Why Customer Service Reps Need IQ, EQ and CQ

Service leaders can significantly improve reps’ performance if they develop and support their control quotient — the ability to control their work, themselves and their emotions.

Jonathan’s first service center customer of the day is a repeat caller, one who has complex problem that may take a lot of effort to resolve. Despite Jonathan’s experience with the company, knowledge of the product and his service center training, he’s just not able to take control and close the issue.

Basic skill sets coupled with investments in emotional intelligence (EQ), empathy and problem-solving development provide a small boost to service rep performance at first, but soon after, rep performance plateaus. Worse yet, the development of multiple rep skills at once can result in resources being spread too thin, which can reduce their effectiveness.

High CQ can lead to an 11.2% increase in rep performance

“To take a focused approach to development, service leaders need to understand the particular set of skills that have the biggest impact on rep performance,” says Tiffany Fountain, practice leader at Gartner.

Gartner identified a set of rep attributes that have the most impact on the rep’s performance. These attributes make up a reps’ control quotient (CQ), which quantifies the ability to exercise ownership over his/her daily work and to remain in control in stressful situations. Research finds that high CQ can lead to an 11.2% increase in rep performance.

Gartner: Rep Performance Impact

Understand a rep’s CQ

Reps who exhibit high CQ display a group of interrelated skills and behaviors that help meet customers’ increased expectations. High CQ reps:

  • Stay resilient and calm during interactions with demanding customers
  • Exercise ownership of their interactions at all times
  • Take responsibility and respond well to constructive criticism
  • Avoid “burn out” despite pressure of high-stress job

High-CQ reps evaluate situations in the moment, think outside the box and deliver a solution to complex customer issues. Ninety-four percent of reps already have the potential to exercise CQ, so developing this skill does not come from changing something in reps, but rather by management of them.

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Create a high-CQ environment

To drive performance, service organizations must focus on three key attributes to exercise the CQ potential reps already possess. Sales leaders must:

  1. Signal trust in reps: Eliminate the checklist quality assurance (QA) scorecard for reps in favor of a more flexible QA process. Ensure service reps are focused on the overall quality of the interaction by de-emphasizing average handle time (AHT).
  2. Align reps to organizational goals: Write clear, action-oriented service goals that give reps guidance and have clear outcomes on the individual and organizational level. Provide opportunities for reps to connect to and internalize service goals to promote a higher level of investment in and accountability to goals.
  3. Strengthen rep peer support networks: Leverage rep knowledge, such as lessons learned and best practices, through a virtual collaborative forum. Encourage a peer coaching program to supplement existing coaching activities.

By understanding CQ and its positive impact on rep performance, service leaders can enable high CQ in all reps. Service leaders should screen for CQ potential as part of the hiring process, look at CQ development opportunities and create an environment that enables reps to exercise the CQ potential they already possess.

Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders clients can read The Control Quotient (CQ).