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As originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of AutoJournal.

By: Stella Cooper, Learning and Development Specialist, LGM Financial Services

Why EQ is more important than IQ in your dealership.

In a highly competitive and fast moving industry like automotive, emotional intelligence (EQ) can seem to be very important. When fully understood, EQ can have a significant impact on the quality of customer service your dealership employees can offer.

During the workshops I conduct the emotional intelligence, I explain the concept as simply as possible: it is the awareness of your own emotions and the emotions of others, and the ability to manage your emotions .

Everyone can appreciate the value of a high IQ, but the human intelligence does not include the ability to engage in positive customer interactions. An employee with high EQ has the ability to diffuse high-tension situations, build meaningful relationships with customers, and communicate in a way that puts the customer at ease.

The shift in consumer buying habits from a relational approach, as well as the importance of positive customer interactions. Every interaction has your brand ambassadors can play an important part in increasing customer retention and loyalty at your dealership.

EQ AND CUSTOMER SERVICE RESULTS

I have trained thousands of people in customer service, and I know that the foundations of this concept are universal. The golden rule of quality customer service is one of the number one focus should always be the customer. In order to follow this golden rule, we must shift our focus to promote positive human interaction.

Anyone dealing with customers on the front-line has encountered a challenging situation. The car-buying process can be inherently stressful for some people, especially when they set foot in the Financial Services Office. Displaying empathy shows an understanding of the customer’s personal circumstances, allowing you to provide them with a personalized recommendation for the best-suited protection products. Dialing up your EQ can be very effective in communicating the risks involved with ownership.

Daniel Goleman, author and EQ guru, is responsible for bringing this concept to the business community. Using Daniel Goleman’s ideologies, we can see the different components of this theory, demonstrating how you can practice emotional intelligence in your dealership. For the purpose of this exercise, imagine that a customer returns to your dealership. He is angry that he can not figure out how to work the internal software on his new vehicle.

SELF-AWARENESS

When dealing with an angry customer, the first step in practicing EQ is to be self-aware in terms of how the customer is affecting you. When this customer is expressing his or her frustration in a way that you have raised your voice or point of view, your initial reaction is biological, in your amygdala. This area of your brain operates on an emotion rather than a logic, creating a risk of a raw, emotional reaction. By recognizing both your physical and physiological responses that arise within the first seven seconds, you gain the necessary perspective to respond to logical reasoning.

SELF-REGULATION

After recognizing your initial response, the next step is to self-regulate. Your ability to control disruptive impulses that suspend your judgment is critical in this stage. A useful tip is to be curious rather than judgmental, and give the customer the benefit of the doubt. Assume there is a valid issue, and remind yourself that your actions are a result of emotion, rather than taking your approach personally.

EMPATHY

Although it seems like common sense, practicing empathy is much easier said than done. When listening to the customer’s concerns, step up from your own emotions and consider the situation through the eyes of the customer. By considering what is triggering his anger or frustration and acknowledging the emotions he may have, you can make him feel at ease. A helpful tip for making the customer’s answer is to paraphrase or summarize his concerns.

SOCIAL SKILLS

Social awareness refers to the ability to manage relationships. Your intention should be as positive as possible given the circumstances. By focusing on the customer’s needs and emotions, you can achieve loyalty and increase your chances of customer retention.

Using the experience of a difficult customer interaction, this is the stage where you would offer a solution, such a personalized training for this individual on the technology that is causing him stress.

By moving through these steps when you encounter a situation of this nature, you will be satisfied with the customer’s initial expression of frustration, and that they will be satisfied with them.

TRAINING EMPLOYEES IN EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

There is no shortage of helpful tools that can provide employees with the skills they need to enhance their proficiency in emotional intelligence. One of my favorite books is Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. If your dealership’s employees are trained in customer service, it will be important to have a relationship with the customer.