Exploring the Role of Emotional Intelligence in the Customer Service Industry
The customer service industry is a dynamic environment and serves as the face of an organisation. The purpose of this study was to explore the role of emotional intelligence in a revenue services office within the Public Sector in Durban, South Africa. In noting the significance that emotional intelligence has on service delivery, continued research was important to ascertain the role that emotional intelligence had in the customer service environment. Generally, a satisfied customer maintains loyalty and reciprocates with positive and constructive feedback. The motivation for this study was a scarcity of contemporary literature specifically on emotional intelligence within the customer service industry in South Africa. The purpose of this study was to explore the role of emotional intelligence and determine its importance to the customer service industry and during a customer service engagement. A qualitative research method with purposive sampling was employed and included management and employees from the branch operations division of the company under study. Interviews were conducted with fifteen participants in order to gain insight and understanding of their perceptions of emotional intelligence and the significance it plays in the customer service environment. The collected data was analysed using thematic analysis. The key findings indicated that both employees and managers understood the concepts of emotional intelligence concepts and provided a favourable indication that emotional intelligence has a significant role within the customer service environment. Another key finding revealed that emotional intelligence plays a significant part within the leadership of the customer service environment. The findings of this study established that emotional intelligence is essential for the customer and service employees in the customer service environment and provides the service employees with the ability to understand and reason with the emotions that arise and exist in the service engagement. The recommendation is that the leadership in the service environment should provide regular training on emotional intelligence, enabling service employees to be better equipped to deal with various types of customers and for the leadership in the service environment to manage their subordinates in an effective manner. The implications of this study can improve the emotional intelligence of service employees within the customer service industry and promote further research on this topic in South Africa.
Keywords: Emotional intelligence, customer service, management, public sector, South Africa