Many of you have lived your lives according to the Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Translation: Treat others as YOU like to be treated.” But as Dr. Phil often asks his guests, “how’s that working for you?” Probably not as good or as often as you hoped and intended.

The Golden Rule, despite being based upon what one might assume are good intentions, is fundamentally flawed.  It assumes that what makes me happy will also make you happy.  We’ve have been taught and retaught the Golden Rule so many times that we internally justify this behavior as right – maybe even righteous.

But have you ever worked with a “difficult” customer or co-worker?  And you treated him the same way you would like to be treated and all you did was create an adversary? Do unto a different person from you as you would like to have done unto you and the reaction you get might not be what you expected despite the best of intentions.

A better solution might be The Platinum Rule – “do unto others as THEY would like to have done.” An excellent tool to train and implement The Platinum Rule in your business is DISC. While often categorized as a self-development or even hiring tool, DISC behavioral styles positively and negatively affect customer service experiences. Businesses who use them effectively gain a competitive advantage.

Briefly, the four primary behavioral style are represented by the acronym DISC

  • “D” represents driver, direct and determined,
  • “I” represents influencing, inspiring and interacting,
  • “S” represents stable, steady and supportive and
  • “C” represents cautious, conscientious, and careful. 
In practice, D’s are energized by solving Problems, I’s by influencing other People, S’s by the steady Pace, and C’s by complying with Procedures and Rules. Understanding how others like to be treated and what energizes them can be learned by understanding DISC.

Read more about DISC.

How 4 Styles Deliver Customer Service
High D business owners and employees are very direct and to the point, frequently solving problems or delegating, but not following up to make sure that their customer is happy. They tend to focus on the task of fixing something after the fact rather than finding out what caused the problem in the first place. High D business owners need to recognize that everyone does not think that just fixing a problem is enough (notably the S and I types). They must stay engaged with their customers, demonstrate some empathy, and appreciate that many people value the experience as much as the outcome.
High I business owners tend to have the best intentions about doing great work but often have a tendency to overlook details and consequences. They also live life with an optimistic, trusting attitude – “it will all work out in the end.” Unlike the D who can be focused on the outcome at the expense of the people, I’s get caught up in building relationships and experiences at the expense of the outcome. They often lack the focus required to make sure that there is a system in place to complete the project on time, on budget. The I behavioral style may bite off more than can chew (overpromise and underdeliver) and as a result, their clients are often disappointed when promised work or solutions are not forthcoming.
If there was one best style for customer service, it would be the S business owner.  They generally prefer a steadier pace; therefore prevention is more energizing than troubleshooting.  They tend to be more people oriented, more patient, and work hard to ensure that everyone is going to be satisfied with their product or service. They genuinely want to help get things done right, especially in the eyes of the customer. If there was a style fitted to walk in others’ shoes, the S would be it.
High C business owners see the world differently than D and I business owners; they have systhe systems in place, procedures to follow and forms to document milestones. While their intentions (like the other styles) are good, their processes can be so overwhelming that employees can’t follow them and customers get frustrated. If they are not cognizant that everyone does not like to treated like them, the system can become rigid and cold – aggravating customers and turning them away.
How Each of the 4 Styles Like to Be Treated for Good Customer Service

To satisfy the D, consider having a “Press 0 to get an operator” or a “concierge” who can help expedite the form submission. The C process of customer service can be difficult for D’s to comprehend. The thought of filling out forms or navigating to the right department through complicated phone systems is just too time consuming, inconvenient, and inefficient. A human voice on the other end of the line goes a long way with the I’s and S’s too.

I clients want to talk to a person. Sending an email, text or just leaving a message will not make the “I” feel like you have done the best job for them, even if you got everything handled in a timely manner. Additionally, by not speaking to them directly, you leave a door open for this situation to escalate. Remember I’s like to influence others so when you do right by them, they tell their friends but when you do wrong….watch out! They want to tell the world (and in today’s world of social media an unhappy customer can be a dangerous thing!) Don’t let the “I feel left out in the cold. Sending “I” links to FAQ sections and self-help videos will not make “I” happy with your company.

S clients are not looking for amazing solutions or fanfare – they just want to feel like you care about them. They just want to work with someone who handles their account or problem when they say they will. There is very little screaming and yelling with an S. An unhappy doesn’t get angry -they get even. They don’t complain, at least loudly. They just leave. You will quickly and often permanently lose any credibility if you do not follow through on promises that you make (and that includes calling back when you say you will). High S types do not want to change companies or vendors so a little bit of customer service can go a long way!

C clients need A LOT of documentation before, during and after the fact. They will be happiest when they get a detailed account of the work that is completed and if there are problems, a list of proposed solutions. You CAN use email, FAQs, knowledge bases and other non-human types of services for a C. If there are problems, they are going to want to know what went wrong and what steps you are taking so that it will not happen again in the future.

Understanding the DISC model can help your company and employees avoid costly customer service mistakes. Your customers DO NOT want to be treated the way that you do! They want to be treated like THEY want to be treated! Having employees trained to recognize the four behavioral styles and delivering the right service to each customer is vital for retaining customers. Customer service is definitely not a one size fits all.