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Is emotional intelligence the key to customer service training?

Sarah K. White | Aug. 17, 2016
A positive customer experience is key to a successful business, but if you aren’t training and coaching your employees on emotional intelligence, you may be losing sales and customers.

While studying at MIT, Josh Feast, founder and CEO of Cogito, worked with MIT Professor Alex "Sandy" Pentland, founder and director of Human Dynamics Research within the MIT Media Laboratory, to develop emotional intelligence software. The software was originally implemented within the healthcare industry and the military to help diagnose veterans with PTSD and the company eventually broke off from MIT and opened up shop in downtown Boston.

Now, Cogito is focused on expanding its reach in the business world -- starting with the millions of workers who spend their days on the phone. Cogito's software promises to improve customer relationships by delivering real-time emotional intelligence feedback for customer service professionals and sales representatives, to help them navigate any call smoothly.

Whether you're trying to close a sale, coach a customer through some troubleshooting or remedy a complaint from an unsatisfied customer, you want the overall experience to be positive. But there are limitations to communicating over the phone -- such as the inability to read someone's facial cues or to get a sense of their body language.

Cogito's software gets around that by listening in on the conversation, noting each person's tone - whether they're tense, or relaxed -- and delivers critiques to improve the call. For example, if a sales representative is repeatedly talking over a client, the software will pick upon that and alert them to the faux-pas.

Meanwhile, throughout the call, the software rates the call on a scale of one to 10 to let them know how they're performing. As the call goes on, the score may rise or fall depending on that employee's performance.

IT adoption and deployment

When integrating any new software into the corporate structure -- be it emotional intelligence software or otherwise -- it's important to consider the impact on IT and productivity. Feast states that Cogito's software shouldn't be a burden on IT in terms of deployment, scale or training.

The software is cloud based, so it's easy to retrieve recordings or analytics as needed -- and there's no need to store hours upon hours of phone calls on the employer's end. There are a number of tools built into the software to help companies pull statistics out to track changes, improvements and other trends within their call centers.

He says the training involved with emotional intelligence software is more about getting employees to see the value in the software and to help them understand it's being implemented to make it easier for them to figure out how to improve each phone call. But as with any company-wide software deployment, Feast says you're bound to get some pushback from people, but that the best way to approach it is to remain up front and transparent with workers.

 

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