Understanding people -- their behavior, motivations, fears, and challenges -- has long been a necessity for businesses to improve their performance.
However, most organizations struggle to implement a strategy to capture, evaluate and make use of their prospects' and customers' behavioral styles in an effective way. Either they haven't thought about it yet or they haven't found a good solution to work it into their sales and customer support process. Either way, there is a lack of awareness of the different behavioral styles and its application in business.
We recently did a DiSC assessment to find out how each of our team members ticks, where our strength and weaknesses lie and how we can collaborate better. Going through this process with our digital marketing agency, it was interesting to unveil how we can improve our internal communication and how team members with particular styles are suited better for one or the other job. We also got vital insights into what personality types would sit well with our expanding team. To our surprise, along the way of this assessment, we have discovered how we can improve our customer service process with this model. And that's exactly what I'd like to share with you in this article.
There are four different personality traits which are Dominance (D), Influence (i), Steadiness (S), and Conscientiousness (C). DiSC is a straightforward, useful, easy to remember and unanimously applicable model. It emphasizes individual patterns of behaviors and measures characteristics for each of the four styles.
Descriptions of Each DiSC Behavior Style
Psychologists found that people who have a Dominant (D) style typically show direct and guarded behaviors. They are also fast-paced and task-oriented, whereas people with an Influential (i) style show direct and open behaviors and have a tendency to be fast-paced and people-oriented. Yet people who belong to the category Steadiness (S) typically demonstrate indirect and open behaviors and as such are slower-paced and people-oriented. Individuals with a Conscientious (C) style encompass indirect and guarded behaviors, and are inclined to be faster-paced and people-oriented.
Naturally, tensions can arise when people with different styles come together, particularly if none of them accommodates their style to the counterpart.
When individuals who are task-oriented and fast-paced deal with people-oriented and slower-paced folks, they can, unsurprisingly, clash and it can lead to serious tensions. In your private life, you can simply walk away from a person with a style that doesn't suit you, but at work, it's hard to avoid team members, and if you do, it will have a serious impact on the team dynamic.
Even worse, when it comes to business relationships and dealing with customers, it could have a detrimental impact on your business performance. Incompatibilities can lead to tensions, anger, and severe dissatisfaction. To prevent that, your customer-facing staff members should be adequately trained and prepared to adjust and adapt to communicate and work with people of any style.
How to Improve Customer Service with DiSC
Knowing the DiSC theory and taking the DISC assessment within your organization is a good starting point. But how can you implement it into your day-to-day business processes and conversations?
The theory can be easily taught, and everyone can be trained to spot simple and easily identifiable personality traits. What you need is a system that guides your staff members of where, when and how these personality styles need to be identified. Here are some ways personality assessment and adaptation training can benefit your customer service team:
1. Turn your CRM into a psychological analysis tool.
A CRM, like HubSpot, offers a ton of valuable information, but it doesn't tell your customer support team how to behave -- and that's what training is for. It does, however, have the capability to store information about contacts -- information that's universally available to your whole team and that can be used to your advantage in customer conversations.
We all know about the importance of profiling leads and customers within your CRM, and there are many ways to do so. Whether that's by means of a note within your contact record, a custom field, or a tag, it doesn't matter how you do it, but you should do it in one way or another.
I'm personally in favor of custom fields. What this means is, that there is a customizable field within your contact record. My personal favorite is a drop-down custom field where you can define your own options.
In our case, we've defined a custom field with drop-down options -- not for the DISC identifiers themselves, because it would be too ambiguous, but terms associated with each DISC style. We called the custom field "Personality Style" and the dropdown options we've defined are:
Fast-Paced & Task-Oriented
Slower-Paced & People-Oriented
Slower-Paced & Task-Oriented
Fast-Paced & People-Oriented
Next, we've defined in our process that the personality trait needs to be identified and stored in the CRM after the first or second human interaction with a lead or customer. Should the field stay empty after the first interaction, an automated task is created to remind our reps.
Besides creating a training module with videos, we have set up an internal help doc that is available to team members to quickly and easily look up how to best identify and collaborate with each personality style.
2. Categorize your contacts' personality traits.
While a personality trait can become evident through natural conversation and engagement with a prospect or customer, we've defined a set of questions to ask that help with the identification process.
What is your ideal turnaround time?
Are you fine with a monthly marketing report via email, or would you prefer we call you every month?
Do you want to focus on a short-term or a long-term strategy?
These questions start to lay out for you which personality time and tendencies the contact most likely embodies to help future conversations and interactions be successful.
3. Work fast.
Whenever I deal with call center agents, the people on the other end of the line they are overly friendly, and many times I find that their style is indirect and slow-paced. It's a process that was obviously defined top-down to ensure each customer feels valued and respected by the company.
Unfortunately, I am a direct and fast-paced person. So when I call Optus, my telephone provider, to change my mobile phone plan, it's already enough trouble to reach the right department after being transferred three times.
But when they try to break the ice with lengthy small talk, it can really frustrate me. I'm calling for one reason and one reason only -- to solve my problem fast. I don't want to be on the phone for one hour, so, I'm impatient when I'm on the customer end of the phone call.
If an interaction like this happens on the first call, customer support reps should store the information in their CRM so that, on the next call, the rest of the team already knows to just focus on the subject matter and to move fast when it comes to me. It would leave me much more satisfied and I would come off the phone happier with a better feeling about the company.
On the flip side of that, noting details if a customer does like small talk, and is more amenable to issues or changes with more of a human touch, that information can help reps quickly identify how to best serve the customer.
Over to You
The results of your DISC assessment can improve internal communication and collaboration. The model can and should also be applied to customer interactions to find out what personality traits your individual customers have, and use this knowledge to your advantage. By storing the information about customers' personalities in your CRM to make it universally available to all team members, and training your team how to best deal with each personality type, you'll ensure smoother customer conversations and collaboration.
To learn more on this topic, read about how to deal with rude customers next.
Originally published Nov 7, 2018 8:00:00 AM, updated April 15 2021