Why Companies Need Emotional Intelligence To Provide A Better Customer Experience


Sarah Ramirez | August 19, 2019

Many brands underestimate the importance of emotional intelligence despite the positive impact it can have on a company’s bottom line, according to a new report from Harvard Business Review.

The “EI Advantage” report, which was sponsored by hospitality brand Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, shows that emotionally intelligent organisations have significantly strong customer experiences. As consumers are becoming more perceptive, it is crucial for luxury brands to publicly embrace emotional intelligence (EI) and social purpose.

“While EI has been a popular topic since the ’90s, we were surprised to discover how few companies value and prioritize EI within their company,” said Christian Clerc, president of worldwide hotel operations at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. “In addition to overlooking the ‘EI Advantage,’ the study also identifies a clear disconnect between what executives say about EI and how it is practiced within the organisation – senior leaders aren’t walking the walk. 

“With changing demographic expectations and new thresholds for transparency, we believe that the evolution of the modern workplace requires a renewed, unabashed focus on the power of emotional intelligence,” he said. “We're excited about elevating the discourse around this important topic as we look to further incorporate the study’s findings into our company culture and business.”

The report was based on a survey of nearly 600 respondents across sectors, primarily in North America and Europe.

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Emotional intelligence at work

Less than 20 percent of respondents agreed that their organisations have an ingrained sense of emotional intelligence. EI traits can include integrity, self-awareness, empathy and sense of humor.

Companies that emphasize EI were labelled “perceptive” organisations and reported higher levels of employee engagement and productivity. Furthermore, EI-oriented companies were the most adept at establishing goals outside of financial success.

Creating a sense of purpose is essential for companies to attract millennials, both as employees and consumers. Millennials account for at least half of the workforce at a quarter of the organisations surveyed.

According to the report, more engaged employees contribute to better products, services and experiences for clients.

Forty percent of respondents from perceptive companies reported their organisations were “much stronger” than competitors regarding customer loyalty, compared to 12 percent of “detached” organisations. Leading EI organisations also had stronger customer experience, 37 to 8 percent.

These findings echo an earlier study by Motista, which showed emotionally-connected customers remain loyal to brands for longer and spend up to two times more in a year. Coupled with a growth in annual spend, creating deeper relationships can lead to a greater lifetime value for retailers.

Motista tracked what portion of consumers have an emotional connection with retailers, and found that of the brands studied, Gucci, Burberry and Neiman Marcus have the highest level of emotional connection with consumers.

EI and tech

Using technology to communicate with customers can also hamper the development of emotional intelligence.

As brands increasingly rely on artificial intelligence technology to handle consumer interactions, customers are wary that these digital tools will instead make shopping less personal and more frustrating.

In a report from Adobe and Invoca, 80 percent of respondents believe face-to-face interactions with a brand representative result in the most empathetic service experiences.

Whether consumers have the vocabulary for it or not, a brand’s emotional quotient, otherwise known as emotional intelligence, is actually crucial to them when making a stressful decision. A quarter of all respondents said emotional awareness is the most important attribute a sales representative can have in a complicated purchase scenario, and the majority said this quality can be demonstrated in-person or over the phone.

Four Seasons has digitised the art of conversation with the introduction of an instant message chat service, which launched in October of 2017.

Available in more than 100 languages, Four Seasons Chat enables guests to send and receive messages from property teams for before, throughout and after their stay at a Four Seasons hotel.

Four Seasons Chat is not a chatbot. It is operated by humans and has a 90-second average response time for ideal customer service.

“Four Seasons applies EI throughout the employee experience, from candidate selection and onboarding to performance check-ins and leadership development programming,” Four Seasons’ Mr. Clerc said.

“In property meetings and through global communications, Four Seasons celebrates employees who rely on their EI to improvise in the moment and deliver unscripted, genuine care to guests.”

This article was originally published on Luxury Daily. It has been adapted for clarity and style and is republished with permission. 

Hospitality | Reports