I travelled recently from Amsterdam to Accra with KLM. It was a big aeroplane with lots of passengers, clients with multiple demands and requests, inappropriately packed luggage, and parents with crying children. In addition, passengers who boarded the plane late were impatient, nervous, and stressed whereas some early went to the rightful owners. So many different emotions were on display on that plane.  I sat in my seat and patiently observed the passengers, as if it were a movie scene when suddenly I noticed an air hostess, Danielle. Danielle was different and her contagious enthusiasm began to calm the passengers down, one at a time. Danielle, I can say with confidence, is one of the best flight attendants I have encountered so far with excellent customer service.

In this article, we will first define Emotional Intelligence (EI) and Customer Service Excellence. Secondly, we will discuss the importance of EI in customer service and finally go on to share some EI tips we can learn from Danielle to improve upon our customer service delivery considerably.


Emotional Intelligence is defined as our ability to intelligently use our emotions in order to achieve positive results or the desired results or outcomes, objectives, or goals.

Excellent customer service is the ability not only to serve the client well by giving them what they have paid for but also to put yourself in their shoes in order to exceed their expectations. This is what makes the service rendered excellent.

Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Customer Service

Now, let us look at the importance of EI in serving our clients excellently.

There is a direct link between our emotions – the way we feel at work – and the way we attend to our clients.

An unhappy customer service executive, who is not appreciated or is overwhelmed by negative emotions, will directly or indirectly negatively affect the clients s/he is serving. As Maya Angelou rightly said, “I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” In an organisation where employees are truly appreciated, valued, and encouraged, the emotions are positive and these positive emotions lead to positive performance, which positively affects the customer service experience of clients.

In our case study, it is obvious that Danielle is emotionally intelligent and used her positive emotions to service the passengers excellently. Here are a few qualities, which made Danielle an outstanding EI flight attendant on that flight.

  1. Danielle understood her emotions: She was aware of her emotions. She knew how to handle her emotions positively in order to serve the passengers excellently.
  2. She understood the emotions of the passengers by showing genuine empathy.

She was conscious of their emotions. Empathy is one of the key ingredients to making your customers feel understood and valued. Once these are established, they remain loyal to you.

  • She was authentic, original, and genuine and had a very good sense of humour.

Being original and genuine in our service to our customers leaves a mark of unforgettable experiences with our clients.

  • She paid attention to detail.

As she served her passengers, one of her favorite questions she kept asking was, “is everything ok?” This was accompanied by a beautiful smile. There were many flight attendants but she served with her heart and gave her all. That attitude cannot leave a client indifferent.

  • Danielle has found her life’s purpose.

Customer service can just be a job one is paid for, but serving clients with passion is that one thing Danielle has found and is making good use of. She knows what she is born to do and is doing it very well. People who know or have found what they are born to do can make a great difference in the delivery of their service and the lives of others.


After lunch was served, I made my way to the back of the plane to let Danielle know how emotionally intelligent she is. Her response was, “I love what I do; serving clients and making them happy makes me happy.” We took a picture together and I asked for her permission to use my observation of her attitude as a case study in this article.

This article goes to serve as a free advertisement for KLM* because I was delighted by Danielle’s excellent service. Being an emotionally intelligent customer service provider will transform your clients into walking advertisements for you. Companies are strongly encouraged to invest in the development of the emotional intelligence of their staff – one of the most needed skills in the job market. This can make a huge difference in their profitability.

Patrick Abah-Dakou

*This is not a paid advertisement for KLM

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