Can AI teach us to become more emotionally intelligent?

The debate over whether AI will replace humans in the workforce often boils down to two practical explanations: AI will replace humans for most repetitive and manual tasks, while humans will excel in soft skills such as creative communication and relationship building. While some of this is true – humans and machines will play to each of their trump cards – it probably oversimplifies the role of AI in our professional lives. We believe that AI will help humans do better human work, including helping us improve our emotional intelligence, soft skills, and interpersonal communication skills.

Taking advantage of advances in emotion detection, natural language processing (NLP) and computer vision, and combining them with psychology and linguistics, AI algorithms have improved to detect, analyze and process tone, pitch, facial expression, eye contact, body language, and dozens of other verbal and nonverbal communication characteristics influence communication.

By letting AI mine your customers’ conversations, whether voice, video or text, AI can take complex and often confusing data and find effective communication patterns that are not apparent to the naked eye. . The potential applications of these technologies go beyond sales and customer success. Many professional roles requiring strong communication skills, including leadership, public speaking, product management, virtual therapy, teaching, language learning, and bedside driving will benefit from AI which measures emotional intelligence. Indeed, by 2026, the combined market size of emotion detection and Conversational AI are expected to reach more than $55 billion.

Succeed with emotional intelligence and AI

From Peter Salvoy and John Mayer first defined Emotional Intelligence as “a type of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ emotions, discriminate between them, and use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions”, researchers and companies have attempted to demystify the art of being a “person of people”. Data has proven that emotional intelligence is a strong predictor of career success.

A Yale study found that emotional intelligence helps us make better decisions at work. Another Harvard study showed that emotional intelligence was more useful than IQ to predict team success. And a 10-year study at Google called Oxygen Project showed that emotional intelligence matters more to a person’s success as a manager than IQ or technical skills. The main takeaway: emotional intelligence is just as important as any “hard skill” and investing in it helps individuals and teams succeed at work.

A professional seeking to improve their emotional intelligence must juggle working on their own self-awareness and emotional self-management, while matching the emotional state of the clients they speak to. It’s not just the context of the current interaction and reading of the situation, but also the history with that person and their common goals. AI can help make this process easier for customer representatives: not only does it give you clues about the emotional profile of the customer on the other end of the line, but also allows you to simulate a conversation with them.

This type of insight is especially important in the high-stakes world of customer success, where the average customer success manager (CSM) manages from 2 to 5 million dollars in annual recurring revenue (ARR) and is often based outside of the United States. For them, understanding the cultural and interpersonal nuances of US-based customers is critical to success.

One company that recognized this is Gainsight, a leading customer success platform located in the Bay Area, which integrates EQ analysis into its hiring and onboarding, and is currently piloting with one of its customer success teams. located in India.

Gainsight uses Gong and Zoom to record calls between their India-based CSMs and America-based clients, then feeds the data into a conversational intelligence platform to analyze and understand learning styles, emotional responses, and behaviors. personality profiles of their customers. This data then feeds into a training simulator to help other CSMs prepare for upcoming calls with customers in the region. By refining their delivery in a personalized way and meeting customers on their emotional level, CSMs can accelerate a win-win program with customers.

AI and emotional intelligence in action

Sales data analytics company, Gong, analyzes interactions between salespeople and customers to help sales professionals communicate better and close more deals. Gong relies on machine learning (ML) and NLP to index customer emails and video calls, and extract qualitative insights from quantitative customer data to craft better arguments and adopt more persuasive language and empathetic. Gong is not a small startup that proselytes the promises of AI. It was just recently valued at $7.25 billion and his client list includes companies such as Accenture, LinkedIn, Service Titan, Slack, PayPal, Zillow and many more.

In early 2020, as the pandemic imposed global shutdowns, Zillow started using Gong to help its sales professionals transition from in-person to virtual selling. Zillow created a video tour and paired it with Gong trackers to monitor which keyphrases helped close more deals. Zillow also used Gong’s Whisper product, which ranks sales team members based on their performance, to determine how their best agents communicated and presented differently from the rest of the team, allowing managers to institutionalize those best agents. practice.

Another example is BenchSci, which helps pharmaceutical companies and scientists advance their clinical trials. A key aspect for VP of Customer Success Mike Egan is for his team to be proactive with customers to give them exactly the right support at the right time to turn them into their platform evangelists. Since pharmaceutical companies cannot record online meetings due to privacy and security concerns, BenchSci worked with an AI conversational intelligence platform, to capture signals from emails, support tickets and surveys. The platform can run personality and behavioral analyzes on the emotional state of the customer and allow the customer service representative to better reflect it and respond to customer service tickets.

The AI ​​feedback loop

Because customer interactions are so critical, the field of customer success has been fertile ground for establishing a 360-degree feedback loop of AI: insights into the emotional state of customers are provided before, during and after a customer interaction. In this section, we break down each step of the customer journey and the ways AI can help improve emotional intelligence.

Before a customer interaction:

Customer success managers should have an environment to train and practice before talking to customers, especially when they can classify the conversation. Is it a renewal? A customer cancellation? An upgrade request?

If you’ve spoken to a customer before, Cyrano.AI has patented technology that analyzes previous conversations to create a profile of the customer. This profile can include the customer’s communication style, identifiable priorities or goals, and even their engagement levels shown in the last conversation. If you look at the emotional moments of the call and how they drive motivation, you can modify your presentation to suit your customer’s personality type and see how they respond.

During a customer interaction:

Customer service and customer success managers can get real-time feedback and guidance to better close a deal, handle objections, or empathize with unhappy customers in real time. Cresta, for example, uses AI to give call center employees real-time feedback via text prompts, so they know what to say to customers in the most common situations. If a customer has an objection, the technology displays a step-by-step prompt to help sales reps overcome it. A dissatisfied customer? The technology brings up key phrases or words to calm the customer.

EarthLink, a publicly traded Internet Service Provider (ISP), used Cresta to modernize its contact center operations, helping its agents communicate with more empathy. In the first month of using Cresta, EarthLink reported an 11% reduction in average handle time (AHT) and a 124% improvement in VAS conversion rate, which is a success by all perspectives.

After a customer interaction:

The post-customer interaction is where the real power lies, as the AI ​​can read past conversations with the customer and provide feedback on improvement. As in a virtuous circle, the more AI is used, the better the feedback.

Reciprocity, a leading risk and compliance platform headquartered in San Francisco, enables exactly this scenario for their CSM team as part of their tech stack. As their client meetings are recorded in Gong, they analyze those calls with a conversational and emotional intelligence platform, which not only provides a personality profile of their clients’ stakeholders based on past conversations, but uses natural language generation (NLG) to advise CSMs on how to work with specific people. The software can also match CSMs to customer stakeholders based on their similarity in personality and communication style, reducing friction in the buying or upselling process and enabling customer-focused individuals to communicate more authentically and effectively.

Businesses are advised to explore AI solutions that can help make their teams more emotionally intelligent and better communicators. Indeed, AI can improve our emotional intelligence by making us more self-aware and helping us manage key work relationships. Improving our emotional intelligence and communication skills makes us more efficient, productive and empathetic. Although the technology is far from perfect, it is getting smarter every day as platforms increase in data, scale, and sophistication. Technology is in place to make our teams more emotionally intelligent and businesses more successful and profitable.

About Roberto Frank

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