How to Create a Corporate Advantage Adopting Emotional Intelligence

Lisa Ecclesie

Products and services in today's market are increasingly interchangeable, so companies should ask themselves how they can create uniqueness in the market.

A key way to differentiate, especially in the customer management field, is the quality of interaction you and your company has with customers.

One blind side in this issue is emotional intelligence (EQ). When it comes to so-called soft topics, like emotional intelligence, results are always difficult to measure and the rules in economics are that everything must be measurable.

But the question is: Are we measuring the right thing? After all, tackling this soft skill creates a huge corporate advantage.

What does EQ mean?

Acting in an emotional intelligent way means to be able to recognise how people think and communicate. The difficult part is to interact with the people out of their perspective, adopting their way of communication in order to be understood and to create a win/win situation.

It doesn’t mean being an actor and unauthentic, on contrary. To act emotionally intelligent is about showing real empathy. Understanding how to speak to customers and employees – how to act with emotional intelligence – sets free huge potential and is extremely efficient for both sides.

Usually companies need a model in order to understand visualise the meaning of empathy and how to apply it. There are different models (methodologies) on the market that can help put EQ skills in a business context.

In organisational development, this type of change is called "making the connection", which means putting the issue in a business context and therefore speaking the language of the target group; the company culture.

How to implement EQ in 5 steps

1. Define with the stakeholder (usually management), the exact meaning of emotional intelligence and how to make the issue a strategic one, along the entire service profit chain.

2. Create a common understanding within the company in order to achieve a paradigm shift.

3. Support change, so that emotional intelligence becomes a natural part of daily work life.

4. Delegate responsibility; affected employees become active participants,

5. Embed emotional intelligence in further measures, for example in running business projects in the organisation. Rather than being a purely theoretical exercise, this generates genuine added value.

Success factors of EQ

Emotional intelligence must be embedded in the corporate mission:; the company must declare its intention to establish emotional intelligence as a fundamental differentiator. This turns emotional intelligence into a company-wide objective.

EQ requires people to be willing to change their behaviour. This means its implementation is challenging and depends on many internal and difficult-to-influence factors. For emotional intelligence to become ingrained and tangible to customers, individual changes in behaviour must be encouraged; this needs role models.

Like with every muscle, building emotional intelligence takes endurance to reap any benefits. Regular training is crucial, otherwise the muscle withers.

Implementing emotional intelligence creates potential if it is approached holistically and along the entire service profit chain. It's important that everyone, at every hierarchical step and in all participating areas, is involved.

EQ benefits

It is only by taking into account these success factors, that companies can benefit from the advantages that fostering emotional intelligence brings.

The most important advantages are:

  • Customer loyalty: Customers who are truly loyal to us forgive us the odd mistake. They are concerned about more than price and are happy to recommend us.
  • Employee satisfaction: Employees who are happy to work for us contribute a personal touch and work more efficiently.
  • Employer image: An employer image and culture envied by the competition elevates us to a pole position in the race for talent
  • Workforce: A workforce that makes a real and positive difference.

How to measure the effectiveness of EQ

The most common way to measure the effectiveness of emotional intelligence is to measure it in the customer satisfaction survey, adding questions relating to customer relationship management. Today the effectiveness of such measures are better measurable than in the past. This does, however, mean that intangible issues must also be recognised and benefit from financial help.

To decide to tackle an issue like emotional intelligence in a business context is brave. But to be brave is the way to focus on the blind spot and to reveal it in order to be unique in the market – the benefits will be vast.

Implementing emotional intelligence requires personal change and practice, practice, practice. As Aristotle said: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."