feel about the company itself.” So, when you stop and think about it, something very powerful occurs in the interaction or “space” between employee and customer. This “something” is so powerful it can easily impact your business for years to come, even more so than the time and money you have spent on advertising.Yes, in the hands of your employee rests the opportunity for how your customer will define your business. What is the take away for the customer? What will they tell their friends, colleagues and even the people they meet in the line at the grocery store about your business? The mental, physical and emotional imprint left by the interaction (no matter how long or short) between your employee and your customer has the potential to determine the future of your business.This is potent information for business owners and organizations large and small. Why… ? Because the most successful customer service representatives are “emotionally intelligent enough” to assess each customer’s individual needs, according to Goldman. They often times, single-handedly, determine whether the customer decides to return to your business, becoming an “engaged” customer or not. The trick is, they may not be aware they possess this kind of power and potential for the growth of your business. They may have to acquire skills to leverage this potential or enhance the skills they already have in a way that is more applicable to your unique business culture.

Creating the engaged customer is critical to the longevity of your business. Businesses can create a fertile customer base by utilizing Social and Emotional Intelligence in the workplace.By increasing in the employee’s self-awareness and self-management skills, SEI works synergistically to help individuals master emotions in a way that moves customer service into the domain of customer engagement, strengthening the thread of loyalty businesses need to sustain long-term growth and profitability.On the social side, employees are better able to navigate business relationships, creating for themselves a fertile environment for personal and professional growth. Out of this process, a strong social network is built both internally and externally for the company.Make SEI part of your business practice!

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