Did you know?
According to British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, the average human being can only maintain a stable relationship with approximately 150 people. This is referred to as Dunbar’s Number. In short, this is the number of people you know on an inter-personal level and can reasonably predict how they will interact with others and respond to different situations.
What does this have to do with customer engagement? Everything. In a service based industry where your team is engaging dozens of different faces every day, it is simply impossible to remember everyone. As a result, customers can feel unimportant, unappreciated, and underwhelmed with your service.
What makes great service great?
If you ask this same question to ten different people, you will probably get a handful of different answers. Some customers prefer a very hands-on and detailed approach that tells them which step to take next. Some customers will want to get to know you personally, while others will want to get in and get out with very little social interaction. Great customer engagement looks and feels a little different for each customer.
With a little focus and effort, you can learn a quick and effective method for recognizing a customer’s preferences and flexing your behavior to match their expectation. Using the DISC acronym your team can make quick and discrete notes about a customer’s preferences that will help them and other team members communicate with the customer more effectively.
What is DISC?
DISC is an acronym used to identify four different behavioral styles: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance. Understanding these four factors and which form of communication your customer prefers is vital to giving great customer service. A DISC Assessment measures how often you use each of the four factors.
Recognizing the four DISC factors:
Dominance is a person’s need for getting results and having control, as well as their source of drive and ambition. “High D” people operate at a quick pace, and they prefer to get down to business quickly. They like bullet points and getting things done. Whenever you are feeling self-motivated, driven to accomplish something, or are anxious to get started, you are using your ‘D’ Factor.
Influence is a person’s need to express themselves, their preferred degree of communication, and their source of persuasion. High I’s like an interaction with people, discussing anything, and relationships. You’ll see them as talkative (perhaps jumping from topic to topic) as well as friendly and open. Whenever people feel enthusiastic, warm, or trusting they are using the ‘I’ Factor.
Steadiness is a person’s need for consistency and their source of thoughtfulness and strategy. Kindness, loyalty, and being supportive are all ‘S’ traits, as are calmness and careful listening. When you go out of your way to help someone, you are using your ‘S’ Factor.
Compliance is a person’s need for structure, planning, and their source of organization. “High C’s” prefer to follow rules and knowing what the format and expectations will be upfront. This makes them feel at ease. You might notice “High C’s” being careful and cautious, wanting to be accurate and tactful. They like details, so please allow sufficient time for them to ask questions. When you become extremely focused on completing tasks, on time and within budget, you are using your ‘C’ Factor.
Communicating with co-workers using DISC:
Once you identify a person’s preferences you can quickly and easily communicate those preferences to co-workers by drawing attention to their tendencies. If you see someone that just wants results and wants you to get to the point you can let others know they are “High D”; if they are very talkative label them “High I”; thoughtful and strategic “High S”; or organized and structured “High C”. A customer can have more than one elevated or “high” factor score.
For instance, a “High DI” would be someone who is interested in results (High D) and other people’s opinions (High I). Take a personal approach and talk to them in a friendly manor. Tell them the course of action you recommend taking and when. They are more concerned with the “what” than the “why”.
A “High SC” would be someone who is primarily concerned with making well thought out choices (High S) and taking an organized or planned approach (High C). Take a more time to ask questions and make sure that they understand the “why”.
Quick tips to adapt to each DISC Factor:
Always remember to keep your elevated DISC factors and preferences in mind so that you can adjust and flex (dial up or dial down) your behaviors to match the customer’s preferences. When possible try to maintain a mid to high level of Influence (communication) and Steadiness (thoughtfulness) to ensure the customer is well aware of what you are doing and why. Influence and Steadiness are the people-oriented factors so remember to put the customer first and this will be relatively easy.
Pick up the pace if you are not yourself a High D. Try to be brief and to the point. Keep on topic, then move to the next. High Ds only like details that lead to a result they want, so take their lead on this. Paint ‘the big picture’ of what options are available to them and guide them to your suggested option. Demonstrate your company’s results and talk about its competence in the marketplace.
Take on a more sociable, informal, and relaxed style. Never be abrupt and make sure you begin with a little small talk to break the ice. Smile. Listen intently with open body language when they talk about how they feel. Ideally, interject humor and keep the conversation light. Flatter them and praise them for their accomplishments.
Be consistent, calm, and patient. Do not interrupt. Be logical and systematic in your approach. Choose your words wisely, High S’s are great listeners. Take time to respond thoughtfully to their questions. Give them a bit more time than you might be used to (because of their heightened level of thoughtfulness).
Be prepared. Explain the process. Ask if they have any questions prior to starting and be prepared to respond with details. Hand them paperwork before, during and/or after the visit to satisfy their need for details. Make sure the next steps and actions needed from the customer are crystal clear.
Why does this matter?
DISC assessments improve customer service. By implementing a “DISC Culture” in your business and putting this DISC language into practice it will allow your team to function quickly and more efficiently. Your customers will feel the improved customer service because your staff will be communicating within the customer’s comfort zone as opposed to their own. By improving customer service, you will limit attrition and increase repeat business and follow up appointments.