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Managing emotions in stressful situation for clients

customer emotions

Written by Miguel Sanz for Buljan & Partners Consulting

The words “managing customers’ emotions” are tremendously attractive to companies and there is no doubt that they are key to establishing an emotional bond with customers.

What do companies do to manage customer emotions?

Let’s take a look at the essence of this topic, without delving too deeply into sophisticated but not so useful explanations. How do companies manage customers’ emotions? Are they able to detect and manage stressful situations when they occur?

The answer I’m about to give should not be taken as the last word on the subject (it is not in my humble nature to dogmatize). In my experience, many companies invest resources in training their employees (DISC or Enneagram of Personality) in order to identify the behaviors or the personality types of their customers. This enables them to better understand their customers and teaches them how to adapt to customers in order to more deftly manage the customer’s experience. It is also true that many companies do not invest in this type of training because they don’t believe in it, they don’t have the resources or they think that their employees already possess this knowledge.

Emotions management training for employees

I applaud the companies that invest in their employees to teach them how to manage their own emotions and those of their customers. But I’d like to reflect on three situations that lead me to believe that there is much more to it than just training your employees. In business management, it is very important to ensure that everything customer-related is coordinated in the same direction.

I’m going to explain how I felt in three different situations that were somewhat critical for me:

  • Some time ago, as a customer of Mutua Madrileña I called to cancel my car insurance and at the end of the process the agent asked me if I would like to take out health insurance with them, to which I replied that I was leaving the company. I was breaking off relations with the company and they were trying to get me to stay on by selling me a different product, without understanding how disenchanted I was.
  • Subsequently, as a Direct Seguros customer, I was involved in a minor accident due to a wrong turn taken by the other driver. I called Direct Seguros on the spot to find out how to proceed and although the telephone service was good (still in “shock” from the accident), the agent asked me if I wanted to supplement my coverage or something to that effect. I replied that at that moment I was not in a position to think about purchasing anything and that I just wanted to relax and try to resolve the accident that had just left me without the use of my vehicle.
  • As a “superfan” of ING I have to say that on one occasion I went to the ATM of another bank to withdraw money and upon seeing the high commission they charged I decided to cancel the operation. However, at the same time I received a message telling me that I had withdrawn €40 from the ATM and I confirmed that it had been deducted from my account. I called ING immediately (customer service was good as always) and they told me that the operation had been canceled but that the system took a while to update. What puzzled me was that at the end of the call I was asked if I wanted to take out a loan. Obviously, my response was to say, “thank you very much but now is not the time because I need to withdraw cash and I’m in a hurry.” Clearly, they did not know how to identify or manage my level of stress, which at that time was relatively high since I thought I had lost the money I wanted to withdraw due to a computer error or my own mistake.

In all three cases, I was not in the proper emotional state to evaluate whether or not I wanted to take out a loan, supplement my coverage or take out a new policy. In that moment, when my emotional stress level was at a peak, the only thing that mattered was to answer my questions, nothing more. Employees can be trained, but in designing business processes and objectives, everything goes hand in hand and common sense is paramount.

In concluding this post, I would just like to note that all three of these companies have taken some very good steps in the area of customer experience but the situations discussed here should be considered and avoided.

Miguel Sanz is Senior Consultant in Buljan & Partners Consulting. Miguel is Service Line Leader for Customer Experience Management and has experience in CRM and project management across different industries since 2009.

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