Harnessing Emotional Intelligence for Enhanced Customer Service

At the recent Public Media Business Association (PMBA) Annual Conference, Tina Nguyen, Program and Outreach Coordinator for the San Diego County Senior Transportation Program operated by On the Go, delivered an enlightening presentation on emotional intelligence (EI) in customer service. During her session, she defined EI as managing one's emotions and understanding others', emphasizing its importance in high-touch interactions with vulnerable populations.

Emotional Intelligence at On the Go

Customer Service lady

On the Go recognizes that traditional customer service approaches often fall short, as they typically do not account for the unique needs of older adults and individuals living disabilities. To address this gap, we train our Transportation Support Representatives (TSRs) from an EI framework, equipping them with skills to handle calls with enhanced empathy and understanding, providing better support to high-needs populations.

Customer Service lady

Key Components of EI Training

  • Active Listening: TSRs are trained to listen actively, focusing on tone and emotion, ensuring they fully understand riders' needs before responding.
  • Repetition and Acknowledgment: Techniques like repeating callers' statements and acknowledging their feelings help alleviate any concerns and make riders feel heard.
  • Role-Playing: Real-life scenarios prepare TSRs for common emotional interactions, helping them apply their emotional intelligence skills.
  • Empathy: Training emphasizes understanding and sharing riders' feelings, fostering deeper connections and a more compassionate service experience.
  • Team Communication: EI training also improves internal communication among TSRs, creating a positive work environment that benefits interactions with riders.

Benefits of EI Training

Nguyen outlined several benefits of incorporating EI training into On the Go's operations. These include improved customer satisfaction, increased employee engagement, and a more cohesive team environment. TSRs trained to connect emotionally with riders can better address their needs and provide a more personalized service experience.

"Emotional intelligence has helped me assist both my team and our riders. The training has taught me how to balance my emotions, enabling me to respond with empathy. As a result, I have been able to help my team navigate their challenges without letting other emotions influence me." – Taylor N., TSR Supervisor

Tina Nguyen's presentation at the PMBA Annual Conference shed light on the significant impact of emotional intelligence in customer service. By prioritizing emotional connections alongside logistical efficiency, On the Go addresses the immediate needs of riders and enhances their overall well-being, fostering meaningful connections one ride at a time.


Nguyen, Tina. "Emotional Intelligence in Customer Service." Public Media Business Association Annual Conference Presentation, 2024.

Emotional Intelligence Training Notes. On the Go, 2024.