How emotional intelligence can help you respect customer boundaries

  • Posted on April 8, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
How emotional intelligence can help you respect customer boundaries

Human behavior is governed by a number of unwritten rules and social expectations. We all know what’s ok and what’s not ok in certain situations – we have our own in – built sense of what’s appropriate. 

You (probably) wouldn’t stroll into a job interview and start asking your prospective boss about the state of their marriage. Nor would it be ok to ask a random stranger to read out their private text messages. It would break the social norms we all adhere to. 

However, if we’re going to broaden our social horizons and make new relationships, we need to show some emotional intelligence in order to bend these norms. We might extend an offer or act of kindness, like asking a work colleague to play golf at the weekend. You never know – it might be the start of a beautiful friendship. The same rules apply to the relationships between your company and your customers. 
Automation vs. real relationships
Boundaries exist in B2C and B2B relationships too – they’re an essential part of your customer engagement activities. However, for your business to operate at scale, automation is essential. The only way to maintain and nurture relationships with all your customers and prospects is to leverage technologies like CRM.

But CRM on its own is a blunt instrument. Yes, you can set communication preferences, opt-in and opt-out preferences, targeting based on segmentation and prior activity, and much more. Yet building relationships at scale (while sensitively nurturing deeper interactions) requires technology in order to operate autonomously.

We can’t code or configure all the rules that would be required for every situation, but we can define parameters within which tech can (and should) operate.

It's a bit like law. Parliament establishes laws, which are the legislative framework that the judiciary acts on. Laws are interpreted according to the circumstances of a given case, and prior events can also be used as precedents for future cases.

In the same way, we need to build frameworks that technology can use to determine next best actions. To know the extent to which it can push the boundaries of a customer relationship without going too far and to learn from what’s gone before, harnessing that knowledge for the future.

From artificial intelligence to emotional intelligence
It’s too simplistic to dismiss current AI capabilities solely as vehicles to process large amounts of data and determine the probability of an outcome. AI is capable of much more. But it’s widely accepted there’s a long way to go before we have true machine intelligence – and (by extension) emotional intelligence.

Today’s technologies have already commoditized what was considered “cutting edge” not so long ago. For example, Avanade is implementing intelligent customer engagement platforms using Microsoft Dynamics 365 that offer conversational AI, comprising:
  • Cognitive services: For language, speech and image recognition – allowing technology to interpret the reason and context of a contact.
  • Machine learning: To bring successes of the past to problems of the present – speeding case resolution and promoting cross- and up-selling.
  • Virtual agents: Bringing the items above together for automated natural-language conversations. This enables a tiered channel strategy with high-volume/low-complexity contacts automated and the seamless migration from virtual to human agents where necessary.


At the same time, we’re developing offerings that enable our clients to be future-ready now. We’re supporting the cultural and technology transformations that underpin the gradual adoption of emotional intelligence, driving deep customer relationships at scale.


The initiatives we’re supporting include helping organisations translate their goals and values into a digital ethics framework, and using data whisper patterns to drive exceptional customer experiences. A huge amount of research investment is being directed towards areas like these right now – Microsoft’s human understanding and empathy (HUE) research is a good example. Given the pace the industry is moving at, this could soon be core feature baked into Dynamics 365.


The intelligence behind customer engagement

Dynamics 365 is a suite of powerful business applications that can help your business to become Future Ready, Now. But you need a partner with the requisite expertise and know how to set you up for success.


Avanade has over 1,000 dedicated sales and service specialists, more than 3,500 analytics professionals and 400 AI practitioners across the world. And we’re also the number one worldwide for Microsoft Dynamics certifications. So, you can trust us to advise you when it comes to the exciting next-generation capabilities of AI- and ML-driven customer engagement.


Find out how to transform data whisper patterns into exceptional CX.

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