What does it mean to be emotionally intelligent? It may be a question you haven’t thought about since that Psych 101 course you took in college, but it’s a topic extremely relevant to today’s marketer. A high-level definition of emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify and react to other people’s emotions.

For brands, EQ is especially important to customer acquisition and retention. With half of consumers ready to walk away from a brand after a negative experience, good customer experience has the power to impact the bottom line. A marketer can influence the customer relationship through channels like social media, website, phone calls, and more.

In a recent study on EQ, Invoca partnered with Adobe to find out how today’s consumers think brands are succeeding or failing to deliver emotionally intelligent experiences. You can dive deeper into the study’s findings here. We found that most consumers think that brands across industries are falling short in three key components of EQ—empathy, personalization, and adaptability.

It can be a challenge to successfully implement emotionally intelligent customer experiences. Brands typically don’t know if they are disappointing a customer until the customer is already disappointed—and probably angry about it. “Then brands spend time reacting to the disappointed few instead of thinking more broadly about creating a great experience,” says Adam Justis, Director of Product Marketing, Adobe Experience Cloud.

So how do companies get away from reactive customer experience and move towards proactively pleasing customers? A great start is collecting customer data—but data alone is not the answer. Using insights from their data, brands need to use human-driven EQ and take actions to improve experiences.

There are three ways brands can use EQ—empathize with problems, personalize the experience, and adapt based on customer feedback. By taking these actions, brands can provide customers with a relationship, not just a transaction.

We found three customer-centric brands across industries that have developed creative ways to build customer relationships through EQ. Each of these brands are demonstrating their ability to empathize with, personalize, or adapt to the customer experience.

1. USAA | Physically Training for Empathy

USAA is an insurance company that serves current and former military personnel and their families. Its tagline is “when you join USAA, you become a part of a family that stands by you during every stage of your life.” Military life comes with a unique set of challenges, and USAA goes above and beyond to help its employees empathize with its customers.

When an employee is hired at USAA, they go through a rigorous training called Zero Day led by real members of the military.

This program has been a tradition for over 20 years. It’s purpose is to help employees experience the emotions that come with training for the military. At the end of the training, employees are even given a dog tag to inspire them as they serve USAA customers. Employees use what is learned through the training to practice empathy as they serve USAA customers.

2. Delta Air Lines | Building Relationships Through Personalized Communication

David Mortensen was supposed to fly into Minneapolis on a Delta flight, but his flight was cancelled due to heavy snow. Delta emailed David, apologizing for the situation, and provided him with 10,000 bonus miles. David took to Twitter to share his story.

This experience was personalized for David. The email was about his specific issue, and was signed by a human—Heidi Gould, GM of Customer Care. Delta’s proactive personalized care turned a negative situation into an opportunity to strengthen its relationship with a customer.

3. Walmart | Adapting to the Expectations of Today’s Consumer

Walmart has struggled to bring its business into the new world of consumer expectations. It is on a mission to change that. Hearing the frustration of customers who do not want to spend time in crowded aisles looking for the one item they need, Walmart rolled out giant in-store pick-up kiosks. The kiosks allow customers to come in, scan their order receipt, and get their items—satisfying the consumer demand for convenience. Walmart listened to its customers’ changing expectations and took steps to adapt.

Every company, no matter the product or industry, is striving to build a stronger relationship with their customers. By using EQ to drive actions that improve customer experience, brands can increase loyalty and exceed expectations.

Want to read the full EQ report? Download it here.

Debby Haynam

Posted by Debby Haynam

Debby is Invoca's Content and Social Media Specialist. With combined passions for marketing and film production, she is dedicated to storytelling. When not creating marketing content, you can find her trying to find the best cup of coffee in San Francisco.

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