Why You Should Hire Agents Based on EQ Not IQ

Contact Center | 3 minute read

When hiring new talent, it’s easy to get caught up in qualifications and work experience. However, customer service professionals need more than smarts to be successful — especially when working in a contact center.

Empathy is one of the hottest topics in the industry right now, with the pandemic revealing how important genuine human connections are. This skill isn’t something you can immediately identify in a resume and cover letter, and it’s definitely not something your candidates can take a course in.

Empathy is one of the hottest topics in the industry right now, with the pandemic revealing how important genuine human connections are. #CustomerService Click To Tweet

We did some digging on the best indicators of high EQ so you can narrow down your next superstar hire!

The Difference Between EQ and IQ

The terms “IQ” and “EQ” get thrown around a lot, especially in the workplace. IQ stands for “Intelligence Quotient,” which typically indicates academic intelligence. On the flip side, EQ stands for “Emotional Quotient” and refers to one’s ability to identify, evaluate, and manage their own emotions, as well as those around them.

Both of these scores are important when measuring employee performance. However, according to Business World, IQ only covers 10-25%of the equation, meaning EQ is responsible for around 75% of a person’s ability to succeed in the workplace. It’s also an excellent indicator of someone’s leadership skills and ability to work in a team.

Why EQ is Important for Customer Support Agents

If EQ is a strong indicator of a person’s ability to succeed in the workplace, it’s even more true for customer service professionals. After all, EQ is directly rooted in one’s social-emotional skills.

Customer support is about more than just solving problems. A huge part of this role is the ability to tune into the customer’s feelings and support them emotionally. The pandemic cemented this fact as customer support agents across the world dealt with overwhelming call volumes, many from distressed individuals looking for a human connection during the lockdown.

Your customers want that human interaction — if they didn’t, they’d be dealing with chatbots and emails. But the voice channel remains the most popular form of support for businesses. It’s more important than ever to invest in hiring and training agents to be more compassionate so they can build lasting relationships for your company.

How to Identify EQ Qualities in a Candidate

Now that we’ve established the importance of EQ in contact center agents, the question remains: how do I find the right talent?

1. Read their cover letter

The cover letter is one of the earliest touchpoints where you can get to know a candidate. It’s much more telling than a resume when it comes to evaluating EQ. Remember, you can teach technical skills, but you can’t teach social-emotional skills!

2. Pay attention to how they treat others

Don’t just take the candidate’s behavior in the interview at face value. How did they treat the receptionist who greeted them at the door? The custodian they passed in the hallway? The way they treat other people in ordinary settings can speak volumes.

3. Evaluate their listening skills

One important quality in a contact center agent is their ability to listen to a customer, remain engaged, and provide helpful answers. During the interview, pay attention to how they answer the questions. Are their answers thoughtful? Do they indicate that they’re in tune with your experience?

4. Ask behavioral interview questions

Behavioral interview questions are among the best ways to get a sense of how a candidate responds to different and often challenging scenarios. You may choose to ask them about a time they disagreed with someone and how they addressed the situation, or how they’ve handled irate customers in previous roles. Be prepared to use follow-up questions to delve into their mental process and understand their unique perspective!

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