Each person is unique in the way they see the world and interact with it. For anyone in a customer-facing role, the ability to adapt your style of communication to match that of the person you are facing is a must. Individuals who do not have the ability or awareness to adjust their communication style to suit the needs of different customers will likely struggle in customer service and miss out on opportunities to build deeper relationships, both personal and professional.
Personality profiling is a valuable tool for navigating any environment that is rich in interaction. The key lies in self-awareness and in appreciating the preferred communication styles of others. There are several useful personality assessment tests out there, including the Meyer-Briggs Type Indicator, Adizes’ PAEI Model, and the DiSC Model. In this article, I will use the DiSC model to illustrate the concept.
The DiSC Model
The DiSC Model is used to understand and categorize personality types, behavioral tendencies, and communication styles. You can do the DiSC assessment to identify your own profile, and you can also use its guidelines to make an educated guess about other people’s profiles. Recognizing your own way of communicating and how it may be different from those around you will empower you to become a better team player, a more effective leader, and more adaptable when it comes to caring for your members.
Psychologist Dr. William Marston created the original DiSC Model in 1928 (interesting fact: Marston was also the creator of Wonder Woman). Since then, the model has exploded in popularity, and has been used by over 70% of Fortune 500 companies in team building, as a way to screen job applicants, and more.
The DiSC model assesses key elements of your behavior and personality and profiles you as Dominant, Influencing, Steady, or Conscientious (or some combination thereof). Your profile represents characteristics pertaining to your motivations, behavior, and communication and decision-making styles. It indicates where you stand in relation to the population average on the spectra of task- vs people-oriented and fast- vs moderate-paced. For example, if you are classified as a D, you are probably more fast-paced and task-oriented than most others. If you are an I, you are likely enthusiastic, optimistic, and prefer to communicate in an indirect and emotional way. An S is likely to be calm, deliberate, people-oriented, and non-confrontational. And a C is probably more cautious, logical, data-oriented, and very concerned with getting things just right.
How does this foster better communication with customers?
In both personal and professional settings, effective communication enriches our lives and helps us build stronger relationships. This is especially true for those in service-forward roles, such as health club operators and customer care representatives. Research shows that mirroring the behavior of your counterpart in conversation is helpful for sales, negotiation, and providing better service When we adopt the language, tone, or body-language of the person we’re talking to, we are able to foster trust and deepen our connection to that person. Assessments such as the DiSC profile are great tools to learn how to better relate to your customers on this level, and applying these principles will help you create greater customer satisfaction and loyalty.
For example, let's assume that you read through the DiSC Model and determined that you are ‘Dominant,’ meaning that when it comes to communication, you are strong-willed and straight to the point. When you are cognizant of your own style of communication and aware that each person is different, it is easier to notice that the customer you are engaging with is actually in the ‘Steadiness’ category. While you operate in a very fast-paced and task-oriented way, the person in front of you likes to take things slowly and methodically, with a people-oriented approach.
You will want to adjust your communication style with this person in order to effectively build rapport with them. You might soften your delivery, slow down, and recognize that this person is not as apt to share their opinion with you outright, so you may need to find a gentle way to communicate and draw out their responses. This doesn't mean changing who you are. It simply means appreciating who they are and working to deliver your message in a way that will be impactful for them. Making this person feel a sense of security when speaking to you will help them open up and improve the quality of the interaction.
The above was only one example of interactions between two different personality types, but the principle can be applied to any combination of DiSC characteristics. Learning about yourself and other personality types will enable you to speak to others with a new sense of understanding.
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