When we talk about how DISC can improve communication, we usually discuss communication within the workplace – between team members or with managers, for example.
However, while DISC can be an invaluable tool for improving communication between employees, it also has its benefits for communicating with customers. For anyone working in sales, customer service, or any other customer-facing role, DISC is the key that unlocks better communication with potential or current customers.
Let’s explore how DISC can benefit your customer communications in more detail.
But first, what exactly is DISC?
The DISC assessment, often referred to as just DISC or the DISC personality model, is a popular form of psychometric assessment used by organisations around the world. Based on the theories of psychologist William Moulton Marston, the assessment seeks to categorise people based on their behavioural styles.
The DISC self-assessment identifies four main personality profiles:
- Dominance: direct, assertive, and goal-oriented, people with the D personality type tend to be go-getters who enjoy working independently, taking risks, and making decisions.
- Influence: energetic, friendly, and persuasive, individuals with the I personality type love working alongside other people and motivating their team with their enthusiasm.
- Steadiness: dependable, hard-working, and cautious, people with the S type enjoy a slower paced and more harmonious work environment and are great team workers.
- Compliance: analytical, logical, and research-driven, individuals with the C personality type strive for perfection in everything they do and prefer to work independently rather than with other people.
Of course, many people do not fit neatly into just one of these categories. Many of us exhibit behaviours related to multiple of the DISC types – for example, somebody might be a combination of Influence and Steadiness or Compliance and Dominance.
How does the DISC personality assessment work?
The DISC assessment is a short self-assessment that can be completed in 15 minutes or less. Afterwards, individuals receive their results which indicate their personality type and related behaviours, strengths, limitations, and opportunities for growth. This can provide key insights into an individual’s personality and help them better communicate, resolve conflict, and collaborate with others.
Now that we’ve explained how the DISC assessment works, let’s take a closer look at some of the ways DISC can be used to improve customer communications.
DISC insights allow employees to identify their strengths and growth opportunities
One of the key ways that an understanding of the DISC styles can improve communication with customers is by allowing employees to recognise their own strengths and limitations. No DISC style is better at communicating than others; each has its own strengths and limitations when it comes to interacting with customers.
For example, a person with the Dominance personality type may consider themselves to be the perfect personality for sales. Direct, competitive, and good at working independently, the D style often seems like the ideal personality for the job. While other DISC styles may struggle with persistent cold calling or commission-based sales, D types are in their element in this competitive selling environment. An awareness of their personality style allows them to play to their strengths in this role.
However, a DISC assessment can also provide insights into the communication limitations that hold D types back in the role. For example, while a D type’s assertiveness is often a good thing, D types may sometimes appear overly abrasive or impatient to others. Their focus on their goals and ambitions may cause them to forget to listen to other people’s perspectives. A quiet customer on the phone with a D type may sometimes struggle to get a word in edgeways!
Thanks to the insights provided by DISC, a Dominance type can recognise their tendency to dominate the conversation and work on their communication style to make customers more comfortable. They might make a conscious effort to listen to customers’ perspectives before launching into their spiel or choose to ask more questions rather than making statements about the benefits of the thing they are selling.
Another example might be an individual with an S style personality. Steadiness types are calm and supportive, using their great listening skills and dependability to build trust with customers. Unlike a D type, their profile means that they probably don’t love cold calling or commission-based sales, but they’re your go-to person when it comes to building relationships with customers and upselling to them.
However, S types also have their own limitations and areas for growth in sales roles. For example, their calm and easygoing personality may mean that they struggle to be pushy or direct in some situations. S types prefer to avoid conflict and don’t like to rock the boat, so they might need to work on their ability to be more assertive with prospective clients. Finally, to sell more effectively, they might need to push themselves out of their comfort zone and try new things or take risks.
In summary, a DISC assessment can be a valuable way to get your sales staff thinking about how they can play to their own DISC profile’s unique strengths and work to overcome their limitations. This can allow them to become more well-rounded professionals who can work more effectively in their roles.
DISC helps employees understand customers’ communication styles
An understanding of the various DISC styles can also be valuable in allowing employees to think about the personality types of their customers and adjust their communication to best suit them.
For example, perhaps a salesperson is trying to make a sale to a customer who is asking lots of detailed questions about many aspects of the product but is dragging their feet about making a decision. This customer is a classic example of the Compliance type. C style customers often take longer to research their purchases than any other DISC profile; they want to make sure that they’re getting the perfect product or service for the best price and they don’t mind spending weeks or months researching first — often to the frustration of everyone else!
The logical and analytical nature of C types means that they want to explore every opportunity before making a decision, and even then they might worry that they haven’t made the perfect choice. Moreover, they can be quite risk-averse, wanting to evaluate solid evidence of the benefits of a purchase. This is the type of customer who already has a pros and cons list written out before they even pick up the phone — they’re notoriously hard to make a sale to on the first attempt.
With an understanding of DISC, anyone working in sales can understand the motivations and goals of this high C customer: they want accuracy and perfection and they don’t mind delaying their purchase in order to achieve this. Armed with this insight into the Compliance personality, a salesperson can adapt their process to suit this buying style. For example, they can prepare a list of the answers to detailed questions in order to provide the customer with the information they desire. They can also slow the pace of their selling — trying to rush a C type into a decision will never go well.
Of course, your sales professionals will never know the DISC personality profile of a prospective customer with 100% certainty. However, with effective DISC training they will be able to bring a deeper understanding of the different personality styles and the way they translate into buying styles. DISC paves the way for a deeper and more empathetic understanding of potential customers, allowing salespeople to adapt their selling style and process to make them tick.
DISC makes more effective customer service teams
We’ve talked a lot about how understanding DISC profiles can improve salespeople’s interactions with customers, but what about customer service professionals? DISC can also enhance customer service in a few key ways, especially when the team works closely together.
DISC profiling and training is crucial to ensure that any team is working together to its full potential. Consider the different customer service styles that might exist within a team:
- A D type’s customer service often focuses on results and quick decisions – they want to take charge of the situation and see it through.
- An I style’s customer service profile is more friendly, persuasive, and positive – they enjoy helping customers and it shows.
- An S type’s customer service profile may be quieter and more reserved but they’re great and patient listeners who create trust with the customer.
- A C style’s customer communication style is meticulous and cautious, great for customers who want answers to a lot of questions or who expect written communication rather than interacting face to face.
Without an understanding of DISC, different team members may struggle to see the value in their coworkers’ style of working. For example, a C type might become frustrated with an I style who chats a lot to customers but doesn’t always provide them with the important details, while conversely the I type might judge the C type’s style as cold or unfriendly. An S type might find a D style’s customer service overly direct or assertive, while a D type might consider the S profile’s too easy going and not driven by results.
Without a good comprehension of the different behaviours, strengths, and limitations associated with each profile, it’s likely that team members may not see the value in the various different personalities in their team. However, after learning more about DISC they can better appreciate the way that different team members are better suited for different situations.
‘Let me pass you over to my colleague,’ a C type might say when they realise that a customer isn’t much interested in the details but wants a friendly and positive customer service representative with an I profile. ‘I know someone who can better help you,’ a D type might say when they realise that the customer wants to be patiently listened to by an easygoing S type rather than a fast-paced results-driven problem solver.
Thus, the insights provided by DISC can allow team members to better communicate and work together with their other team members to provide a better service for all customers.
Ready to transform customer communications?
As we’ve shown, DISC can make a real difference to the effectiveness of all your team members, especially your customer-facing ones. With a greater understanding of the strengths, goals, limitations, and fears of different profiles, the team can work better together and provide a better experience for customers.
Thinking about embedding DISC in your organisation? We recommend starting with the DISC Flow® Core report, a detailed profile that uses the powerful DISC model as well as emotional intelligence for a holistic approach to personality. Or, consider trying out our training and consulting services for a bespoke approach to DISC theory in your organisation. Get in touch today and we’ll be happy to help you find the best option for you.